Last night, feeling better and finally having an appetite after 5 days of strep induced grossness, I took at crack at the challenge I called upon Curtis Stone to tackle.
Since I know Curtis Stone will never actually receive my taunting challenge (unless, of course, some jackal of a creative scout from Food Network or Bravo is out there scouring the little known sites on the internet for new ideas…. and good lord do they need them) I decided it was time to take my own challenge. Having been bedridden for the last 5 days, it was no surprise that I found scarce amounts of sustenance in my kitchen. You could sum it up by listing fuzzy strawberries and some orange bell peppers hanging on for dear life by a thread.
After searching the freezer, we found some ground beef, and I knew immediately what was for dinner:
Stuffed roasted orange peppers
Ingredients: 2 bell peppers, 1/2 jalapeno pepper, ground beef, rice, stock, canned tomato, onion, garlic, olive oil,butter and whatever condiments you got lying around (I’ll explain later)
Preheat the oven to 350.
Cut out the stem and seeds from the bell peppers and wrap them in aluminum foil.
I put them in the oven (fully wrapped) hole-side down so that the juices would trickle out and not sit in the bottom of the pepper for the 30 or so minutes it takes to roast them through. Depending on the presentation you want at the end, you may want to roast them for less time. The longer they’re in the oven, the softer they get. So when you peel that sort of tough waxy outer skin off your roasted pepper (and you want to do that), a less cooked pepper will have a better chance of being able to be stuffed whole and be served standing up.
While the peppers are in the oven, dice 1 onion, finely chop up your garlic (about 4-5 cloves) and, depending on your taste, 1/2 or 1 whole jalapeno. Then arrange the results artistically near soft light so as to take ridiculously over worked photos of them for your own food blog.
Over medium heat, melt a large tab of butter into a few teaspoons of olive oil. When the butter has melted, but not yet starting to brown, sauté the onion first until translucent and then add the garlic and jalapeno peppers (with seeds if you like heat!) I think I put some fresh thyme in the onions while they were sautéing, but I just happened to have that lying around, so don’t worry about it if you don’t have any.
Then you want to add your ground beef (defrosted, obviously, and patted dry). Once the meat releases some of its juices, add the uncooked NOT INSTANT rice. The idea here is the juices from all your other ingredients will cook the rice. Not to mention, your rice will soak up all those awesome flavors from the sauce in which it’s cooking!
It is at this point that you can start madly experimenting with condiments you found in the fridge. I added a few splashes Worchestire sauce, some soy sauce (for Umami, naturally) cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and a large can with juices of canned tomatoes.
Turn the heat down to low, and simmer uncovered until you notice the juices are running low. This is where the stock comes in handy. Essentially, from this point out it’s like you’re making the poor man’s risotto. You gotta keep replenishing the juices until the rice is fully cooked. Don’t forget to stir with some regularity.
I thought it would be a worthy experiment to add some beer to the mix to see what that would bring, flavor wise, to the sauce. It was Dos Equis… most interesting, I know! Honestly, I just had lying around the house.
You want to add any alcohol first so it loses that straight alcohol taste while it simmers and doesn’t make it appear that you accidentally spilled your drink in the food when it comes time to serve it. So I added about 1/2 bottle of beer and let that simmer then from here on out I added chicken stock. I would guess it took about 2 cups of stock to fully cook the rice. You just want to keep sampling little bites of the rice to gauge when it’s fully cooked. Once the rice is fully cooked, let the rest of the liquids cook out (you want the rice, beef and veg mix to be sticky not soupy!) Then taste for salt and pepper and serve with your roasted pepper.