Tag: ground beef

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Eva’s Hungarian Stuffed Peppers

Eva’s Hungarian Stuffed Peppers

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You know those food memories that never leave you? I have quite a few from my time studying abroad in Vienna, Austria. My first schnitzel, apple strudel, eating at CafĂ© Schottenring, trying to figure out a foreign grocery store for the first time (the checkout experience in Germany and Austria is pretty stressful. You’d better bring your own bags and bag your stuff FAST), delicious pastries, and Eva’s stuffed peppers.

On this study abroad in 2009, there were 10 of us music students from BYU, and we lived with host families. My friends Joseph and Ty lived with a couple who employed a cook – Eva. Eva is from Hungary, and she is a delight. She spoke Hungarian and German, but no English. We spoke terrible German, but we did our best through the language barrier and became friends. We would come over and visit Joseph and Ty sometimes, and if we were lucky, Eva would feed us something. Joseph and Ty’s host couple was not overly friendly, and I’m not sure Eva was supposed to feed us, but she liked us, and we liked her, so we got snacks sometimes. On one of these occasions, I was over and Eva came in with plates of Hungarian stuffed peppers.

sour cream being dolloped on top of stuffed peppers

Eva’s peppers were long and thin, stuffed with flavorful meat and rice, and cooked in a thin tomato sauce until the peppers were falling apart. I think these peppers stuck with me for so long because it was just so nice of her to give one to me. I didn’t live there. She really barely knew me, and we could only just communicate, but she fed me. I remember her face. Eva was proud of her peppers. I’m sure they were a recipe from home.

The Stuffed Pepper Saga

I started learning about cooking in 2008, so in 2009 I barely knew anything. Eva’s peppers were so mysterious to me. How on earth did she make them!?

First I tried to figure out the filling. I stuffed bell peppers with a mixture of ground beef (probably way under-seasoned) and uncooked rice, and hoped the rice would cook inside the pepper. The result was bland peppers and beef with crunchy rice. Ew. You need to cook the rice before adding it to the filling. Trust me.

Next was the sauce. I made the mistake several times of not completely covering the peppers in cooking liquid. This results in very unevenly cooked peppers. Submerge the peppers!

After many years, I had mostly given up on re-creating Eva’s peppers. You see, in addition to all of the other before-mentioned problems, I couldn’t find the right pepper. It took me a long time to figure out that Eva probably used Hungarian wax peppers, and those are really, really hard to source in the United States. If you can get your hands on them, use them, you lucky dog! They have a thin wall, which has a much more pleasing texture to eat than a thick bell pepper when cooked until completely soft. Now, you can use a bell pepper. I tested them, and they’re fine, but I found a pepper that has way more flavor.

Bell peppers are great in many applications, and are fine in this one, but I found a better pepper for this dish.

The Lightbulb Moment

I was walking through my friendly neighborhood grocery store a couple of weeks ago, when I saw out of the corner of my eye a thin, long, green pepper. The stuffed peppers of yesteryear called to me, and I wondered, could I make Eva’s stuffed peppers with Anaheim peppers?

The battle of the peppers: Bell vs Anaheim.

The Anaheim pepper is a mild cousin of the New Mexico chili pepper. It has a very similar shape to the Hungarian wax pepper, albeit a different color, and a similarly thin wall. Also, the flavor is much more present than the flavor of the bell peppers. The bell peppers, in my opinion, just kind of turn to mush. The Anaheims, however, have a little more texture to them, which holds up better during the long cooking time. The only drawback is that some Anaheim peppers are spicier than others. None of the peppers that we had were too spicy, in fact about half of them weren’t spicy at all, but if you had someone who was really averse to any spice, these peppers may not be for them.

