Pimientos Rellenos (Stuffed Peppers)

In the Jewish Calendar, this week commemorates the beginning of the holiday known as Sukkot. This is the harvest festival that follows the solemn holiday of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. Among the traditional foods served on this occasion are stuffed vegetables. It is noted that stuffed foods represent a bountiful harvest. Think of a cornucopia of veggies and fruit. Thus, in celebration, I'm putting out my pimientos rellenos recipe from my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Perseus Books Group---Running Press). So, my Jewish friends and colleagues, liven up the occasion with stuffed peppers Puerto Rican style. And for those of you who are not Jewish, it's still a great dish to enjoy anytime.

Let me add that the recipe calls for shredded cheddar cheese on top. You can either omit or add it to the mix.

     (Stuffed Peppers)

4 medium green or red bell peppers
6 whole black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 medium tomatoes, cored and diced
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Slice the top off the peppers. Remove and discard the seeds and white veins.
3. Drop peppers into boiling water to cover and boil for 3 minutes. Remove, drain and set aside.
4. In a mortar, crush peppercorns, garlic, oregano and salt. Blend in olive oil and vinegar.
5. In a bowl, combine meat with seasoning.
6. Brown meat in a very hot skillet (no extra oil is necessary).
7. Add onion, bread crumbs, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.
8. Stuff the peppers with beef-tomato filling and place in a shallow baking dish. Top with shredded cheese, if desired, and bake 20-25 minutes.
    Yield: 4 servings.

photo: courtesy of Andicakes
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