I posted a photo of my take on stuffed bell peppers with a New Mexican flair to Teh Book of Face a couple of days ago and a few people were interested in the recipe. I generally cook by just zoning in (or out, as it were) and don't really pay attention much to a method. I got my inspiration for this recipe from my good friend, Linda Fitz Gerald. We were doing a bit of catch up after a round of phone-tag, and as always the conversation turned to what's been on the menu at each others' house. Having an abundance of fresh bell peppers, she had made various versions of stuffed bell peppers over the past month or so. Some meatless, some traditional and some with a Southwestern twist. Now, she's a So Cal Mexican food fan, and I prefer a New Mexican flavour. No matter what you love in this case, this idea is easily adapted to your own taste buds! This is just a foundation for you to build your own favorite stuffed peppers.
Roll up your sleeves and get a little creative! ;)
I know I get a little carried away when I compile an ingredients list, so feel free to whittle it down. I just love to play a little!
(Just so you know; when I mention using a particular brand, I'm not endorsing it; nor am I getting paid to recommend it. It just works for me, so feel free to substitute what you like. It'll still work. Just trust your taste-buds!)
Here we go:
South Western Style Stuffed Bell Peppers
--1 1/2 lb.--85% ground beef
--6-8--bell peppers. Rinse well. Remove the tops and core them and set aside. You'll need the tops, so don't discard them.
--1 Cup--Uncle Ben's Converted Rice.
--1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes.
--1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed to remove the gooey, salty ick.
--1 4 oz. can HOT, diced green chile. Do not drain.
--1/8 (or there abouts!) Cup chopped bell pepper from the reserved tops.
--2 Tblsp. Organic No Salt Seasoning. (from Costco) I use this a lot. It's a good go-to all purpose seasoning.
--4 Tblsp. Taco Seasoning.
--2 tsp. Sea Salt.
--1-2 Tblsp. Red Chile Powder. Use your judgement on this. I love it pretty warm, but you want to enjoy this meal, so adjust this spice to suit you and your folks!
--1 tsp. Marjoram, or Mexican Oregano. You can also substitute 1/8 tsp. Epazote powder for this. This will help counter-act the effect of the black beans, if you get my drift! ;)
--1 medium yellow onion, diced.
--2-3 ribs of celery; sliced and chopped to match your onions and chopped peppers.
--3-4 medium cloves garlic, pressed or very finely minced.
--2 1/2 Tblsp. olive oil.
--6-7 oz. warm water.
--1/3 C. of your favorite salsa.
--1 C. frozen corn.
Pre-heat the oven to 355*.
Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and core them. Reserve the tops--you'll need them later.
Remove the stem from the tops,and dice the tops about the same as you've done the onions and celery. Combine 1/2 of the onion and 1/2 of the garlic with all of the celery in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
In a large, deep skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the rice and saute stirring constantly to avoid burning. When the rice is just transparent, incorporate the onion mixture; oregano and 1 tsp. of salt. Continue stirring until the onions become translucent. Reduce the heat to medium and add the green chile. Allow some moisture to reduce a bit while still stirring. At this point you can fold in the tomatoes and the 6-7 oz. of warm water. Allow the rice mixture to reach a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes--NO PEEKING! When 20 minutes have passed, turn off the heat, and remove the skillet to a cooling rack or trivet. Set the timer for an additional 5 minutes, still covered. When the buzzer, bell, beeper (whatever) sounds, remove the lid, and fluff with a metal fork--anything else and the rice could turn out sticky. Trust me on this; it makes a difference.
Or you could skip all of that portion of the recipe and use this:
(This is a good time saver.)
Crumble the ground beef a medium sized stock pot over medium-high heat. Add in the no salt organic seasoning, red chile powder, and the remaining salt and garlic. If using the boxed Spanish rice, add your tomatoes at this point. Cook this all together until the ground beef is just browned. You don't want to over-do it as you'll be finishing this dish in the oven. Stir in the corn, beans and salsa. Remove from heat and combine with the rice mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Place the bell peppers in a 3'x9'x13' lightly greased baking dish. Fill them generously with love and the ground beef/rice mixture. Top with grated cheese of your choice; cheddar, pepper-jack, or queso fresco, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley or cilantro. Tent with foil for about 17 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 4 more minutes to toast the cheese lightly.
Let cool on a rack for about 10-15 minutes before serving.