Almost every cuisine has a version of stuffed peppers and these South Louisiana stuffed bell peppers are at the top of the list! It’s common in Creole and Cajun cuisines to stuff just about anything and since Bell Peppers grow so well in Louisiana soils and particularly in home gardens, there are plenty of them to stuff. Sweet Daddy D’s Stuffed Bell Peppers use a mixture of ground beef, pork and veal cooked down with sweet onions, chopped bell peppers and seasonings, making a perfectly delicious filling for the peppers. Get a couple of cold beers and let's get going.
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Here’s What You Need:
- Bell Peppers for stuffing. This dish looks really nice using a combination of green, yellow and red bell peppers, but any color is fine.
- The Meats: Each adds a unique dimension: ground beef (80/20 or ground round), ground pork and ground veal.
- The vegetables: Yellow onions, bell peppers and garlic.
- The other stuff: Butter and Olive Oil, Worchestershire sauce, beef stock and seasoned breadcrumbs.
- Herb and Spice Blend: Oregano, Basil, Thymes, Creole seasoning, kosher salt, ground black pepper and bay leaves
Does the color of the pepper matter?
Bell Peppers are categorized as Sweet Peppers, so they are very mild in flavor with no heat whatsoever, making them perfect for stuffing. They accent the flavor of the filling but do not take it over. There are over 60 varieties of bell peppers and one pepper bush will produce green, yellow and red fruit depending upon the level of ripeness-the green version is most immature, followed by the yellow and the red being the ripest and sweetest. Honestly, it is almost impossible to tell the difference in the flavor.
Are Peppers good for you?
Bell Peppers are a good source of Vitamin A and C, potassium, folic acid and fiber. The red bell pepper does provide more beta-carotene and Vitamin C than the green pepper.
What do you serve with stuffed Bell Peppers?
Stuffed bell peppers are a very versatile dishes that can served as a special side dish or star in the lead role. They are a great accompaniment for Red Beans and Rice. As the main event, some macaroni and cheese is perfect on the side or some pasta and tomato sauce. Stuffed Bell Peppers can be served naked (you know, no sauce or anything) or they can be sauced (not sauced like the chef, but nonetheless). Try some tomato sauce spooned right on top or my favorite with some Creole Sauce. Check out the links to some of these recipes below.
You may find these handy when making this recipe:
Here’s What You Do
First, you have a beer. During that first swig, contemplate the game plan by reading the recipe top to bottom. That’s the key first step in your mise en place. Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment you need to complete the recipe. Prep all the ingredients before doing any cooking so that you can confirm that you have everything you need and then just assemble the dish as you cook. You don't want to be scurrying around frantically while the garlic is burning!
Prepare the Peppers
Wash the peppers under cold running water with a soft vegetable brush or cloth to remove any kind of wax coating that may have been applied by the grocer to keep the peppers looking good. If the peppers aren't too large, just cut the tops off and scoop out the veins and seeds. If they are pretty big, trim the stem but don't remove it and slice the peppers lengthwise making a little boat.
You'll want the peppers softened a little before you stuff and bake them, so parboil them in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes (that's after the water comes back to a boil). Do this in batches, 2 or 3 at a time, so it doesn't take too long to return to a boil.
Remove the peppers and place them immediately into an ice bath for about 5 minutes which will shock the peppers and stop the cooking process-you don't want them mushy.
After 5 minutes in the ice bath place them upside down on a rack with paper towels to drain.
Prepare all the other ingredients
Next, combine the Herb and Spice Blend in a small bowl. Measure the butter and oil and set all that aside; chop the onions and bell peppers and set aside in their own bowl-you'll want all the veggies cut up very fine. Finely chop the garlic and set it aside. Measure out the stock, the bread crumbs and Worcestershire and set aside.
To prepare the meats, gently combine all three types of meat in one bowl using your hands. Set the bowl back in the refrigerator until you need it.
Now you are ready to start cooking, so how's your beer?
