Saturday, April 24, 2010

Red Peppers, stuff 'em

The only time when stuffing up is a good thing!                                                                               There are lots of ways you can enjoy capsicum they are not only restricted to slicing and adding to a salad.  Here is one I enjoy at this time of year as they are plentiful and less expensive which is always the key!  Prepare the peppers by removing the tops with a sharp knife and with your hand pull out as many as the seeds as possible without breaking the flesh, as you want it to remain in tact making a nice little vessel for cooking the stuffing.  Give them a quick rinse and pat dry.

Tip This dish has a tomato style sauce to pour over the top, so while you are chopping do a little extra,  one more onion, 3 more garlic and some fresh herbs, saves starting all over again with the chopping when you have cleaned up!

The stuffing consists of 700 grams minced veal (pork or lamb also works well) 2 cups cooked rice, 2 medium onions finely chopped, 4 cloves garlic finely chopped, 2tsp mixed herbs, half handful of continental parsley, 1tsp fresh rosemary, and because lemon goes well with veal I put in 1tsp of fresh lemon thyme, (sage would also be really nice) 1 egg, salt & pepper (be generous)  I have made this a number of times so it usually tastes as I envisaged, but for the first time take a small ball of the mixture, a mini mini pattie, fry it, taste it and if it needs more seasoning, add it easy as that.

Next fill each of the peppers, (I made three as there were four of us for dinner) and really stuff the mixture down firmly, so that when you cut them you have nice slices, nothing worse than not enough meat and they fall apart.  All that's left now is onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, a splash of evoo, s & p and bake on a 150 degree oven for about 11/2 hours.  I don't like them to blacken them for this recipe that's why the lower heat.  Turn them over about half way.  When they are soft to the touch you are there.
Left:  This how its looks to start 

Below:  After about 1 + hours, voila
Now for the sauce which is a basic Napoli easy as.  First evoo into the frying pan, heat gently then add onions,  sauté, followed by garlic, dried mixed herbs, a couple of pinches of chilli, adds depth to the flavour, colour slightly then add two tins (410gm ea) whole tomatoes, stir and break the tomatoes up with your spoon, add a 1/4 tsp sugar this cuts the acidity in the tomatoes.  Finally add two tins of water, (I use the tins the tomatoes came from) and bring to a slow boil, turn down, add the fresh herbs and simmer for at least 1- 1/1/2 hours topping up with extra water from time to time, the consistency needs to be thick, but not like paste.  Add salt & pepper, remember to taste after seasoning. It sounds like a long time to cook but the depth of flavour develops with the cooking process, not cooking it long enough usually results in a watery nuff nuff sauce.                                           

A drizzle of evoo to the sauce, some fresh parsley and voila you are there, just pour over your peppers. The best thing about this is, not only is this dinner sorted you will have enough sauce to freeze or refrigerate and use on a pasta, a pizza combine it with some white beans (make your own style baked beans ) also good with a vegetarian ravioli, it's only limited by your imagination:)  Let me know what you think, happy cooking.

Accompaniments:  This dish is pretty well balanced, vegetables, protein and carbs all in the one package, I usually serve a green salad or wilted spinach with this, but I actually found some brussel sprouts $2 for a tray, and yes I love a bargain,  so I braised them, first sauté a very small onion with one slice of bacon or prosciutto till brown in a little evoo and butter, add the sprouts, gently toss till you have a little colour, then add about 1 cup water bring to slow boil, reduce heat and cover.  What will happen is that your sprouts will be soft but you will have an excess quantity of stock in the bottom of the pan (see pic)  now what you do is remove sprouts to a warm place, turn up the heat and reduce till a gravy like texture appears or "jus" if you want to be a bit cheffy :)  this can now be poured over your sprouts 

The two bottom pics show the before and after.  By turning up the heat for about 4 or so minutes you can reduce a nuff nuff excess of stock into an accompanying sauce without much effort!                              

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