A friend told me that it has rained 20 out of the past 22 days. It’s dreary and damp and you need a nice comforting meal on a day like today. This morning I pulled out Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen cookbook for some inspiration for tonight’s supper. I came across her recipe for Meat-Stuffed Peppers. This recipe is different from both my mother and mother-in-law’s as it calls for cubanella or banana peppers and meat filling using a combination of beef, veal and pork. It sounded delicious.
I picked up the peppers at my local food store and then headed over to Pastosa Ravioli for my ground meat. They had the beef, veal pork combination already pre-packaged in roughly one-pound packages. However, since I only needed 8 ounces, they were kind enough to make me a smaller package. I also needed more Arborio rice, which Pastosa also carries (in either one- or two-pound packages.)
It took me approximately 30 minutes to prep and get the peppers in the oven. The peppers initially bake for 20 minutes stuffed, without tomato sauce. After 20 minutes, the peppers are pulled from the oven and are barely covered with tomato sauce. I cheated a bit today as I had a jar of Lidia’s Marinara sauce in my pantry. The ingredients in the jar sauce were almost exactly like her recipe in the same cookbook as the stuff peppers, minus the crushed red pepper. I baked my lightly sauced peppers for 30 additional minutes and they came out perfect.
I did enjoy Lidia’s recipe better than our mothers. Using a cubanella pepper with the thin-flesh was a better choice than a bell pepper. The result gave you a much tender pepper. The combination of the three meats had a nice soft texture, but wasn’t mushy. I prefer the rice over bread crumbs as a binder and par cooking also makes a difference in the texture of the filling, it has a nice bite, and not dense. Overall, this was a terrific choice this evening.
“Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen,”
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
Copyright 2001 by A LaCarte Communications
And Tuitti a Tavola, LLC
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 to 60 minutes
1/3 cup Arborio rice
8 cubanella or banana peppers, each about 6-inches long
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
8 ounces of ground meat (see note below)
1 large egg
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
3 cups (or as needed) tomato sauce
Cook the Arborio rice in a large saucepan of salted water until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.
While the rice is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, prepare the peppers, and start the filling. Cut the stems from the peppers and scrape out the seeds and membranes with a teaspoon. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring until wilted, about 4 minutes. Scrape the onion into a mixing bowl, add the ground meat, egg, grated cheese, parsley, oregano, and cooked rice, and stir together until evenly blended.
Divide the filling among the peppers, using about ¼ cup to fill each pepper loosely. Rub the outside of the peppers lightly with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, placing them in a baking dish as you do so. Roast the peppers, turning once of twice with tongs, until softened and lightly browned in spots, about 20 minutes.
Pour in enough of the tomato sauce barely to cover the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
From Lidia - “A mix of ground beef, pork and veal is best but that might not. be practical. Try at least to use a blend of ground pork and beefy, but failing that all ground beef or pork will do.”
Donna’s Note - I used Pat LaFrieda’s ground beef blend of chuck, brisket and short rib. Pat LaFrieda makes a meatball blend with beef, pork and veal, however, my local ShopRite, which carries Pat LaFrieda meat, was out of stock.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.