Having gall stones sucks major ass. It puts you on a virtually no fat diet, which is practically impossible. I track everything I put into my mouth. It sometimes makes comfort food completely out of reach.
I wouldn’t have thought of stuffed peppers as comfort food when I was a kid. Truthfully, when I was a kid, I ate the filling, not the peppers. I’ve come around on the peppers (although I will probably never come around on cabbage. You can use this filling for stuffed cabbage as well, but I never would. My sister would and has, but it’s a world of no for me). But Steve loves stuffed peppers. I make them much differently than the way he’s used to (he apparently ate them with cheese? Is that a real thing? Because, again, no.), but he’s kind enough to eat my version and not complain (he will also sprinkle cheese on his when I’m not looking).
My sister and I both agree that we remember the sauce as being much sweeter when we were kids, almost like a sweet and sour sauce, but my mother swears up and down that she never used anything but what’s listed below and doesn’t know why we remember it like that. Next time I see one of my uncles, I’ll ask them what they remember about their mother’s version. Because of course this is a Hungarian version. Comfort food doesn’t have to be deliciously fattening to be tasty; sometimes it can just be something you remember your mom making.
This is a lightened up version (I used ground turkey instead of ground sirloin, but you could absolutely use ground sirloin) of comfort food. Like I said, I live on a mostly low fat diet these days and will until I get the stupid gall bladder out.
This is a multi step recipe, so make sure you have plenty of room on your counter and stove to do this as in sync as possible. I made the rice while the peppers boiled, then did the onions and meat while the rice and peppers cooled. My kitchen’s a mess right now and my counters are crowded, so I ran out of room to do all this, but you’re probably better organized than I am.
I am including a picture of true sweet Hungarian paprika. Please, please do not use smoked paprika with this recipe. Smoked paprika will completely change the flavor. If you can get really good quality, sweet Hungarian paprika I recommend it. I will never forget the look of horror on my sister’s or mother’s faces when they realized I had bought generic paprika (it wasn’t even labeled sweet!) when I got my first apartment (of course the extent of my culinary skills back then was Kraft macaroni and cheese). I actually can’t find this paprika at my grocery store, so my mom buys it for me where she is when I run out. That’s comfort food, right there.
- 6 red and green bell peppers, tops removed, seeds and ribs scraped out (save the tops for snacking). They should be able to stand up in a casserole pan/dish
- 1 cup uncooked white rice, cooked to package directions
- 1 lb ground sirloin or turkey
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced small
- 1 large (28 oz can) Hunt’s tomato sauce (do yourself a favor. Don’t skimp and get the generic. There really is a difference in the flavor. I’ve made it with both and I vastly prefer the Hunt’s version)
- sweet Paprika
- cider vinegar
- Sour cream, for serving
Bring a large pot of water to boil, with a splash of cider vinegar. Once water is boiling, add peppers and cook for six minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
Saute the onions until soft and golden, but not browned. Remove from pan and saute meat until no longer pink. In a large mixing bowl, combine meat, onions, and rice. Add enough paprika until you get the color you want (mine’s pretty red as you can see).
Spread some of the Hunt’s sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Stuff peppers with filling and stand up in the dish. Pour remaining sauce over the stuffed peppers. I had a lot of left over stuffing, but it’s great to eat with some sauce over it.
Bake in a 350 oven for 45 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top (use full fat – the light doesn’t taste right with this).
What’s your favorite version of comfort food?