Eggplant and Beef Stuffed Bell Peppers
1 large eggplant, about 1 pound
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups chopped onions
¼ cup chopped red bell peppers
¼ cup chopped yellow bell peppers
¼ cup chopped green bell peppers
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Chef Paul Prudhomme's Barbecue Magic, in all
5 ounces tomato paste
4 whole bell peppers (any color), about 8 ounces each, for stuffing
1 pound ground sirloin
2 cups chicken (or beef) stock
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
vegetable oil for brushing
how to prepare
Rub the eggplant on all sides with the vegetable oil.
Place a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat until it is very hot. Place the oiled eggplant in the skillet and cook, turning the eggplant with tongs every few minutes, until it is heavily charred on all sides and the flesh is soft and mushy, about 15 to 20 minutes. (The time to do this depends very much on the heat of the skillet and the size of the eggplant, so watch the eggplant and not the clock!) Remove the eggplant from the skillet; put it on a small plate or sheet pan and place in the refrigerator until cooled to room temperature. Remove all the skin from the eggplant, cut off and discard the top, and cut the flesh into ½-inch dice. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet, preferably nonstick, over high heat until the oil is hot, about 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom occasionally, until the eggplant is beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the red, yellow and green bell peppers and the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bell peppers turn a bright color, about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the Barbecue Magic.
Continue to cook, stirring and checking the bottom of the skillet for sticking, until the seasoning darkens slightly, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, scraping the bottom occasionally, until the mixture has darkened 2 shades to a brick red color and is thick and pasty, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape the bottom of the skillet thoroughly. Spread the mixture on a small sheet pan or large plate and chill in the refrigerator. You should have about 2 cups of the cooked eggplant mixture.
While the mixture is cooling, cut the tops off the four bell peppers. Remove the seeds and cut a very thin slice off the bottom of each bell pepper so that it will stand upright. Brush the peppers with a little vegetable oil and season the inside of each pepper with ½ teaspoon of Barbecue Magic. Set aside. When the mixture is cold, divide it in two and place half of the mixture in a mixing bowl together with the ground sirloin and the remaining 2 teaspoons of the Barbecue Magic. Mix gently until combined. (Do not overmix, or the meat will become rubbery.) You should have about 3 cups of the meat mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Fill each pepper with ¼ of the meat mixture (about ¾ cup each). Place the stuffed peppers on a baking pan and place in the oven. Bake until the tops are golden brown and the temperature in the center of the meat is 150°, about 45 minutes.
While the stuffed peppers are baking, prepare the sauce. Combine the remaining cooked eggplant mixture (about 1 cup) and the stock in a 10-inch skillet, preferably nonstick, over high heat. Bring to a full boil, whisking constantly until the ingredients are well mixed. Whisk in the tomato sauce and return to a full boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, whisking frequently, until the sauce is thick, about 6 minutes. Makes about 3 cups.
Serve 1 stuffed bell pepper per person, accompanied by ¾ cup of the sauce.
Copyright © 2004 by Paul Prudhomme