Traditional Stuffed Peppers

This recipe is a homage to the way my mother and grandmother cooked their stuffed peppers, with the key ingredient being condensed tomato soup. The soup helps to cut down some of the acidity of just using straight tomato sauce, as well as brings a creaminess to the sauce that these peppers will slowly bake in. I have made a couple additions to the meat mixture recipe including smoked paprika, sambal oelek, and tamari to help bring an added umami and smokiness. To incorporate even more flavor, I slightly brown the rice with garlic and butter before cooking. Finding those small ways to add flavor to more plain, traditional dishes can bring these favorites to another level. This recipe is hearty, simple, and full of flavor. You may never use another stuffed recipe again!

1 pound ground beef
3 large green bell peppers (top cut off, core and seeds removed)
½ cup jasmine or white rice
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (optional, but recommended for some spice)
You can also use any other hot sauce of your choice. I like the smoky, peppery flavor the sambal adds.
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of tamari, soy sauce, or worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 can of condensed tomato soup
15 oz can tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 325℉.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and add in chopped onion and a pinch of salt to release water. Saute until soft (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

Heat a sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add in dried rice, garlic, and butter. Saute until rice is slightly brown and fragrant (about 2 minutes). Be careful not to burn your rice. Add in ¾ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a low simmer. Cook until rice is tender (15-18 minutes). Keep covered and off heat until ready to serve.

Note: Make sure your cooked ingredients (rice and onion) have cooled to room temperature so as to not cook the egg when added to your pepper stuffing.

In a large bowl combine beef, onion, rice, paprika, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, sambal, tamari (or worcestershire), and egg. Mix with hands to combine. Separate into 3 batches (one for each pepper).

Stuff each batch of meat into your 3 peppers. You want the meat mixture to stick out of your peppers. Lightly place on the top of the pepper that you cut off. Place the peppers on their side in a casserole dish or deep pan.

In a small bowl, combine condensed tomato soup and tomato sauce. Pour mixture over your peppers. Cover with lid or tin foil and bake for about an hour and 15 minutes until the peppers are soft and meat mixture is cooked through. You can cook the peppers for longer or shorter time, depending on how you like the texture of your pepper. I prefer a very soft pepper. For the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the pan or tin foil. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!

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