Stuffed peppers that don't burn on to the pot

Rex Kerr
  • Stuffed peppers that don't burn on to the pot Rex Kerr

    My wife and I enjoy peppers stuffed with a meat/rice mix (with spices). We start with raw peppers and uncooked meat, and put the peppers in a small pot (or tagine) with tomato puree or tomato paste-based sauce around them, and cook for ~40 minutes. The result is usually to our liking (tasty, meat is cooked through, peppers are an appropriate firmness, etc.), with one exception: the peppers always burn on to the bottom of the pot. This puzzles me, since the tomato-based sauce around them boils gently or simmers, which I would have thought meant that there was enough liquid to keep the peppers from burning on. Apparently not!

    Does anyone have methods for cooking this or a similar dish that avoids burning? (Again, the dish tastes great--the burnt-on pepper just complicates clean-up.)

  • At that length of time, peppers will burn to your pot pretty much regardless. I'd suggest placing some parchment under the peppers.

  • Bring it to a simmer on the stove, then stick the pot in the oven.

  • The sauce itself will stay not much above 212 F, but locally at the bottom, it can get much higher and scorch, and that will be especially true under the peppers. One option would be to cook the peppers and filling separately, then stuff the peppers and simmer them only briefly with the sauce. You could also try oiling the pot, that may help some.

  • You need a small wire grid to put on the bottom of your tagine. You can make one by cutting up an old cake cooling rack

    Also consider baking for 3/4 of the time and then switching the oven to grill with the tagine lid off for the remaining 1/4 time (or thereabouts) . This should still keep them moist, but just lightly crisp the pepper tops without burning the tops or bottoms. These results are not to every tagine owners liking though

  • I often make stuffed peppers with a rice/mince mix in the oven. A little brown on the peppers is good - some of the nicest pepper flavour comes from the Maillard reactions; I do a number of things to prevent the peppers being too burnt, though:

    • I use raw peppers, seared mince and half-cooked rice (i.e. for Basmati, same volume of water and rice in a pot, bring to boil, let all the water boil out).

    • I put a little butter in the bottom of the pot, and put the liquid / herb / spare stuffing mix in before the peppers so that a layer of sauce separates the peppers from the bottom of the pot. I also add a small amount of the liquid into the stuffing mixture itself. (The liquid component is typically not tomato based for me, though; I have tried variations with a tomato base a number of times and generally find them too sour for my liking. I use stock made with bayleaf, and creme fraiche - this works even better for stuffed cabbage leaves :) )

    • As the mince is pre-seared and the stuffing mixture already warm when the peppers are stuffed, I can get away with a lower oven temperature than would otherwise be required to ensure it is cooked through. I generally also go for a longer cooking time than 40 minutes. I use enough liquid to reach about a third of the way up the peppers at most, and cover the pot with foil to prevent it from boiling dry and to allow the top to steam; unlike a pot / casserole dish lid, foil is thin enough that the tops of the peppers / stuffing will begin to brown and crisp towards the end of cooking.

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