Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Beef-and-Rice-Stuffed Peppers with Chile-Cheese Sauce

I’ve stuffed a lot of peppers in my cooking life—various types of chiles filled with an assortment of ingredients and the usual tomato-based sauce either on top or spooned around the edges. Most versions make tasty dishes, whether you use ground beef, sausage, or poultry or go vegetarian with a mix of hearty sautéed vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant, squash, and so on.

This time, I opted to top the peppers with a cheese sauce instead of tomato, and spice it up a little with jalapenos—yes, more fat and calories than tomato-based, but you need only two to three tablespoons to dress the peppers. Small portions mean less guilt. The cheese sauce should have a creamy texture without being too stiff so that it pours well over the peppers. Think queso dip, only thinner.

This recipe is a mini celebration of the pepper, as each part of the dish features one: mild bell as the base, spicy jalapeno for the sauce, and just plain hot habanero in the filling. Chiles are beautiful things. But if you prefer your food on the milder side, you can easily adjust the heat in this dish by using only one habanero and one jalapeno, or skip the spice altogether and use some finely chopped poblanos or Anaheims.

Also check out Beef-and-Cheese-Stuffed Peppers with Tomatillo Salsa.

Serves 4


For the Stuffed Peppers
  • 2 large bell peppers (various colors, if desired), halved through the stem ends, seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling
  • 3/4 lb ground sirloin
  • 2 habanero chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large roma tomato, chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Peppers Ready to Boil
For the Sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Stuffed Peppers
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the bell pepper halves. Boil 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove and cool while the filling cooks.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the ground sirloin, chiles, and onion and cook 5 minutes, crumbling the beef into small pieces.
  4. Add the tomato, cilantro, and cooked rice and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes.
  5. Lightly oil an 8 X 8 baking dish and place the pepper halves in it cut-side up. Divide the beef-rice mixture and spoon into each pepper shell.
  6. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes.
Browned Beef, Chiles, and Onions
Cooked Beef-Rice Filling for the Peppers
Stuffed Peppers Ready to Bake
For the Sauce
  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the jalapenos and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the milk and gradually stir in the cheese a little at a time, stirring constantly to prevent clumping.
  3. Continue stirring until the cheese is completely melted and the texture is creamy, but not too thick. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm, covered, over low heat until ready to use.
Chile-Cheese Sauce
Beef-and-Rice-Stuffed Peppers with Chile-Cheese Sauce
To serve, place 1 stuffed pepper on each of 4 plates and spoon 2-3 tablespoons of cheese sauce over the top of each. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

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