This is one of those evolving family recipes that has no written recipe — it is one that we just watch and learn, and then “do”, each with our own twist. My grandmother, who was of Hungarian/Austrian descent made them, so my mother made them, and now I make them. Of course, I don’t use a written recipe, so this is just a vague approximation…
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 ¼ teaspoon minced dried onion
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ to 2 cups parboiled rice, uncooked
- Green or red peppers, up to four
- 1 large tin tomato juice, organic, low-sodium
Wash peppers, then cut tops off, and hollow out, discarding the insides and the tops. If they will not stand up by themselves, slice of a tiny amount from the bottom, without cutting through to the inside. Set aside.
In a large bowl, gently mix together ground beef and ground pork with a fork. About half way through mixing together, add dried onion, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder, mix gently. Add rice, and mix in with hands – do not “mash” or the mixture will get tough.
Loosely fill each pepper with the meat and rice mixture, leaving a space of about ½” at the top. Leave any leftover mixture in the bowl. Place the stuffed peppers into a very large casserole dish that is stovetop-safe, so that they have plenty of room around each other, and about 2” or 3” above. Slowly pour the tomato juice into the casserole dish.
With the extra mixture left in the bowl, create meatballs approximately 1 ½ Tablespoon in size, and drop into the tomato juice in the casserole. Give the casserole a very gentle stir to make sure that nothing is sticking. Add some water to the casserole so that the meatballs are well covered, and “floating”; the peppers need to have only about ½” above the liquid. With a spoon, scoop up some liquid, and fill each pepper with it. The rice will need to absorb this liquid to cook properly.
Set onto a stovetop, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so that the tomato juice comes to a simmer, and put the lid on. “Cook until done”! This will take at least a couple of hours. During the cooking time, it is necessary to give the peppers and meatballs a gentle stir a few times, and to “refill” the peppers with liquid. It also might be necessary to add more liquid – either tomato juice or water – to the casserole.
My mom adds carrots to this dish, but the combination of carrots and tomato juice is not one that I’m fond of 😉 .