Many different kinds of sweet peppers are grown in Spain, but the piquillo is among the most highly prized. Small, triangular, and sweet with just a hint of heat, the best piquillos come from the Navarre region, where they are roasted over wood fires and packed into jars or cans. If you cannot find piquillos, you can use red bell peppers, but seek out the smallest ones available and cut away the thick interior ribs.
You can simply stuff these peppers and then warm them through in hot broth. Or, for a slightly more elaborate—and tastier—preparation, you can stuff them, coat them with egg and flour, fry them until golden, and then warm them in hot broth.–Joyce Goldstein
Meat-Stuffed Peppers, Rioja Style
- Quick Glance
- 50 M
- 1 H
- Serves 8
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 3/4 pound ground beef, or 6 ounces each ground beef and ground pork
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 16 to 24 whole piquillo peppers or 8 fresh red pimiento or small bell peppers, roasted and peeled (buy it)
- For Optional Frying
- Canola oil or part olive oil and part canola oil, for deep-frying
- 2 large eggs
- About 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1. In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and chopped bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the beef and garlic, and cook slowly, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the meat is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and flour and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to bind the mixture. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- 2. Slit each piquillo along one side and remove the seeds. Using a small spoon, carefully stuff the peppers with the meat mixture. Skewer each pepper closed with a toothpick if you will not be frying them. If you will be frying them, let the filling cool before you stuff the peppers, and then pinch the peppers closed and refrigerate for a few hours or until firm.
- 3. For best results, fry the peppers about 1 hour or so ahead of time and then heat them in the broth just before serving. To fry the peppers, pour the oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches into a deep saute pan and heat to 370°F (188°C) on a deep-frying thermometer. While the oil is heating, lightly beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Spread some flour for dusting in a second shallow bowl. When the oil is ready, dip a stuffed pepper into the beaten eggs, allowing the excess to drip off, and then into the flour, coating evenly and shaking off the excess. Slip the pepper into the hot oil and repeat with more peppers, being careful not to crowd the pan. Fry until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
- 4. Arrange the peppers—fried or unfried—in a cazuela or wide pan large enough to hold all of them in a single layer. Pour the broth over the peppers, cover, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until heated through. Or, heat in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
- 5. Sprinkle the peppers with the parsley and serve warm.
- Omit the beef broth. In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 small onion, chopped, and 2 cloves garlic, minced, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 pound red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 jar (8 ounces) whole piquillos or pimientos, drained and chopped, and 1/2 cup chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove from the heat, pour into a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use in place of the beef broth.
- Suggested wine
- Spanish: Rosé (Navarre, Cigales, Campo de Boria), Garnacha/blend (Navarre, Catalyud, Cariñena)
- Non-Spanish: Dry rosé (Italy, France, California), pinot noir (Argentina, California, Oregon, New Zealand)
Recipe Testers Reviews
Though these peppers have fewer ingredients than most I’ve made in the past, they were very tasty. The recipe included an option for frying them after they were stuffed, but I didn’t do this. (Next time I will.) Instead, I sautéed the meat and other ingredients—onion, bell pepper, ground beef, garlic—and bound the mixture with flour and butter and stuffed the peppers. Thankfully the filling didn’t seep out. I think that 1 cup of broth would’ve been sufficient rather than the 1 1/2 to 2 cups stated in the recipe, but that would depend on the size of the container you put them in. The addition of the broth “bath” was a clever one. Often we melt cheese over stuffed peppers but these didn’t need it. Cheese would’ve just been an unnecessary ingredient here, which is hard for me to say because cheese and I are very good friends. The peppers were savory with a great texture, too. I can see adding in chopped mushrooms another time but would exercise caution because these simple little babies were just fine on their own.