Monday, February 21, 2011

Stuffed Peppers ala Zorana (Serbian= Punjene paprike/ Пуњене паприке)

Ever since I moved to WA, I've been craving stuffed peppers. Since Svetlana is not around to make them for me, it was becoming obvious that I had no other option but to make them myself. So, here it is, I can finally challenge Svetlana's recipe.

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1lb ground beef (85/15)
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 5 red bell peppers
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • seasoning salt (ex. Vegeta) to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Preheat the oven to 450F.
Heat the oil in a pan and add cut up bacon pieces. When bacon starts to cook, add onion, garlic and carrot. Cook all together for a couple of minutes stirring often.

Add meat, bay leaves and seasoning. Stir the meat well to break up all the larger clumps. When the meat looks cooked, add rice. Mix together for a couple of minutes. While this is cooking, core the peppers.

Turn off the burner and stuff the peppers with the meat/ rice mix. Separate the bay leaves.

Close peppers with the tomato slices you cut out earlier.

Please the peppers in a oven safe deep dish. Cast iron baking dishes are especially good for this type of cooking.

De glaze the pan whit wine and water. Mix in the tomato paste. Once you made a homogeneous mixture, poor it into the cast iron dish over the peppers. Ideally, you want the sauce to cover about 1/2 - 2/3 of the peppers. Depending on the size and shape of your dish, you might need to add more water. If you have too much sauce, just cook it uncovered, and it will evaporate.

Cover the dish with the lid and bake for 1 hour at 450F. Then open the lid, pour some of the sauce into the peppers and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and bread.

Here is a link to Svetlana's stuffed peppers for comparison:


  1. Hi Z!

    I once again used your recipe to prepare some stuffed pepper. They are now happily baking in the oven.

    That said, I actually have some time to report a few bugs in the recipe. It's not exactly anything wrong with the recipe itself, rather with the way I read it, and possibly how others may read it.

    Here goes.

    The recipe text begins with "...heat the oil in a pan and add cut up bacon pieces."

    Wait, that means I should have cut the bacon up in pieces before I started? It would be good for the recipe to say what I need to do before I start cooking. So I can read and do, like on a checklist.

    "When meat look cooked, add rice. Mix together for a couple of minutes. While this is cooking, core the peppers". But, the meat and rice are almost done at this point; and I have yet to core the peppers. How much actual time do I have to core peppers now? Maybe it's better to do it beforehand? The recipe doesn't say.

    You should probably emphasize that one should not try to save time by stuffing peppers while the mix is still hot.

    Then it says: "when bacon starts to cook, add onion, garlic and carrot". Wait, that means I should have already cleaned and cut them?

    Then you say "separate the bay leaves". How do I do that, if they fall apart while mixing? Maybe a tip about bay leaf preservation and fishing would be useful.

    "Close peppers with the tomato slices you cut out earlier" Oh, I was supposed to cut out tomato slices earlier? Oops...

    "Please the peppers in a oven safe deep dish." I hope they were pleased. :)

    "Cast iron baking dishes are especially good..." Wait, I actually needed to have an iron baking dish all the while? Oh, shucks...

    "De glaze the pan whit wine and water." Ummm, what does it mean to 'de glaze'? I kind of figured out that it's basically 'washing' the pan using wine, water and tomato paste, but would be cool to mention it for those of us who (obviously) don't have a first clue about cooking.

    So there. It's how I saw the recipe. Note, as I said before, this is nothing to say about your recipe or approach. It's just a perspective of a person who is a cooking newbie (or even lower), and gets easily confused.

    On the other hand, adjusting the recipe to take into account the dumbasses like me who are trying to cook is what makes a difference between a good, and a great recipe. Making a good recipe seems to be more than just jotting down thoughts as they come.

    Keep up the good work. The hungry await more recipes.

    1. I could not fill all my answers in this reply field, so I posted them here:

  2. I made these peppers today and all I can say is THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!! The sight, smell, taste of the dish brought back fond memories of childhood for me :) It was like having mama with me in the kitchen!

  3. I made this delicious dish for my hubby (serbian grandparents and parents). He loved it! About to make it again. Simple, quick and man filling. Thanks. To the lady, who got lost in the recipe, just read anything through first. That applies to all written word.