Friday, June 20, 2014

Stuffed Peppers in a Slow Cooker

Some days, things just turn out right. I needed to buy some peppers to test a pepper-coring gadget that just arrived, and my husband suggested that I make stuffed peppers. Since the weather is much warmer, I didn't want to heat up the oven, so I decided to cook these in my slow cooker.

It sounded like a great idea, so I headed to the store for supplies. Since I wasn't working off of an actual recipe, I wasn't sure how much of anything I needed, but I figured that six bell peppers would be plenty. If I didn't have enough meat to stuff them, I always find good uses for peppers.

I grabbed a package of ground beef - there weren't too many size choices available - either giant packs or smaller ones. I grabbed a pack that was about 1 1/4 pounds.

When I got home, I gathered the rest of the goods. I had a small container of leftover cooked rice from another meal, so that went into a bowl with the ground beef, then I chopped half of an onion. It seemed like enough. I opened a can of petite diced tomatoes and added that to the beef, followed by about 1/2 of a jar of Goya sofrito. I knew I wanted the filling to be a loose rather than tightly packed. I added salt and pepper.

Pepper coring gadget. Say ahhhhh ...
After I cored the peppers and subjected a few of them to a photo shoot, I filled them with the meat mixture, and I had exactly enough to fill all six peppers to the top. Exactly. Nothing left over and no half-filled peppers.

How often does that happen?

Of course, if your peppers are larger or smaller, this might not fit as perfectly. But that's fine, too. When I have extra meat, I just mix it with the sauce that the peppers cook in. And if you're a little short ... oh well, one less pepper to fill.

When you're buying peppers, look for the ones with four lobes rather than three, and make sure they stand on their own. A fellow shopper at the grocery store must have thought I was a little nuts as I picked through the selection to find the ones that had sturdy bottoms, but I ended up with six peppers that stood tall.

I have a Ninja slow cooker, so all six peppers fit perfectly, and they should be fine in most oval-shaped cookers. If you've got a round cooker, check to see how many will fit - you might only have room for four.

Stuffed Peppers in the Slow Cooker

1 1/4 (ish) pounds ground beef
1 cup cooked rice
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 12-ounce jar Goya sofrito, divided
1/2 onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
Generous grinds black pepper
6 bell peppers

Combine the ground beef, rice, petite diced tomato, half of the sofrito (eyeball it), onion, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well. It will be much looser than a meatloaf mixture.

Core the peppers and rinse to remove the seeds. Save the pepper tops (remove the seeds/core) if you want to serve them with "lids" on top.

Fill the peppers with the meat mixture - just spoon it in. Put the tops on the peppers, if you're using them.

Arrange the peppers in your slow cooker and add the remaining sofrito, along with about 1/4 of the sofrito jar of water. You just need enough liquid in the bottom of the cooker so it doesn't dry out and burn. As the peppers cook, you'll get more liquid in the cooker, so you don't need to drown them.

I started my peppers on the stovetop setting, high heat, just to get things boiling and then I turned it down to the slow-cook high setting. They cooked for about 2 hours, but the timing is likely to be different in your slow cooker - some cooker hotter than others. To see if they're done, check the center of the pepper with a meat thermometer.

Serve the peppers with the sauce.