This is one of those recipes that every family has. My late grandfather used to make it using only green peppers since he liked the bitterness in them. I only use the red ones since I love the sweetness in them. Some will precook the rice to shorten the cooking time and some will use only dry rice and let the peppers cook longer. Every family has a story of her own. This is mine.
Note: The peppers are cooked in a tomato sauce. Mine changes each time, according to what I have at my pantry. The sauce should be easy and simple to accompany the peppers.
Sauce, peppers and seasonings
7 red bell peppers (Try picking the big ones that can hold the stuffing)
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 large can of rustic cut tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sugar in the raw, salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup basmati rice
1 pound sirloin ground beef
2 tbsp chopped dill
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp baking soda
Salt and freshly ground peppers
Start with the stuffing. Cook the rice according to direction on the package. Limit cooking time to 15 minutes until the water is absorbed but the rice is not fully cooked. Set aside.
Place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl and add the baking soda. Using a little bit of ice cold water, mix the baking soda with the beef (this is a family trick that will make the beef airy). Add the dill, dijon mustard and season with salt and freshly ground black peppers. Pour over the rice. Mix everything together well (you may need to use your hands).
Using a small knife gently remove the top cap of the pepper while keeping it intact. Use the knife to remove any seeds left inside and random white pieces. Without forcing the peppers, stuff each one with an equal amount of the mixture. Close each pepper with its top.
In a large pot (which you have a tight-fitting lid for) pour the tomatoes and season with 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, salt and freshly ground peppers. Depending on how acidic the tomatoes are you may need to season with a little bit of sugar to balance the flavors. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Carefully arrange the peppers. The tomato sauce should almost cover them. Add hot water if necessary to reach that level. Bring to a boil again and then lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for about an hour. The stuffing should be fully cooked and the peppers tender but still keeping their shape.
Use tongs to remove peppers from the pot. Spoon sauce in a moat around them or slice open peppers and douse with sauce on top. Enjoy!
Photos by Kate Bolt