Stuffed peppers – astonishingly delicious

When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me all about these stuffed peppers she would eat at a nearby restaurant, and because she was so passionate about them, there was no excuse but to recreate them herself in our kitchen.

At the time, I didn’t care much for vegetables, let alone peppers and their intense taste, but I did enjoy the filling and used to leave the vessel on the plate for someone else to eat.

Years went by and I grew out of my fussy eating habits, and started to eat veggies like a normal person. Peppers included. Although I did end up visiting the so famous restaurant, for some reason I didn’t care for them much. Maybe I was used to the ones I grew up eating, maybe it was the high expectations that led me to believe they were astonishingly delicious, whatever. I just ended up recreating the ones I remembered to taste, eat and love.

▪ 2 tablespoons olive oil
▪ 1 bay leaf
▪ 3 chopped onions
▪ 3 cloves of slithered garlic
▪ 2 peeled and diced carrots
▪ 50 grams chouriço
▪ 400 grams minced pork
▪ 2 tablespoons tomato pulp
▪ Salt and pepper to taste
▪ 4 tablespoons water
▪ Pinch of chopped parsley
▪ 1 cup of rice
▪ 2 cups of water
▪ 4 big green peppers

Mince the onions, the garlic, slither the peeled carrots and cut the chouriço also into cubes. Fry the bay leaf and the chouriço in the olive oil, slightly, just until you get that herby savoury scent.

Add the onions, then the garlic and the carrots. Retrieve this mix and let the pan heat a little before adding the minced meat. This is an essential part of the recipe, as you don’t want to stew the meat in the veggie juices; you want to promote a little browning before adding the remaining flavours. Mix in the previously cooked veggies, plus the tomato pulp, water and parsley.

Let the mix set, and cover with plastic wrap. You now have either two options: you choose to stuff the peppers only with the meat, or mix the rice in as well. Keep in mind that if you add the rice it will absorb a lot of moisture, and the meat will taste less juicy than it actually should be. But it’s a matter of preference. I just stuff the peppers with the pork mix, and serve plain rice on the side.

So after stuffing, add sliced onion, olive oil, garlic, as a base of the pan to roast the peppers, and make a juicy sauce.

Bake at 170°C for at least one hour covered with foil, then at 190°C for 20 minutes. This time/temperature barometer I have suggested will depend on how cooked you want your peppers. The longer they are cooked, the tenderer the pepper.

By Megan Melling

Megan Melling’s journey into the food world started in 2011 when she decided to enrol in Cookery and Food Production in Estoril. She was born American, but grew up in the Algarve, so she gets the best of two opposite culinary cultures. She has worked as a cook in Lisbon for the past year and is currently in the process of opening up a gourmet project in Lagos. Check out all of her personal recipes on her blog and facebook page Mel’s Vittles for some yummy photos and food facts.

Photo: Megan Melling