Ground beef and rice stuffed peppers is one of my all time favorite dishes. It’s comforting, delicious, hearty, and yet magically summery. When served over mashed potatoes with a generous scoop of the tomato sauce it cooked in, it becomes the ultimate comfort food that’s also kind of good for you. Also, if you like pairing rice with veggies, check out this Italian Risi e Bisi dish.
Beef and Rice Stuffed Peppers
I grew up eating beef and rice stuffed peppers, and as a kid I always peeled the peppers away because I didn’t like them. These days, the peppers are my favorite part of the dish but not just any bell peppers. The usual large bell peppers that are grown in the US, and that we commonly find at local grocery stores, are often too large and too thick for this recipe. You need smaller, thinner red or yellow bell peppers for this recipe for it to be as delicious as it can be.
Look for red or yellow bell peppers that are a product of Mexico. They are typically smaller and thinner, perfect for this dish (and often less expensive than US grown peppers!). Here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area I find them either at Trader Joe’s or in just about any Mexican grocery store. If you live in areas that have European ethnic grocery stores they will also have them. If you love red bell peppers, check out this Balsamic Red Bell Pepper Bruschetta!
Ground beef and rice stuffed peppers could also be made with a mix of beef and pork, or a mix of beef and lamb, or veal and pork. That’s how they are traditionally made, and chefs will usually argue which combination is better; as well as what ratio of mixed meats is the best. Not to mention their discussions on whether it’s better to let them simmer on the stovetop or bake them in an oven (using a Dutch oven).
For this recipe, I opted to use beef only and if you do end up using only beef, use 75-80% lean beef. I typically use a 75% lean beef because you need a little bit of fat. I am not an expert on mixed meats ratios, but when I do use two types of meat, I typically use half beef and half pork.
To make beef and rice stuffed peppers, you will need:
- Large skillet
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- 6-quart stock pot, preferably a Dutch oven
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Fork and spoon
Beef and Rice Stuffed Peppers
Coat a large skillet with oil and heat it over medium heat. Sauté onion for a few minutes until golden before adding carrot. Allow carrot to soften then add bacon and beef. Crumble the beef with a fork and cook for several minutes to brown it. When the meat loses its raw red color, add 1 ½ tsp salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, parsley flakes, and garlic powder. Stir well and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
Stir in rice and fry it until it becomes translucent. Add the fresh garlic and cook for 30 seconds then remove the pot from heat. Let it cool while you prepare peppers.
Rinse and dry the peppers, cut the tops off each pepper and set aside. Remove all seeds from the inside of the pepper and flip it on its side. Carefully cut a very thin slice off the bottom of the pepper. You don’t want to cut too deep and have a hole in the bottom of the pepper. You only need to cut a tiny bit to level the bottom so it sits flat and to remove just enough skin from the bottom so the steam from the bottom of the pan can enter the pepper and help cook the meat.
Place a heavy-bottom, preferably a 6-quart, stockpot on the stovetop. Coat the bottom with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce dissolved with cold water.
Using a spoon, fill each pepper loosely with the mixture of beef and rice all the way to the top. Avoid pounding the mixture in too hard as the rice needs some room to expand, and the meat could also end up caked if. Don’t worry if you have extra meat mixture, just spread it around the pot, between the peppers, it will make for a delicious sauce.
Stand the first filled pepper in the middle of pot and surround it with remaining ones.
Once you have all peppers in the pot, mix oat flour, and ½ tsp salt, with the rest of tomato sauce, dissolve with some water, and add to the pot. Top off with just enough water or chicken stock to barely submerge peppers. Toss in the bay leaf, too. Cover each pepper with a cut off top you saved.
Turn the heat on and bring it to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium, place the lid slightly askew and maintain a slow simmer for an hour and half.
*Look for yellow or red bell peppers that are a product of Mexico, they are smaller and thinner. Freezes really well!