Lidey Heuck’s Stuffed Peppers
It’s been another week of not knowing what will happen next. Is anyone else confused?
Talking about recipes right now feels frivolous. But for me, it is salvation. Getting to work in the kitchen is creativity, it is relaxation, it is distraction. It is one thing I can do for other people that I am pretty sure will make them happy. And that makes me happy. It is not more important than everything going on in our world, but it is important in a universal way. Food connects us. Even if we are sharing recipes over the internet.
This week I’m sharing Lidey Heuck’s recipe for Stuffed Peppers, which she published in The New York Times, because it is just the kind of humble comfort we need, at least at my house. Peppers with ground beef and tomato sauce, rice and cheese, are warm and a little bit spicy, and delicious. They are a good, simple dinner that may, while being eaten around the table, spark important conversations. Or, they might take you away from thinking and feeling, for just a little while.
Note: I skipped the fennel/celery, because I didn’t have any. And I substituted Rao’s Marinara for the fire-roasted tomatoes, again, because that is what I had on hand.
Lidey Heuck’s Stuffed Peppers
from NYT Cooking
4 large red, orange or yellow bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped fennel bulb (about ½ a small bulb) or celery
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 pound ground beef (at least 15 percent fat), turkey, chicken or pork
¾ cup dry white wine, chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, plus more for serving (optional)
1 cup shredded mozzarella, provolone or semifirm cheese
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and carefully remove core, seeds and ribs using a paring knife. Arrange the peppers, cut-sides up, in a 9-by-13-inch pan or other baking dish in which they fit snugly.
In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the fennel and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano and red-pepper flakes, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 3 to 5 minutes, until no longer pink.
Add 1/2 cup wine, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the liquid in the pan is reduced by about half.
Add the tomatoes and their juices, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, Parmesan and parsley, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Divide the mixture among the peppers. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup wine into the bottom of the dish, wrap tightly with foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a paring knife easily pierces the peppers. Remove the foil and spoon any juices that have accumulated in the bottom of the pan onto the peppers. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly onto the peppers and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown.
Allow the peppers to cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle with parsley, if using, and serve hot.
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