I remember thinking that colored bell peppers were pricy living in New York at a few dollars per pound, but after moving to Japan, I was shocked to see them selling for $4 each! When I saw them on sale the other day for about a dollar apiece I couldn’t help but buy all that was left. Of course it wasn’t until I got home with my haul that I started to wonder what I was going to do with all these peppers.
The first thing to come to mind was to make stuffed peppers, but in my experience stuffed peppers look far nicer than they taste. As with most stuffed vegetable dishes, the pepper is just an attractive container to serve what’s inside. Given how expensive these little guys are, I wanted to create a dish that would do them right, making them the star of the dish rather than a mere afterthought.
With thoughts of savory paella de pollo and sweet roast peppers bouncing around my head, I decided to stuff my peppers with chicken and rice. I marinated the chicken with lots of garlic and smoked paprika before pan-frying them to a perfect golden brown. Then I used the same pan to sauté onions and bell peppers before adding the rice and stock to make a rich, risotto-like saffron rice. Mixed back together, I stuffed the chicken and rice into bell peppers that were coated in olive oil, salt and pepper. These went in the oven until the peppers were practically melting into the chicken and rice.
The results were good, as in this-could-be-one-of-my-best-dishes-of-2015 good! The savory rice and smoky chicken are a match made in heaven, and together they make the perfect compliment to the sweet and mildly tangy roast pepper. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine having a bite of one without the other.
When you’re buying the bell peppers for this dish, be sure to look for ones that will sit upright on a flat surface. Also, when you cut the tops off to make the cups, you want to try and cut as close to the top as possible without making the lid fall apart. I learned the hard way with one pepper that wouldn’t stand up, and another one with a lid that fell apart.
Roasted Stuffed Peppers with Chicken and Rice
- 6.4 ounces (180 grams) chicken, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- .25 ounces (7 grams, or about 1 large clove) garlic, grated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 medium red and yellow bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2.3 ounces (65 grams, or about 1/2 small onion) onion, finely chopped
- 1.6 ounces (45 grams, or about 1/2 small pepper) green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 cup short grain rice
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- Combine the chicken, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a bowl, and stir to combine. Let the chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes.
- Prepare the pepper cups by cutting the tops off of them. Try and make the cups as deep as possible, but make sure you leave enough pepper on top so that the lid does not fall apart. Scrape out the seeds and membranes with a spoon.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the pepper cups and lids, and rub with your fingers to coat evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degres F (175 C).
- Heat a frying pan over medium high heat until hot, and then add the marinated chicken. Brown the chicken on one side, and then flip and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.
- Add the onions and chopped green bell peppers, and sauté until tender and caramelized, adding more oil if needed.
- Add the rice, and stir until the rice absorbs some oil and becomes translucent.
- Add the chicken stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt and saffron, and cook, stirring constantly until the rice swells up and the mixture becomes thick enough that you can leave a streak behind by running a spatula across the pan.
- Turn off the heat, and stir in the reserved chicken.
- Stuff the peppers with the chicken and rice mixture, and affix the lids.
- Bake the peppers until they are tender (about 30-40 minutes).
Yield: 4 stuffed peppers
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.