28 October 2008
Sweet peppers stuffed with rice
4 red or yellow bell peppers – about 2 pounds
1 pound ground pork
8 heaped tablespoons raw rice – use short-grain or round-grain rice
4 ripe medium-sized tomatoes – about 3/4 pound – peeled and finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves – peeled and finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh flat Italian parsley – finely chopped
1 cup water
1 level teaspoon sugar - optional
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 leaves oregano - shredded
2 pinches saffron
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
Toothpicks to fix lids
Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a casserole or Dutch oven. Add the ground pork, the chopped garlic and the parsley leaves, the ground nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper, the oregano, and the pinches of saffron.
Cook 8 to 10 minutes over medium-low heat until the meat turns golden-brown. Stir often with a wooden spoon.
Set 2 tablespoons of tomato aside, and add the remaining chopped tomato to the meat. Add salt, and the sugar if you choose to add it, stir and cover.
Cook 5 minutes over low heat. If the tomato isn't juicy, add 1/4 cup water and an additional pinch of salt. You need a juice mixture so that the rice can cook properly later in the oven.
Add the raw rice and stir well. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes covered. Do not let the cooking juices evaporate.
Preheat oven to 350
Wash the peppers, and cut a circle at about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the stem of each bell pepper.
If desired, pull out the stems, but don't discard them. Set them aside, and keep them to use them later as lids for the bell peppers. Try to remember which stem matches with which pepper.
Remove any seeds that are left inside the bell peppers, and cut their ribs with a knife or spoon. You can now preheat the oven.
Stuff the peppers with the meat and rice mixture. Leave about 3/4-inch without stuffing. Replace each lid to its matching pepper and stick both together with toothpicks.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 chopped tomato to a deep earthen pot if you have one, a Dutch oven or similar oven-fit pot.
Place the peppers vertical in your pot, and cover. Cook them in the oven for 45 minutes