Saute the vegetables and aromatics
Place a cast iron dutch oven (or other heavy-bottomed pot) over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and the butter. When the butter starts to foam, throw in the chopped onions and peppers and sauté until almost clear, stirring often, which should take about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add garlic and about ⅔ of the Herb and Spice Blend and stir a couple of minutes, until aromatic. Reserve some of the Herbs and Spices for later when you test for seasoning.
Add the Meats
Crumble the meat by hand into the dutch oven and mix well with the onions and peppers.
Brown the meat just until the pink is gone, constantly breaking up any lumps with your spoon as you cook it. It's important to break the meat down into small pieces, we want no big lumps! Once browned, remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat (don’t go all anal on measuring that-just leave some, but not a lot!)
Add the Stock
When the meat is browned properly (just until the pink is gone), add the Worcestershire sauce and about 1 ½ cup of beef stock, reserving the rest in case it's needed later.
Bring this up to a full boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook until the stock is almost evaporated, probably around 15 to 20 minutes. This step helps bring the flavors together, so you don't want to shorten the time, just make sure to stir it occasionally. Taste the mixture, sometimes it’s still a little bland at this stage so add more of the spice mix if you think it is needed.
Add the breadcrumbs
Now it's time to tighten it up a bit. Add the breadcrumbs, a little at a time starting with 1 cup and mix it thoroughly until you have the consistency you want. Add more bread crumbs if needed but if starts to look too dry, add a little more stock.
At this stage, it should have the consistency of a cohesive filling or stuffing, very nicely blended, smooth and homogenous. Breaking the meat down into very small pieces and chopping the vegetables very fine helps achieve the consistency you want when the breadcrumbs are added. Taste again for salt/seasoning, add some of the reserved spices if needed. Turn off the heat and let the stuffing sit covered for about 10 minutes while the flavors comes together and you get ready for the next step.
Stuff the peppers
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an oven-safe casserole dish with low sides by spreading some soften butter or cooking spray on the bottom. Remove the bay leaves from the stuffing, then using a kitchen tablespoon or stiff spatula, place the filling into the peppers. Make sure to press down to fill all the voids. Once filled, place each pepper into the casserole dish with a little space in between each pepper.
When they are all filled, sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top of each pepper and place a small tab of butter on top of each one. Pour a small amount of water in the bottom of the baking dish, no more than a half-inch, and adjust the peppers to make sure some of the water gets underneath them.
Bake the Peppers
Place the baking dish in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes uncovered; they are done when an instant-read thermometer reads at least 160-don't worry if it's a little higher. If they are starting to brown too much, just lay (don't wrap) a piece of aluminum foil over them in the oven until they are finished baking. When done, remove the baking dish from the oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
That’s all there is to it, simple as that!
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Hints and Tips
- The peppers are soft and delicious and will melt in your mouth! Make sure to eat the pepper along with the filling.
- About 5 tablespoons of bacon grease can be substituted for the butter and olive oil. This really adds a delicious dimension to the flavor.
- Fight the urge to make the peppers large; they are so good you'll be tempted to eat too many and they are filling! Depending on the size of the peppers, slice them lengthwise for large peppers or just slice the top off smaller peppers and fill them up! If you are going to slice them lengthwise, the 4 node peppers make that really convenient and will render two pretty equal size halves.
- This recipe makes a large batch so you can enjoy some now and save some happiness for a later date. The stuffed peppers will last about 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator if placed in an airtight container. If you put them in the oven cold from the fridge, add about 10 minutes to the baking time. They can be frozen for up to six months, again in an airtight container. Wrap them individually or all together, just make sure to get all the air out. Using a vacuum sealer is the best way to prepare the stuffed peppers for the freezer.
- Make ahead! The stuffed bell peppers can be refrigerated or frozen before or after they are baked. If stored before baking, hold off on the bread crumb topping and the tab of butter, these can be added when you are ready to bake them. Whether you refrigerate or freeze before or after baking, make sure to cool them off before hitting the fridge or freezer. You won't believe how great these are leftover-it's amazing how the flavors meld together.
