Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ground Beef Stuffed Peppers (Etli Biber Dolmasi)


Vegetables stuffed with meat are very common and popular specialties in many cuisines around the world. Well, here's a real staple from Turkish cuisine we cannot live without... The most wonderful thing about this dish for me is the unique green pepper flavor infused into the meat and into the juice/sauce, as everything cooks together in one pot... Eating the stuffed peppers with yogurt and a slice of fresh bread... A happy happy combination...


Ingredients: (Serves 6)

  • 1 pound ground beef (preferably 80/20)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped or grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup medium-grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 7 large cubanelle peppers (OR 14-15 small Turkish green bell peppers)
  • 1/2-1 cup water


Directions:

  • Put the first 7 ingredients into a shallow bowl and mix gently with your hands (put on latex gloves for this task) until evenly combined. Set aside.
  • Cut and discard the tops of the cubanelle peppers. Cut the peppers in half, clean the insides (seeds and membranes) and put them in a shallow pot (with a lid) standing up (The end of one of the halves will not be flat; cut a very thin piece from that end to make it flat, so that it can stand up in the pot).
  • Stuff the peppers gently with the meat mixture, until they look completely full; do not try to squeeze too much filling into the peppers, otherwise they will fall apart during cooking.
  • Pour 1/2-1 cup water into the bottom of the pot, close the lid. Cook it over medium heat until the water in the pot comes to a gentle boil.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low (or to low, depending on the size of the burner - this dish should be cooked gently). Cook for 30-60 minutes until the rice in the meat stuffing looks cooked (the rice gets longer and becomes soft). Start checking after 30 minutes.
  • Serve the stuffed peppers with the juice in the pot poured over them as a sauce and with a dollop of plain yogurt.

Additional points:

  • Since I cannot find Turkish green bell peppers here in America which are much smaller and have a thinner flesh than American bell peppers, I try to bring the cubanelle peppers to the size of Turkish bell peppers, because flavor wise cubanelle peppers are the closest to the bell peppers which are traditionally used for this dish.
  • If you can find Turkish bell peppers, do not discard the tops after cutting them off. After cleaning the insides and stuffing them with meat, put the tops back on the peppers and let them cook with the tops on. It is a wonderful embellishment for this dish; plus, it adds flavor and keeps the moisture inside.
  • By the way, you can definitely use a mix of other veggies to stuff for this dish, like zucchinis, eggplants, tomatoes etc. You just need to scoop out and clean the insides and cut them into a size to make them fit and stand up in the pot.

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