We like stuffed peppers. They’re easy to make. Easy to bake. They liven up the dinner plate, looking a bit nicer than pepper strips. You can stuff them ahead of time, and you can use just about anything as stuffing. They’re just a nice thing to keep in mind when you want to use up some leftovers — at least, that’s what we often do.
But, there’s one thing we don’t like. Sometimes, especially when you stuff the peppers ahead of time and refrigerate them before baking, the peppers — even though you might have baked them an hour or longer — still are crunchy in spots. Don’t get us wrong, we like crunchy peppers, just not stuffed and hot. And, for some reason, we never realized the secret to making stuffed peppers.
We’ll show you what we did when we made these black bean and rice stuffed peppers for a quick meal the other day, and, if you follow the secret (from The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S Roumbauer and Marion Roumbauer Becker), your peppers will be perfect every time.
Of course, you don’t have to use black beans and rice for the filling. Use what you like, although rice seems to be a traditional filling. So, maybe rice and tomatoes, topped with Cheddar. Or a rice and vegetable blend. Or even leftover stuffing and turkey from Thanksgiving. The type of stuffing is only limited by your imagination.
Procedure in detail:
Clean peppers. Slice the peppers in half and remove the seeds and membranes. If you’re using peppers other than mild ones for stuffing, this is very important, as most of the heat in peppers is in the seeds and membranes. And, if you’re using a hot pepper, always wash your hands after handling, or you might be in for some inadvertent pain when you rub your eyes. Ouch!
Blanch and shock. This is the secret to perfect stuffed peppers. I know you don’t want to do this, but it’s not hard to blanch and shock the peppers, so just do it. You won’t regret it. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil and drop in the pepper halves. Let the water come back to a boil, and cook the peppers for 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking (and make them easy to handle), and drain again.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8-inch pan with olive oil.
Make a bed. We always like our peppers on a bed of whatever we’re using for stuffing. But, it’s not necessary, so if you’re low on stuffing ingredients, you can omit this step; or, if you have lots of stuffing ingredients, use more than we recommend. We placed a single layer of black beans on the bottom, followed by a layer of rice. Yes, we could have mixed the two together, but we liked the idea of keeping them separate.
Stuff. Using the remaining stuffing ingredients, fill the peppers with equal amounts of black beans and rice. We filled one side with rice the other with black beans, and were toying with the idea of calling these television peppers. Black and white. Get it? Aw, we thought not. Once filled, place the peppers on the bed of rice and beans so that they just touch, and cover with foil or baking parchment.
Bake. Bake the peppers for 30 to 40 minutes, or until heated through. No need to worry about waiting until the peppers are tender, thanks to … the secret.
Top. With black bean and rice, we topped our peppers with a dab of sour cream.
This is definitely a five-star “secret.” Literally, for years we would make stuffed peppers by filling raw pepper halves. Then we’d bake and bake, check the peppers, bake some more, check. We’d think that they seemed done, only to discover that the pepper that sat on the bed of stuffing was still crunchy. We figure that at least 50% of the time, we were eating stuffed peppers in which the peppers needed to be cooked more. But, that’s history for us. And, if you follow the blanch and shock step, it’ll be history for you, too.