- Bell Peppers can be stuffed with almost anything-meat, shrimp, crawfish...you name it. Many in South Louisiana add rice to the stuffing (if you want to add rice, use cooked rice, not raw); my grandmother used a mixture of ground beef and ground ham in her stuffed bell peppers but no rice. If you have some leftover Cajun Jambalaya or some Cajun Dirty Rice stuff it in some parboiled bell peppers and bake them at 350 for about 20 to 30 minutes. You may want to moisten the jambalaya or dirty rice with a little stock if it looks dry before you stuff the peppers. Delicious!
- If you notice some peppers have 3 nodes and some have 4 nodes on the bottom, you're paying attention. It's been said that is how you tell the difference between male and female peppers, but don’t believe it, peppers have no gender! The number of nodes is usually a result of pepper variety and growing conditions. The 4-node bell peppers are great for slicing lengthwise.
You may find these handy when making this recipe:
Here are some great recipes from Sweet Daddy D that will go well with Stuffed Bell Peppers:
If you like these Stuffed Bell Peppers, try these other stuffed delights from Sweet Daddy D:
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Yeah You Right!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Here's What You Need
- 6 large Bell Peppers See Notes
- 2 tablespoons Butter See Notes
- 2 -3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion Chopped Fine
- 1 cups bell pepper Chopped Fine
- 5 cloves garlic Chopped Fine
- 1 pound ground beef 80/20
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 - 1 ½ cups Italian Bread Crumbs
Herb and Spice Blend
- 2 teaspoons Oregano
- 2 teaspoons Basil
- 1 teaspoon Thyme
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons Black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
Here's What You Do
Prepare the Peppers
- Wash the peppers under cold running water with a soft vegetable brush or cloth,
- Slice the peppers in half through the stem and scoop out the veins and seeds.
- Parboil the peppers in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes (after the water comes back to a boil), remove immediately to an ice bath to stop the cooking process for 5 minutes. Place the cooled peppers upside down on paper towels to drain; set them aside.
For the Filling
- Heat the oil and butter in a cast iron dutch oven over medium-high heat until starting to foam; add the chopped onions and bell peppers and sauté until almost clear, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, stirring until aromatic-about a minute or two. At this point add most of the Herb and Spice Blend, reserve the rest. Mix well.
- Crumble the meats into the veggie mixture by hand. Stir to combine well and brown the meat until just the pink is gone, breaking up all the lumps as you go. Once browned you may want to remove some of the rendered fat, but not all.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce and about 1 to 1 ½ cup of beef stock, reserving the rest. Bring to a full boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and simmer until the stock is almost evaporated, probably around 15 to 20 minutes. Taste the mixture for seasoning.
- Add the bread crumbs a little at a time until you have the consistency you want, be careful not to add too much. Add a little more stock if needed. At this stage it should have the consistence of a filling or stuffing, no large lumps of meat and very nicely blended and smooth. Taste again for salt/seasoning, add some of the reserved spices if needed.
- Let the stuffing sit covered for about 10 minutes while you get ready for the next step.
Stuff and bake the Peppers
- Heat oven to 350 deg. Prepare an oven safe casserole dish with low sides by spreading soft butter or spraying cooking spray in the bottom.
- Remove bay leaves from the stuffing, then stuff the filling into the peppers, making sure to press down to fill all the voids. Once filled, place each pepper in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle a little bread crumbs and place a small tab on butter top of each one. Pour about ½ inch water in the bottom of the baking dish and adjust the peppers to make sure some of the water gets underneath them.
- Bake at 350 deg for about 30 to 45 minutes, uncovered; they are done when an instant read thermometer reads about 160. If they are starting to brown too much, just lay a piece of aluminum foil over them in the oven until they are finished baking.
- Take out and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.