BULGARIAN STUFFED PEPPERS
Disclaimer: This is a word-of--mouth recipe from my mother. I don’t have it written down anywhere, so all measurements are approximate.... but it’s not rocket science (or baking) so try it and adjust according to your own taste.
6 green peppers (I try to buy the smaller ones)
If you like spicy food you can also stuff a few small hot peppers of any variety.
3.5 to 4 lbs ground meat-- a mixture of ground beef and ground pork. Can be ½ and ½ or 2/3 beef and 1/3 pork.
About ¾ cup long grain rice (not instant)
2 14.5- oz cans of diced tomotoes....can use plain or seasoned...lately I have been using the fire-roasted diced.
1 large or 2 small onions (diced)
Salt, pepper, paprika,
Garlic is optional but I usually add.
In a pan large enough to brown all the meat, first dice and sauté onions in a little oil. If you are using garlic, add it to the onion mixture. When almost done, add the rice to the onion mixture to coat it with the oil and onion flavor. Continue sautéing for a few minutes. Remove onion/rice mixture from pan and set aside.
In same pan brown the beef and pork. I sometimes used potato masher to make sure it is in small loose pieces while it is browning. Drain excess grease and then add spices, including salt, pepper to taste and about 2 T paprika.
Then add the onion/rice mixture to the meat pan with the meat.
Add the canned tomatoes to the meat mixture and stir.
While the meat is browning, prepare the green peppers. Wash, slice off tops and scoop out seeds and membranes. Dice tops into small pieces (remove membranes) which you can add to the meat mixture for added color and flavor.
I like to use a blue speckled roasting pan with a lid. Put a thin layer of the meat mixture in the bottom of the pan . Stuff each pepper and lay them on their sides (so skin will brown) on top of the meat mixture. Spoon excess meat mixture between peppers and on top.
Put some water or chicken broth along sides of the peppers so the mixture will remain juicy and moist. You don’t want the water as high as the peppers...maybe about 1/3 of the way up. As the rice cooks it will absorb some of the water.
Bake covered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Then rotate peppers (carefully so filling doesn’t come out). Bake covered another 30 minutes or so. Remove lid from pan and continue baking for about 30 minutes while you rotate peppers till all sides are darkened on top. (Some people par boil the peppers to remove the outer skin – I have never done this and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. If someone doesn’t like the skin of the pepper, it is easily removed when it is charred a bit from the roasting. I think there are more vitamins in the skin too.
If necessary add a little more water to mixture to keep it moist.
Options: A small can of tomato sauce can be placed over the peppers while they are roasting but I think it waters down the meat and pepper flavor...you can experiment to your taste.
Garnishes at table: This is good with crumbled Feta cheese sprinkled over it or red pepper flakes for individual spicing. If everyone in the family likes it spicy, a small can of diced green chilies can be added to the meat mixture.
When serving it is nice to plate up some of the loose meat along with the stuffed pepper as it is usually has more juice in it.
Add some crusty bread like Italian or French and it is a complete meal with protein , starch and veggie.
Leftover meat mixture makes a good taco filling. You can add some taco seasoning to the meat mixture for a more authentic taco taste.