Stuffed Bell Peppers with Picadillo ~ these colorful bell peppers stuffed with a spiced ground beef, and topped with creamy queso fresco cheese are a Mexican classic that pleases the whole family.
If you eat with your eyes first like I do, then this dish is for you. The supermarkets are full of beautiful bell peppers these days, it seems like they get more colorful every year. They’re nice and big, too, and perfect for stuffing. The trick is to choose peppers of a similar size that have balanced shapes so they’ll stand up nicely in a pan. If you can find a variety of bright colors, so much the better.
Stuffed peppers is an old favorite, and I haven’t made them in years. The pitfalls are obvious…you can end up with waterlogged, mushy peppers filled with lackluster stuffing. I have to say, these blew me away. The peppers were firm and kept their color, and I loved the diced potatoes in the picadillo in place of the more common rice.
The technique of scorching the sides of the peppers in a hot pan before baking was fantastic. It not only gave the peppers a really cool look, it gave a smokey, fire roasted taste to the finished dish. I’m definitely using that technique from now on.
Ironically I think the only quibble I had with this recipe was that I wish there were more of a Mexican feel to the stuffing. It was an easy fix — I added cumin seeds, chile powder, and a diced poblano pepper to the picadillo. I absolutely loved it.
I found that I had enough filling for 4 peppers. I also did not find it necessary to do the extra step of blanching the peppers first, they cooked to a perfectly tender but not mushy texture with just the 30 minutes in the oven.
*This recipe is from Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor
- 3 bell peppers (your choice of color)
- 1 batch picadillo (recipe follows)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
- cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- 1 poblano chili, diced
- 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 Tablespoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped roma tomatoes
- 1 small russet potato, peeled and finely chopped
- Set oven to 350F
- To make picadillo: In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 2 minutes, until translucent.
- Add ground beef and brown, Using a potato masher, mash meat so you have small pieces of meat with no big chunks. Drain off excess grease.
- Add garlic, salt, tomatoes, and potatoes and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are done. Salt to taste.
- To make the stuffed peppers: Rinse the peppers, Cut the tops off and remove the white flesh and seeds. Rinse out the inside of each pepper.
- In a large stockpot parboil the peppers, about 3-5 minutes, depending on how soft you want them to be in the final dish. Remove the peppers and drain any excess water that is inside them.
- Brush each pepper with olive oil. Heat up a comal (or griddle) and place the peppers on their side on the comal, about 1 minute on each side, just long enough to sear the sides of each pepper.
- Prepare a baking dish (about 10.5 inches by 7 inches) that will accommodate your 3 peppers. Spray the dish with cooking spray to keep the peppers from sticking to it. Pour about 1/4 inch water into pan.
- Stuff each pepper with some picadillo and place it in the baking dish. Cover with foil and crimp the edges onto the dish creating a seal. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes. Plate 1 pepper per plate, top with crumbled queso fresco (or feta), and garish with cilantro.