Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Mexican" Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

I'll be honest. There was no way to plate this one prettily. And I bet that any person of Mexican heritage would probably hate me for calling this a Mexican dish, hence the quotation marks. But I will tell you that it's good, and when your vegetable delivery includes several large cubanelle peppers, it's time to get creative. This is a surprisingly filling dish, and pairs nicely with either a tomato, avocado & feta saladblack bean and corn salad, or some tortilla chips and guacamole.

Total Prep Time: 30-40 minutes

Total Cook Time: 10-20 minutes

What you will need:

3/4 lb of ground turkey meat (in my grocery store, this only comes in packages of approximately 1.3 lbs--I used the remainder of the meat to make a small batch of spaghetti sauce at the same time I cooked this dish)
3-4 cubanelle peppers (if you are in a part of the country where they have them fresh, poblanos work too)
1/2 cup uncooked rice (you can use brown or white)
1/4 white or yellow onion
1/2 tbsp of olive oil (not pictured)
garlic salt
Enchilada Sauce (I used a packaged sauce that was very low cal/low sodium and it wasn't bad)
Four cheese mexican blend shredded cheese
1 lime
a handful of chopped cilantro

Preheat your oven to 400.

First step: start cooking your rice. The general rule of thumb with rice is that you want to add two parts water for 1 part rice. So if you have 1/2 cup rice, then you will cook it with 1 cup of water. Make sure you rinse the rice first in cold water--it makes a world of difference in the texture of your rice after it's done cooking. I throw some margarine in with my rice as well, just a small bit, which helps prevent it from sticking. Rice is low maintenance--pretty much put it in the pot and leave it well enough alone.

Next up, dice your onion. You will only want to use about 1/4 of a yellow or white onion. Then, heat your olive oil in a medium skillet (10 or 12 inches) on a medium high heat. Sautee your onions for a few minutes, until they become translucent.

Next step will be to cook up your ground meat. I buy the 43% fat ground turkey meat. Put it in the same skillet as your onions are cooking, and use a wooden spatula to break it up into very small pieces as it cooks. You do not want huge chunks of meat here. Add in a few good shakes of cumin and garlic salt to season the meat as it cooks.

While the meat is cooking, turn your attention back to the peppers. You will want to halve them length-wise, and de-seed/vein them.

Turn your attention back to the stove. By now your meat should have cooked, and there may be some fat which has liquefied in the pan. Drain off the excess fat in the sink, but do not dump all of the meat into a colander to do so, as we are going to continue to use the skillet. Just tip it if possible and try and get as much of the fat out of the pan as possible.

Reduce the heat on the stove to medium, and add in your rice. Mix the rice, meat and onions together, adding additional seasoning if you find it needs a bit more taste. Let these flavors meld together on a low heat. Add in a small bunch of chopped cilantro if you like the taste of cilantro. You can also add a pinch of your cheese blend here to make the rice a bit ooey gooey.

Place the halved cubanelles into a glass baking dish. They should be snug.

Spoon the meat and rice mixture into the cubanelles. Try and fill them as much as possible, using a spoon to press down a bit to get the mixture down into the deeper parts of the pepper. 

Pour your enchilada sauce over the peppers, and top generously with mexican blend cheese.

Place in your 400 degree oven, and let it bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and the sauce is slightly bubbling. Then, flip the broiler on and watch it until the cheese starts to brown. Then, serve and enjoy!!!

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