This is an incredible dish that my mom's mom, Grandma Nettie, made. Grandma Nettie, was not the grandmother that really taught me had to cook but she did have her specialties. My mom remembers these peppers well. Although as she got older, Grandma Nettie did not cook as much so unfortunately, I am not so familiar with her specialties since I am the youngest grandchild in our family. I wish they were on paper. So her peppers were a traditional meat and rice stuffed pepper with a marinara sauce. Now my other Grandmother, Grandma Mae, she made an awesome stuffed pepper. This is what I remember growing up on. She did not make a traditional recipe. Hers had no sauce and was made with a meat, spinach & proscuitto mixture. So I decided to channel them both together and go with the more traditional ingredients but adding the flavors Grandma Mae loved. Let's bring them both together....as Grandma would say................ "IT'S ALL GOOD STUFF IN THERE......OF COURSE IT'S GONNA BE GOOD"
GRANDMA'S STUFFED PEPPERS
5 OR 6 WHOLE PEPPERS (I PREFER RED BUT YOU CAN CHOOSE ANY COLOR) 3 LBS GROUND BEEF (80/20 MIXTURE) 1 LARGE ONION 6 CLOVES OF GARLIC 1/2 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE 1 TBLSP GARLIC POWDER 1 TBLSP DRIED PARSLEY 6 SLICES OF PROSCUITTO 2 CUPS FRESH CHOPPED SPINACH 2 CUPS COOKED WHITE RICE 4-5 CUPS PREPARED MARINARA SAUCE BLACK PEPPER OLIVE OIL
This recipe will take a little preparation, but no worries, you can totally do this. Just follow step by step, it is very easy. You can put this together in your time on a Sunday, then just heat it up for an amazing weekday dinner....give it a try!!
Your oven will need to be preheated to 350 degrees!!
Start by preparing and steaming your peppers. Now there is some contraversary over presteaming them. Is it really necessary??? I prefer to, but that is just me. My partner, Lisa, says it is not necessary and just stuffs them raw. They will take just a bit longer in the oven but give both ways a try and let us know what you think!!!! But for today....I am steaming, HAHA!!
So grab your peppers. Cut the entire top off as shown and hollow out. Get them all into a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. Let them steam about 15 minutes until they are just beginning to soften. Do not overdo it or they will not hold up when you try to stuff them. So this is really just to get the process started.
You can also prepare your white rice as directed on the package. You will need 2 cups of cooked rice. . Now for the stuffing. Heat about 3 TBLSP Olive Oil in a large saute pan. Add your chopped onions. Give them a 5 minute head start and then add your chopped garlic. Let them slowly simmer until soft and tender. Season with pepper only. We always need to season each layer but in this recipe we will be getting plenty of salt from the proscuitto and cheese that we do not need to add extra here.
In a separate bowl, combine your meat with your garlic powder, parsley and cheese. Just give it a quick mix with your hand....
Now add it to the pan and allow it to cook through until browned. Remember it will continue to cook in the oven.
The next layer will be where Grandma Mae's flavors come in. She seemed to make soooo many dishes with spinach, proscuitto, garlic and onions. I remember chopping and chopping like it was yesterday. So next will be your proscuitto. Chop it all well and add it in......
At this point, you can turn off your heat...because next you will add your chopped spinach and that will wilt in seconds in the hot meat.
You are almost there......just drain the fat from the pan.....
Add the last pieces to this puzzle......the rice and 2 cups of the prepared Marinara Sauce.
Mix all together..........and you are done!!! Have you tasted it by now???? I could eat that whole pot........but let's grab our peppers and stuff them before we do.
So just fill them to the top, get them into an oven safe baking dish. I actually like to put them into my Dutch Oven but you can use any dish, as long as it is deep enough. Cover them with the last 2 cups of Marinara Sauce and bake them covered at 350 for about 40 minutes. Don't forget if you did not steam them first, they will need more time in the oven. I would say about an hour total.
So bake and enjoy....depending on the size of your pepper you may also need to adjust the cooking time. You can just poke it with a fork to make sure the pepper is softened. I had huge ones....they were quite a meal in themselves. But serve with a great piece of crusty Italian bread on the side...and maybe extra Marinara just in case.....WOW!!!! You are going to love these!!! I think channeling both my Grandmothers was the perfect result in these peppers. An amazing traditional dish with a new twist of flavor. Doesn't get any better than that!!!!! ENJOY!!!! ALL GOOD STUFF!!!!