Mary Anne's Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

My family loves stuffed bell peppers, but some of the recipes I have tried are too bland for my family's spicy tastes. If you do not "like it hot", use tomato sauce instead of Rotel. It will still be scrumptious and packed full of flavor! I always say that a recipe is not the Ten Commandments; it's more like the Ten Suggestions. Alter the recipe to fit your own personal tastes and budget.

6-8 red, yellow orange or green bell peppers, (depending on size)

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced tiny

4-6 cloves garlic, minced, less if you're not a garlic aficionado

1 pound ground chuck

1 pound ground Italian sausage, mild, sweet, or hot

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves or 4 Tablespoons dried parsley flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pinch red pepper flakes, or more if you like more heat

1 cup cooked bulgur wheat, quinoa, couscous or long grain white rice, (For added flavor cook the bulgur, quinoa, couscous or rice in beef broth)

2 eggs

1 can (10 ounces) Rotel, drained, reserve liquid

1 small (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Topping Sauce, optional

1/2 cup ketchup

Dash Worcestershire sauce

1-2 teaspoons of reserved Rotel liquid

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut bell peppers in half; remove stems, membranes and seeds. If using, mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Place bell peppers on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for approximately 3 minutes or until just tender. You may have to do this in a couple of batches. If you don't have a microwave, place peppers in a large pot of boiling water and parboil them until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels.
  • In a large saut pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and minced garlic and saut, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove and place in large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Drizzle remaining olive oil (used to cook onions and garlic) inside the peppers. Stuff the bell peppers with the meat mixture. Note: I like to really stuff the bell peppers with lots of the meat mixture. If using, top with sauce mixture. Place in a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  • Add 1/4 cup water, chicken or beef broth to bottom of pan. Bake for approximately 60 minutes or until the internal temperature is 150 to 160 degrees F. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 6 to 8.

Note: Some grocery stores are now selling a mixture of ground beef and ground pork called "Boston Beef". Whenever I can find it, I use that mixture in my stuffed peppers, as well as in my meat loaf and meatballs.

Note: You will probably have meat mixture leftover; however, you have several options. You can add more mixture to each already stuffed pepper. You can make meatballs; bake them at 350 degrees F. for approximately 15 to 20 minutes depending on size and then freeze them in zip lock bags for future use. You can also make small meat loafs for sandwiches or you can freeze the entire mixture in bulk and add it to your next meatloaf, bell pepper, or meatball mixture.