Stuffed Peppers / Meatballs & Peppers
Credit: Marika’s Kitchen
- 10 Hungarian peppers (to fill, if available, but they rarely are) OR 5 or 6 tri-colored bell peppers, cleaned, trimmed and quartered to add to the sauce near the end to serve on the side)
- 75 oz. (2,218.05 ml) organic tomato sauce
- 75 oz. (2,218.05 ml) water
- 1 1/4 cups (281g) long grain white rice (uncooked)
- 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups water (for rice)
- 1 tsp. (10g) salt (for rice)
- Dash of olive oil (for rice)
- 1/2 cup (108g) olive oil
- 6 cups (667g) organic yellow or brown onions diced fine (3 medium onions)
- 10 cloves (36g) organic garlic minced
- 1 1/4 cups (85g) organic Italian parsley minced
- 4 lbs. (1.81kg) ground pork
- 2 Tbsp. (40g) salt
- 1 Tbsp. (7g) crushed black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. (21g) sweet Hungarian paprika (optional)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/3 cup (82g) organic cane sugar or maple syrup (or to taste. I usually add 1/2 cup maple syrup)
To Thicken Sauce, optional
- 1/4 cup (53g) oil
- 1/2 (71g) cup flour
- (approx.. 6 or more cups of tomato sauce from pot; about 1/2 sauce)
- Cut tops off of the peppers and scoop seeds from cavities. Rinse peppers and set aside.
- Cook 1 ¼ cups rice in 1 ¼ – 1 1/2 cups of water with 1 tsp. salt and a dash of olive oil until half cooked; Approx. 10min. remove lid, stir rice and set aside and let cool.
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Sautee onions approx. 8 to 10 minutes stirring frequently till translucent, add garlic and parsley. Sautee 2-3 more minutes. Mix well and let cool approx. 10 minutes. Rice and onions can be mixed together and spread out in large mixing bowl to cool more quickly.
- Combine ground pork, cooled onion mixture, cooled rice, 2 Tbsp. salt, 1 Tbsp crushed black pepper, Hungarian paprika (optional) 4 eggs and mix everything very well until everything is incorporated evenly.
- Prepare a separate bowl with cold water to wash and wet your hands in as you roll the meat balls to keep it from sticking to your hands.
- I either use a 1/3 cup measuring cup or weigh each meatball to keep the meatballs consistent in size. This recipe can yield 36 84g meatballs. (if I have high quality Hungarian white peppers, I will fill about ten peppers and leave the rest as meat balls. If I don’t have Hungarian peppers, I just use an assortment of two red, 2 yellow and 2 orange organic peppers and clean them, quarter them and add them to the sauce when the meatballs have cooked for about 40 minutes so they remain firm rather than turn to mush. I serve the quartered peppers on the side for those who enjoy them.
- Fill Stock pot with tomato sauce and water. I use a 16 quart stock pot. For every can of tomato sauce I add equal part water. After pouring tomato sauce into pot, I fill the can with water and dump that in as well. This way it also cleans out the can of all tomato sauce. Bring sauce to a boil over medium high heat.
- While sauce is warming, if filling peppers, fill pepper cavities with meat/rice mixture and gently place them in the heating sauce. If your peppers are frozen, be sure to fill them while they are frozen and add them to pot while they are frozen as well.
- Add remaining meat balls to heating sauce, rotating pan to stir sauce as needed to allow all meat balls to fit. If the sauce is hot enough, they will not stick together or fall apart.
- Be careful not to drop meatballs/stuffed peppers in or thrown them in. Either put /slip them into the sauce very gently with your hand close to the surface in a way that does not create splatters or use a slotted long handled spoon of some kind to put them in. Sometimes when people get anxious about the hot sauce, they toss them in in a way that creates a burn hazard for themselves as well as anyone else standing by. The sauce just needs to be hot, not yet boiling when you are adding the meatballs and/or stuffed peppers.
- When sauce begins to boil, reduce heat to medium to medium low, cover pot and simmer 30 to 40 minutes carefully stirring occasionally. You want it to have a medium(ish) level boil.
- Cook until peppers are tender and filling is cooked through.
- About 20 minutes in to the cooking of the meatballs/stuffed peppers, add 1/4 to 1/3 cups sugar to sauce and carefully rotate pot back and forth in circular motion to stir sugar into sauce without breaking up the meatballs and or stuffed peppers.
An optional step to thicken sauce:
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Add ½ cup flour. (Wondra flour is less likely to clump) Stir continually and cook for approx. 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Ladle out approximately 6 cups of tomato sauce from pot into roux and mix very well. Place back on burner to thicken, stirring well and removing rue from corners of pan to incorporate into thickened sauce. If too thick, add more sauce from pot, continuing to stir until smooth.
- Pour thickened sauce back into pot with meatballs/stuffed Peppers and rotate pot to stir sauce and incorporate thickened sauce into remaining sauce.
- This recipe makes either 36 84g meatballs or 10 stuffed peppers and approximately 26 84g meatballs. It of course depends on the size of your peppers. I usually toss in a few more pepper wedges near the end to keep them firm. I like the organic tri colored peppers. 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange; quartered that I find at Trader Joes. Many of us like the peppers and the colors add beauty to the dish.
- Hungarian Peppers are seasonal as well as very difficult to find. Last year a friend got me some at a Saturday morning Farmers Market in Torrance in Southern California. I bought quite a bit at the time and cleaned them and froze them in zip lock bags; 10 to a bag. They stayed really nice for a whole year. When you use them, you have to fill them while they are still frozen and add them to the heating tomato sauce while they are still frozen as well to keep them from turning to mush. Of course they are best fresh but they really add a nice authentic touch and flavor to the dish when they are available.
- My mom always made the roux and thickened the sauce with it but with all the gluten trouble so many people have, I have started leaving that step out and for those that can’t tolerate the gluten, it is a nice treat to be able to share this dish with them as well. We actually don’t even miss it at all. Your choice though. ☺ Maybe try it both ways and see what you prefer.