It was always this time of year when my Hungarian grandmother would set her enormous enameled pots on the table in her farmhouse kitchen. She’d pile dark green bell peppers, just picked from her large garden, in the deep kitchen sink. After a good rinse, the peppers got cut in half from stem end to blossom end. It didn’t take much time for my experienced grandmother to pull out the white membrane and seeds from each half pepper with a swipe of her fingers. With her strong hands, she mixed ground beef and pork, chopped onions and lots of paprika in a huge bowl.
“Come, Susie. Help stuff the peppers.” As a little girl, I loved pulling the stool my grandpa made up to the table so that I could reach the proper height to help my grandmother stuff the peppers.
It was that kind of happy experience with my grandma that sparked and nurtured my love for cooking, baking and eating.
I carry on the stuffed pepper tradition that was imprinted in me by my Hungarian grandmother and my Hungarian mom. When I prepare a large batch, I mix some ground pork into the meat stuffing. But for just 3 peppers, I use only a pound of ground beef.
For some reason, the ones I make just never taste quite as good as the ones prepared by my grandma and my mom.
But, still, they are a delectable meal that bring comfort and sweet memories.
You’ll find my recipe for untraditional, unstuffed peppers in my column this week. Click here to get that recipe.
Hungarian Stuffed Peppers
- 3 green bell peppers
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/3 cup uncooked rice
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 (46-ounce) bottle tomato juice
- Flour for coating meat mixture in peppers
- Shortening, paprika and flour to thicken gravy
Wash green peppers. Cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds and white membrane from each half. Set aside.
In large bowl, mix ground beef, rice, onion, egg, paprika and salt. Firmly pack meat mixture into pepper halves. Dip all exposed meat in flour. Place stuffed peppers in pot. Pour in tomato juice. Peppers should be completely immersed in juice. Cover pot and bring juice to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until rice is cooked. Can also form balls of meat mixture, roll in flour and immerse in juice. People who don’t care for green peppers will appreciate the meatballs.
To thicken gravy, melt 2 or 3 tablespoons of shortening in a small pan. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion. Cook until onion is soft. Add enough paprika (about 1 tablespoon) to make mixture in pan red. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of flour. Cook and stir. Don’t let mixture get too thick. Remove pepper pot from heat. Stir in flour-paprika mixture. Return pot to heat and simmer just until gravy thickens, stirring often. Makes 6 stuffed pepper halves.