Here’s another recipe from The Italian Slow Cooker but this time, I used a Dutch oven instead of the VitaClay or the slow cooker. Why? Well, they were too small to hold 5 bell peppers. The VitaClay only held 3 if I crammed them in there. The 5-quart slow cooker could only do one better. I also decided to cook them in the oven so I didn’t have to baby sit them on the stove. The recipe calls for 6 large bell peppers but I only needed 5. If you would like to have 6 peppers, cut the tops of the peppers further down, about 2 inches would work well.
The Mister loved this dish and took the leftovers for lunch. These are more filling than they look since we could only finish one each with a side of mashed potatoes. I thought the filling was good but didn’t care for the plain tomato puree. It could have used more seasoning or something, maybe a simple tomato sauce would have been more to my liking. But he loved it and since I picked this recipe out for him, mission accomplished.
According to Michele Scicolone, the author of the cookbook, slow cookers’ temperatures are anywhere between 180-200 degrees F on low and 250-300 degrees on high. I decided to go somewhere in between the high at 265 degrees F for 3 hours. I think the temperature or the time was a bit off because the peppers were a bit overcooked and would have collapsed on themselves if it weren’t for the stuffing. I prefer the peppers to still have a bit of form. This recipe can certainly be done on the stove too. The changes I would make next time would be to substitute the tomato puree with the simple tomato sauce or maybe even a store bought marinara sauce, and of course check the peppers an hour earlier.
Adapted from The Italian Slow Cooker
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 oz pancetta, diced
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-reggiano
- 1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat parsley
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- 5-6 large red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
- 2 cups canned tomato puree
- 6-8 cremini mushrooms (can substitute for white button mushrooms)
In a large skillet, add pancetta and cook until brown. Remove pancetta and set aside, leaving as much of the fat in the pan as possible.
Add oil to pan and heat on medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft and brown, about 5-8 minutes.
Add ground beef. Salt and pepper to taske. Cook beef, breaking up chunks, until the meat is no longer pink. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Cook until the wine has evaporated. There will still be some liquid in the pan. Remove pan from heat and let meat mixture cool a bit. Add cooked pancetta, cheese, parsley and bread crumbs, stir to combine.
Cut the tops off the peppers and remove insides stems and seeds. Loosely stuff the peppers with the beef mixture. Replace the tops. Pour the tomato puree into the slow cooker, VitaClay or a Dutch oven (at least 5-quart size). Arrange gthe peppers in a single layer. Add the mushrooms.
Slow cooker cooking instructions: Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5 hours, or until the peppers are tender when pierced with a knife. Check at the 2-hr / 4-hr mark to make sure the peppers don’t over cook.
Dutch oven cooking instructions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours, or until the peppers are tender when pierced with a knife. Check at the 2-hr mark to make sure the peppers don’t over cook.
VitaClay cooking instructions: Cover and cook on “slow cooker” mode. Cook for 2 hours, or until the peppers are tender when pierced with a knife.
Stove top cooking instructions: Cover and cook on medium-low for 2-3 hours, or until the peppers are tender when pierced with a knife.