This recipe was inspired by a traditional Bosnian recipe I came across online a while back. That recipe saw the peppers stuffed with ground beef and rice before being served with a type of potato salad. Prior to discovering that recipe, for some reason I had always considered stuffed bell peppers to be more often than not a vegetarian dish, so I decided to take it full circle and make them not only a hearty and meaty feast, but give them a bit of a kick with a variety of spices. As the stew in this recipe requires long, slow cooking, you may wish to make it one night before cooling and refrigerating it to make the stuffed peppers proper for dinner the following evening.
Spicy beef stew stuffed bell peppers are served on a bed of turmeric spiced rice
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 1 pound shin of beef
- 1 small to medium white onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves - 2 peeled and finely diced for stew, 1 peeled and grated for rice
- 2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
- 1 pint fresh beef stock
- 4 small ears of corn, cut to one inch pieces
- 1 medium size and strength red chili, seeded and moderately finely diced
- Generous handful fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1 red bell pepper, halved and seeded
- 1 yellow bell pepper, halved and seeded
- 1 green bell pepper, halved and seeded
- 1 cup (8 ounces) basmati or long grain rice
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 8 large basil leaves, rolled and finely shredded
- 1/2 cup grated or shredded cheddar or similar hard cheese
- 1 small tomato
Chop the shin of beef in to approximately one inch cubes. Pour the sunflower or vegetable oil in to a large stew pot and bring it up to a medium heat. Put the beef in to the heated oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir it around with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes until all the pieces are evenly browned and sealed.
Add the onion slices and cook in a similar way for another minute or two until the onion strands begin to soften and turn translucent.
Pour the canned tomatoes and the beef stock in to the pot. Stir well and turn the heat temporarily up to high, just until the liquid reaches a simmer. Adjust the heat again to a level which will just maintain the simmer. Put the lid on the pot and simmer for an initial one hour.
When that first hour is up, the sweetcorn and chili should be added to the cooking stew. Do make sure you know the strength of your chili, asking advice in store at the point of purchase if necessary. If it is on the milder side, you may wish to leave the pale colored seed membranes in place, rather than removing them with the seeds. It is these membranes which contain the bulk of a chili's heat, not the seeds themselves as is commonly believed.
Give the spinach a rinse in a colander under running cold water before adding it also to the pot. Stir very well and bring back to a simmer - this time uncovered - for a further hour or until the beef pieces become tender, stirring occasionally. It's unlikely it will happen if you maintain a low enough simmer but if the liquid level does become too low, you can add a little bit of boiling water just to top it up. When the beef is tender, turn off the heat, cover the pot and leave the stew to cool completely. It is at this stage you have the option to refrigerate the stew and complete the dish the following evening.
Put your oven on to preheat to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4.
If you don't have a large enough baking sheet to take the six pepper halves, you may have to use two smaller ones. Either way, lightly oil the sheet or sheets to prevent the peppers sticking. If you find the pepper halves are unlikely to sit upright on the tray, shave a little bit off the underside of each half with a very sharp knife, being careful not to go all the way through.
The pepper halves should be laid with their open cups uppermost on the tray. A teaspoon is best used to carefully fill each one with some of the cooled stew. Put the tray(s) in to the preheated oven for thirty minutes.
When the peppers have been in the oven for about ten minutes, put two medium sized pots of cold water on to your stove top to reach a rolling boil. Season one of the pots with salt and the other with both salt and the ground turmeric. Put the rice in to a fine mesh sieve and wash thoroughly under running cold water.
When the water in both pots is boiling add half the rice to each pot. There is no need to measure it out and be totally exact. Stir both pots well and adjust the heat to achieve a low to moderate simmer for ten minutes.
Drain the non-spiced rice at your sink through a sieve and return it to the empty pot. Drain the turmeric rice in a similar way and return it to its own pot. It's vital at this stage that you allow both sets of rice to steam off for a few minutes and dry out. Fluff them up every minute to allow the steam to escape evenly. If you combine the different rices when they are wet, the liquid from the yellow rice will stain the white and they will become indistinguishable.
When the rice has stopped visibly steaming, pour the rice from one pot in to the other and add the grated garlic clove and half the shredded basil leaves. Combine with a fork by tossing and fluffing up the rice.
When the peppers come out of the oven, scatter the top of each one with a little cheese. You may wish to subsequently melt this under your broiler (overhead grill) but the residual heat will cause it to melt fairly quickly regardless.
Divide the rice between two heated serving plates, arranged as shown above to leave three empty spaces for the pepper halves.
Lift a red, green and yellow pepper half on to each plate with a spatula. Cut the tomato in half around the circumference by making cuts at alternate forty-five degree angles right through to the core. Pull apart and lay half a tomato, cut side up, as the centerpiece on each plate. Garnish with the last of the shredded basil leaves immediately before service.