The Stuffed Pepper Process

I won’t go into too much detail, as all of the instructions are in the recipe below, however, here are some tips and tricks for making Eva’s Hungarian Stuffed Peppers:

  • Stuff your peppers before starting the sauce. That way you’re not trying to babysit the sauce and stuff the peppers at the same time. Not that I did that or anything…
  • The extra filling is your friend. There will be about half of the filling left after stuffing 6 peppers. Make the extra filling into little meatballs and throw them in the pot. Eat the little meatballs with your peppers and be happy.
Little meatballs with their pepper counterparts. You are smart and will add and season your tomato puree before you put your peppers in, unlike it shows in this picture. .
  • Don’t overstuff your peppers. You’ll want to, but the filling expands during cooking, plus you have all your tasty meatballs. Don’t overstuff. Also don’t worry about perfection when you’re stuffing the peppers. If you can’t get filling all the way down the pepper, no biggie. If the pepper cracks, no biggie. It’ll be fine.
  • Add enough chicken stock to submerge the peppers. If they bob up a little, it’s fine, but they need enough liquid to cook properly.
This is a good amount of liquid. That pepper on the left just needs to be pushed down a little.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Keep the lid on, but slide it to one side of the pot a little bit to let some steam escape.
  • Sour cream really adds to the deliciousness of this dish. Don’t skip it.
  • The seasoning for the sauce in the recipe is just a basic guideline. Taste as you go, and adjust as you see fit.

A Note on Authenticity

Is this version of Hungarian stuffed peppers very authentic? Frankly, no. I used a different pepper, sprinkled Creole seasoning throughout the dish, and added corn to the filling. However, I did the best I could to hearken back to my fond memories of Vienna, while cooking with the ingredients that I have around me.

Equipment

  • I really recommend cooking this dish in a 6 to 8 quart enameled Dutch oven (I have a 6 quart). The thick cast iron distributes heat evenly, helping the stuffed peppers cook evenly.
  • A slotted spoon helps to pull the peppers out when they’re done.

Please share this post with your food-loving friends, and don’t forget to tag me @athometestcook when you make this dish!

sour cream being dolloped on top of stuffed peppers

Eva’s Stuffed Peppers

Gracious Cooking
These stuffed peppers are inspired by a meal that was given to me by Eva, a lovely Hungarian cook. My peppers aren't perfectly authentic, but rather are adapted to ingredients readily available in the United States.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Hungarian
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Large (at least 6 quart) Dutch oven

Ingredients
  

For the Peppers

  • 6 Anaheim peppers you can also use bell peppers
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3/4 cup white rice cooked
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels optional. Frozen is fine.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning or spicy seasoning blend of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

For the Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning or spicy seasoning blend of your choice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 28 oz can tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar for adding at the end of cooking
  • 1 quart chicken stock the amount of liquid needed will vary

Garnish

  • sour cream

Instructions
 

To Stuff the Peppers

  • Cut the tops off of the peppers. Using a long, thin knife remove the core and as much of the ribs of the peppers as you can. Don't be too worried about perfection here. Set hollowed out peppers aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, cooked rice, corn, egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Creole seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce and mix until fully combined. Your hands are the best tool for this. Get in there.
  • With your fingers, stuff the filling mixture into the peppers. You'll want to over-stuff them, but resist. There's no need to over-stuff.
  • There will be quite a bit of filling left over. With this filling, form little meatballs with your hands. Set aside, and prepare the sauce.

For the Sauce

  • In a large Dutch oven set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • SautĂ© the diced onions until translucent, about 10 minutes. You may need to decrease the heat after a few minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 of Tony Chachere's seasoning (or another spicy seasoning blend) to the onions about halfway through cooking.
  • Add the 4 cloves of minced or grated garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add tomato puree, sugar, black pepper, and bay leaf to the pot.
  • Add the stuffed peppers and the extra filling meatballs to the sauce.
  • Add enough chicken stock to cover the peppers and meatballs.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer with the lid on, but slid slightly to one side for between 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. Check at 1 and 1/2 hours and see if you like the doneness. The peppers should be able to easily be pierced through with a fork.
  • Serve peppers with sour cream and extra meatballs from the sauce.

Notes

I prefer Anaheim peppers for this recipe, but you can substitute bell peppers if you wish. Anaheim peppers can be a little bit spicy, but most of them are mild.
Keyword Ground Beef, Peppers, Tomato Sauce

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