Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Creole Stuffed Bell Peppers

Sweet bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, Italian sausage, rice & a Creole tomato sauce, topped with cheddar cheese, slices of Velveeta or your favorite.
Sweet bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, Italian sausage, rice & a Creole tomato sauce, topped with cheddar cheese, slices of Velveeta or your favorite.

Creole Stuffed Bell Peppers

I absolutely adore stuffed bell peppers. The Cajun? Not so much.

Remember his aversion to veggies?  Well, the poor bell pepper falls right into that category of any other whole veggie that is stuffed - even though most often the very veggie he is rejecting whole, is mixed in the stuffing anyway! So, as with any stuffed vegetable, he will just eat the stuffing from a stuffed bell pepper, and throw away the pepper. Silly man. I mean, he eats green bell pepper a lot. How many recipes do y'all see here that contain The Trinity - onion, celery, and ... hello ... green bell pepper? Lots. Sigh.

Needless to say I don't make these nearly as often as I'd like to. The thing is, all veggie hatred aside, I don't think a lot of people make stuffed peppers much anymore. Sad, because as far as I'm concerned, they really are good and not at all hard to make. I mean you've got your meat, a little starch and veggies, all rolled into one, right?

You'll notice that I like to cut my peppers in half lengthwise, cutting from the stem to stern, rather than cutting off the top of a whole pepper and stuffing it that way, so that it is standing up. It's just easier for me to cook them this way, and it stretches out the peppers.

Certainly though, if you prefer them made with the tops cut off, do them that way. Just cut off the upper part, just under the stem and then remove the spines and seeds. Either way, you'll want to parcook the cleaned peppers by dropping them into boiling water or microwaving them. I do mine for about 6 minutes.

I also like to use a blend of ground beef with some Italian sausage. Sometimes I'll even start with some bacon.

To that I add creole tomato sauce - which is basically tomato sauce cooked down with onion, celery and green bell pepper.

Speaking of veggies.... this handheld Food Saver is how I keep things like deli meats and cheeses, as well as blocks of hard and soft cheeses and all of the bits and pieces of onion, celery and bell pepper fresh for the next time I need them. I love, love, love this little gadget.

Because of the cost of food these days, I mostly buy the large family packs of meats or sale meat these days, so I've graduated to a countertop vertical Food Saver too for those meats because the handheld bags aren't recommended for freezing. The handheld unit is perfect for those things that you are in and out of often, so I'm still using this pretty much everyday on something.

Mix in some rice, most often just leftover rice, some seasonings, and some of the sauce, then evenly divide the mixture between all of the peppers. I add some Rotel tomatoes with the remaining sauce and top the peppers off with it.

Add a light sprinkling of bread crumbs if you like - I like the Italian seasoned kind but I've used plain and panko, or no bread crumbs at all if I'm using cheese, which I add at the end, a light sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese or thin slices of Velveeta, whatever you like.

I asked The Cajun to pick me up some sharp cheddar on the way home one day, and he showed up with this.

I needed some shredded cheddar for something that day so it didn't work for the purpose in which I had intended, but, y'all know I love my Velveeta, so I wasn't exactly angry either! I shoved it in the fridge until something came up where I could use it and this seemed right as rain!

By the way, stuffed peppers freeze pretty well, so some of those extra baked peppers above, went into the freezer for a quick flash freeze, after which they were bagged up and will become a quick lunch or dinner for those occasions that I am dining alone in the near future. Defrost and then heat up in the microwave and you've got one speedy meal! You can also prepare these in advance unbaked and freeze them. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or in the microwave on defrost first, before baking.

For more of my favorite Cajun and Creole recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!

Recipe: Creole Stuffed Bell Peppers

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish 
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 min

Total time: 1 hour
Yield: About 4 servings


For the Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup each chopped onion, celery and bell pepper
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans regular tomato sauce
For the Peppers:
  • 4 large sweet bell peppers, green, red or yellow
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 or 2 links spicy Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Creole or Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes (original or mild), drained
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh, dry or panko bread crumbs
  • Freshly shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack or your favorite) or thin slices Velveeta

Prepare sauce by melting butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the peppers lengthwise, stem to bottom, and scrape out seeds and ribs. Bring a large pot of water to boil and drop the pepper halves in, reduce heat, allowing peppers to parboil at a simmer for only 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a separate skillet, saute the onion in olive oil until tender. Remove the sausage from the casing and add it and the ground beef to the skillet; cooking until browned, and breaking up into small pieces. Drain well. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add 1/2 cup of the prepared tomato sauce, reserve the remaining sauce. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until sauce is heated through. Stir in rice, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Pour 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and place peppers in the dish. Loosely scoop the beef and rice mixture evenly into each pepper half, topping each off until you use all of the filling.

Mix the Rotel tomatoes with the remaining tomato sauce, and spoon evenly over the tops of each pepper and sprinkle each with bread crumbs. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until peppers are tender and filling is heated through. Remove, add cheese to top, and return to oven until cheese melts.

Cook's Notes: Peppers may also be cut standing. Simply cut off right under the top stem and remove the ribs and seeds, standing peppers up to stuff and cook. I prefer to microwave the raw peppers, about 6 minutes, rather than boil them. May also substitute approximately 2 cups of homemade creole tomato sauce, divided. Cheese topping may also be omitted. Peppers may be assembled for freezing or leftovers may be frozen.

Dirty Rice Stuffed Peppers: Prepare a recipe of dirty rice for the filling in original recipe.

Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers: Omit ground beef and sausage. Wrap a boneless ribeye or sirloin steak in plastic wrap and place into freezer for 20 minutes. Remove, unwrap and thinly slice against the grain. Whisk together 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons each balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon onion and garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes. Place meat in a plastic bag or bowl and toss with marinade. Let rest 1 hour. Add marinade and meat to saucepan and cook until no longer pink. May omit or include the sauce. Saute onion and pepper blend in skillet until softened. Drain meat and add vegetables along with 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese. Omit rice. Meanwhile, prepare peppers as above. Layer in peppers, cheese and meat, ending with cheese. Bake as above.

Seafood Stuffed Peppers: Substitute 1 pound small shrimp, crawfish and/or crabmeat, or any combination of the three, omitting the meats and adding after the sauce is warmed through. Add one teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning and 2 teaspoons dried parsley.

Shortcut Shrimp Sauce: Loosen one can condensed cream of shrimp soup with about 1/2 cup of water or to desired consistency. Add 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay. Heat and spoon over peppers before serving, omitting cheese.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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