If I had to choose one underappreciated meal from my childhood, it'd be stuffed peppers. I just didn't get the appeal of a baked vegetable (which I now know to be a fruit) stuffed and served on a plate. Oh, if only my little taste buds recognized the true greatness.
My mom would usually stick to a ground beef mix, but sometimes she'd stuff it with jambalaya or dirty rice. Those were the magic moments that felt like a treat on an otherwise ordinary weeknight. Since this fall season has seen me in the groove of reaching back for childhood staples, I decided to give stuffed peppers a second take.
The dirty rice in this recipe calls for chicken livers. Personally, I love to momentarily get into my macabre bag and feel like Hannibal, but I know some people are squeamish about working with innards. You can omit them, but I personally feel like the overall flavor of the rice suffers. Another option is to puree the livers in a blender. It's a no fuss way prepare the livers for the rice.
Dirty Rice Stuffed Peppers
For the Dirty Rice
4 c. cooked and chilled white rice
2 tbsp. oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, deseeded and finely diced
1 lb. ground pork
1 tbsp. Creole seasoning
1 tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ lb. chicken liver, finely chopped or pureed
½ c. beef or chicken stock
¼ c. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Stuffed Peppers
Dirty rice (see above)
6 bell peppers, topped with seeds and ribs removed
Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
Parsley, for garnish (optional)
Day or two old long-grain white rice is best for this recipe. You can make a fresh pot of rice, but you want the rice to be a little dried out. If using fresh rice, omit the ½ cup of stock.
For extra flavor, sauté the vegetables in animal fat. I used duck fat for this recipe. Bacon drippings could also work.
Another option is to make the dirty rice a day ahead and stuff the peppers with the cold rice before placing in the oven.
You'll likely have left over dirty rice after stuffing the peppers. Enjoy on it's own or as a side dish!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Yield: 6 stuffed peppers, plus leftover dirty rice
Special Equipment: Large skillet or sauté pan, baking dish, and blender (optional; see notes)
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
In a large skillet or pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent (about 7 minutes). Add the garlic and jalapeño, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
Add the ground pork, Creole seasoning, paprika, and thyme and cook, breaking up the sausage as tiny as possible, until little pink is left. Now add in the liver and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Once the liver is nearly brown, add in your rice, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Continue stirring for a few minutes to fry the rice and heat through. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before adding to the peppers.
Stuff peppers with dirty rice. Stand peppers upright in ungreased baking dish. Pour just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bell peppers are tender. Uncover and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley. Enjoy!