Stuffed Peppers / Punjene paprike

You know it’s autumn in Zagreb when you’re walking down the street and whole neighborhoods smell of stuffed peppers simmering. It makes me want to just randomly invite myself to peoples’ apartments and sit down at their table. Feed me your peppers, yo! I am crazy about this dish. It’s perfect – warm, hearty, filling, tasty, simple. And, you can make a humongous batch and freeze for later, which I always do. More often than not, my ambitions exceed the capacities of my pots. There’s always something spilling and bubbling over, because I’ve filled the pot to the brim. What can I say, I have a problem.

The key to making fantastic stuffed peppers is in two things: picking out the right peppers and picking out the right meat. Pick out peppers that are big, meaty and with intense smell. They don’t need to look perfect. You’re not gonna force them into a beauty pageant. Mine were all spotty and overripe. Petals were dark brown with a bit of gunk here and there. In other words, they were just right.

When it comes to meat, try to avoid buying prepackaged ground meats. Ever. That’s just not the right way to do ground meat. Supermarket ground meat is filled with preservatives to extend its shelf life. No one knows how long it’s been minced and hanging around. I won’t even go into the abyss off imagining from how many animals and which body parts it came from. I really think that ground meat should be used up on the same day it was minced. So, if you can’t mince it yourself, ask your butcher to do it for you and use it up on the same day.

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Okay, now that we’ve got these important questions out of the way, let’s do some stuffed peppers!

INGRIDIENTS:

(Yields 14 stuffed peppers / 1.03 EUR per stuffed pepper / 14.55 EUR for the whole batch)

14 large bell peppers – around 2 kilos (2.13 EUR)

1.5 kilo of mixed ground beef and pork – 50:50 (10.66 EUR)

1 large egg (0.20 EUR)

1 large onion, finely diced (0.13 EUR)

4 garlic cloves, minced (0.13 EUR)

1 chili pepper, seeds discarded, then finely diced (0.07 EUR)

Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped (0.13 EUR)

½ cup rice (0.07 EUR)

1 ½ tsp salt (0.01 EUR)

1 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika (0.07 EUR)

¼ tsp cayenne pepper (0.01 EUR)

½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper (0.01 EUR)

1 kilo tomato puree – 2 boxes (0.93 EUR)

Warm water to submerge the peppers – around 1 liter (–)

METHOD:

Wash peppers and remove stem and seeds with a small paring knife. In a large bowl, using your hands, mix ground meat with egg, diced onion, minced garlic, diced chilly, chopped parsley, rice, salt, paprika, cayenne and black pepper until thoroughly combined. Stuff prepared peppers with the filling and neatly arrange in a deep pot. Once all the filling and peppers are used up, pour tomato puree over. As necessary, add warm water until most of the peppers are submerged. Don’t worry if they are peeking out here and there, as they will cook through from the steam within the pot.

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Simmer on medium heat for two hours, with lid cracked open, so extra steam can escape. There is no need to stir this dish at all, as peppers are lighter than liquid and will float above the pot bottom, hence escaping the peril of ending burned.

Once cooked, serve with mashed potatoes.

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This dish freezes and reheats tremendously and tastes even better on the second day.


Znate da je jesen u Zagrebu kada cijeli kvartovi mirišu po punjenim paprikama. Od toga mi dođe da banem ljudima doma i samo se sparkiram za njihov stol. Dajte mi vaše paprike! Luda sam za ovim jelom jer je savršeno – toplo, domaće, zasitno, fino i jednostavno. I možete napraviti gargantuansku porciju i onda smrznuti za crne dane, a što ja uvijek napravim. Često moje ambicije premašuju kapacitete mojih lonaca. Uvijek mi nešto iskipi jer natrpam previše paprika. Što reći, imam problem.

Dvije su stvari ključne kod toga da paprike ispadnu fantastične: prave paprike i pravo meso. Uzmite paprike koje su debele, mesnate i intenzivnog mirisa. Ne moraju izgledati savršeno jer ih nećete natjerati na izbor za miss. Moje su bile točkaste i prezrele. Peteljke su bile smeđe i povenute, sa mjestima koje je trebalo izrezati van. Drugim riječima, bile su savršene.

Kada je u pitanju meso, probajte izbjegavati pakirano faširano meso. Uvijek. Dućansko faširano meso puno je konzervansa da može dulje stajati na polici. Nitko nema pojma o tome kada je smljeveno. Neću ni ulaziti u priču od koliko je životinja napravljeno i kojih sve njihovih dijelova. Mislim da je najbolje faširano meso iskoristiti isti dan kada je smljeveno. Ako ne možete sami samljeti meso, zamolite mesara da vam to napravi od komada koje ste izabrali i iskoristite ga obavezno isti dan.

Okej, sada kada smo riješili ove bitne stavke, idemo puniti paprike!

SASTOJCI:

(Za 14 punjenih paprika / 7,80 kn po punjenoj paprici / 109,16 kn za sve)

14 velikih paprika babura – oko 2 kg (16,00 kn)

1,5 kg miješanog mljevenog junećeg i svinjskog mesa – 50:50 (80,00 kn)

1 jaje (1,50 kn)

1 veliki luk, sitno nasjeckan (1,00 kn)

4 češnja češnjaka, sitno nasjeckana (1,00 kn)

1 čili papričica, sjemenke bačene, pa sitno nasjeckana (0,50 kn)

1 svežanj peršina, sitno nasjeckan (1,00 kn)

½ šalice riže (0,50 kn)

1 ½ žličica soli (0,01 kn)

1 žlica slatke paprike (0,50 kn)

¼ žličice kajenskog papra (ili ljute paprike) (0,10 kn)

½ žličice svježe mljevenog crnog papra (0,05 kn)

1 kg pasirane rajčice – 2 tetrapaka (7,00 kn)

Tople vode da paprike budu potopljene – oko 1 litra (–)

PRIPREMA:

Operite paprike i nožićem im odstranite peteljke i koštice. U velikoj zdjeli rukama dobro izmješajte mljeveno meso, jaje, nasjeckane luk, češnjak, čili i peršin, rižu, sol, slatku papriku, kajenski papar i crni papar dok se svi sastojci ne prožmu. Punite paprike smjesom i uredno slažite u duboki lonac. Kada ste iskoristili svu smjesu i paprike, prelijte sve pasiranom rajčicom i dodajte vode dok paprike uglavnom nisu potopljene. Nema veze ako malo i strše van jer će se skuhati od pare u loncu.

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Krčkajte na srednje jakoj vatri dva sata, sa poklopcem mrvicu odškrinutim da višak pare može izaći van. Nema potrebe uopće miješati jer su paprike lakše od tekućine pa će se odignuti od dna lonca i neće zagoriti.

Kada su paprike kuhane, poslužite ih sa pire krumpirom.

Ovo se jelo super smrzava i podgrijava, a još je finije idući dan.

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Stuffed Peppers / Punjene paprike

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