Let's talk about preparing the peppers first. I know that "parboil" is a word that everybody knows; however, with the exception of bread products, I don't think "parbaking" is known for preparing of vegetables. If anyone out there knows otherwise, please email me and let me know. I'm not too old to still be learning. So, with that in mind, you will need 6 medium sized red and/or yellow peppers (nice oval shaped). Preheat your oven to 400. Place peppers on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning them over at 10 minutes. Remove them and set aside to cool. Reduce your oven temp to 350.
Now that you have "parbaked" your peppers, while they are cooling, let's get the rest of the ingredients together and do our prep work. Are you ready? Let's do it then:
1/2 pound of ground beef (20% fat)
1/2 pound of plain ground pork (do not use pork saussage or Italian or anything like that)
1/2 cup of either Panko or plain bread crumbs
1/2 white or yellow onion, minced (food processor works great)
1 medium red tomato, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced (you can put them in the processor along with the onion)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 whole egg
1/4 cup of finely grated Swiss, Gruyere, or Parm.
1 tablespoon of flour
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons of Tomato Paste
4 pinches of salt
4 pinches of pepper
I want to pause here to let you know the amount of salt used is one's personal preference; therefore, you might want more or less than 4 pinches of it for your taste. OK, put all the ingredients into a large bowl, starting with the meat at the bottom. We now want to mix all of this together and I have found the best utensil for doing this are my hands. Dig in, let's get dirty and use your hands to thoroughly mix all ingredients together. Once you've played long enough with your food, go wash your hands.
Now that the peppers have cooled, take a very sharp knife and carefully cut each one in half with the cut being somewhat diagonal (for effect). Remove the seeds and excess filaments. Remember to NOT CUT OFF the stem! You want to make the pepper look whole for presentation. Once you have prepped all the peppers, using a tablespoon, carefully begin stuffing each of the halves, putting the halves back together and placing them into your baking pan. Bake at 350 in the middle rack of your oven for about 50 minutes. For an additional 5 minutes, you can set the oven to broil so that the tops of the peppers can get a skin browning if you wish.
Once baked, remove the peppers and place them all in a long serving dish. You may want to carefully "reslice" the peppers exactly where you originally sliced them because the meat may have fused the two halves together. There will be pan drippings that we are now going to use as our sauce. Pour the pan drippings in a sauce pan, add 1 teaspoon of tomato paste, 1/4 cup of cream, and using a regular or preferably a spring whisk, mix well over medium low heat until sauce begins to steam. Remove and pour over or around the peppers and serve. So the sauce stays warm, I like to warm my serving dish and the best way to do this is to put the dish and the peppers in the oven after you have shut it off. Just leave it in the oven while you're preparing the sauce, usually about 4 minutes. Take care to use an oven mitten when removing the dish.
I think you will love these Stuffed Peppers. The meats will be perfectly cooked and not dry. A perfect side dish is corkscrew macaroni, cooked al dente, and tossed with a tablespoon of tomato paste and a drizzle of olive oil, just like in Italy. Serve with a nice glass of Syrah or Bolla Chella wine.
VEGETARIAN ALERT !!
If you are a Vegan, throw out the meat and use Bob's Red Mill High Protein TVP (textured vegetable protein). To rehydrate the TVP before using, pour 7/8 cup of boiling vegetable stock into 1 cup of TVP and let stand for about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and mix into the other ingredients as you would with the meat. Also, take a couple of brown mushrooms and 1 medium carrot and mince both, add to the mixture. Add a teaspoon of olive oil. This substitute recipe should produce a very nice moist stuffed pepper without the meat. If you make this, let me know how you liked it.