Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bolognese-Stuffed Peppers

A few years back, I encountered a semi-tragedy while making a batch of stuffed peppers. It was a very involved recipe, from an authentic Italian cookbook, and required a lot of chopping and dicing. I had just been given a new set of nice knives for my birthday, and was eager to put them to use.

Well, long story short, those knives cut more than just the tomatoes. They cut my thumb pretty deeply, too, and I ended up in the Emergency Department the next morning.

To my credit, I was able to finish the peppers, bloody thumb and all, and honestly, they were worth the pain and suffering. To this day, however, I have not been able to bring myself to pull out that recipe again -- partially due to the traumatic memories and partially due to the fact that the ingredient list is so long and so darned expensive.

Enter the mother of my significant other, who introduced me to a delicious, but far less involved, alternative. It relies on a combination of pancetta, marina, red wine, and cream to create a distinctive and delectable stuffing for beautifull big bell peppers. The only change I made to the original recipe was to use ground turkey in lieu of ground beef, in a rather feeble attempt to lighten up what is an inherently indulgent dish. I don't think the finished product suffered at all from the substitution, but I don't think it's final fat and calorie count were affected either. Enjoy!

Bolognese-Stuffed Bell Peppers
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup minced carrots
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 5 bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut in half lengthwise
  • 12 oz ground beef OR ground turkey
  • 1/4 lb pancetta, diced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce head, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender and fluffy. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablepoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir carrots and celery until tender. Add ground beef/turkey and pancetta, and cook until browned and crumbed. Drain off any excess liquid and return to heat. Add marinara sauce, wine, and red pepper flakes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cream, half of the parmesan cheese, and rice. Simmer 5 minutes more or until most liquid has absorbed.

Place peppers in a shallow baking dish and fill with bolognese mixture. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablesoon olive oil and top with remaining parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Serve hot.

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