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Stuffed peppers (Ajíes Rellenos)

These peppers, stuffed with ground beef, panceta and cream, are a fancy and always appreciated argentinian classic dish that use the ají peppers, peculiar to Argentina and South America; a comforting family dish you can make without having to invest too much effort.


Yield: 4-6 guests

* 3/4 cup rice
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 carrot, sliced
* 2 tablespoons chopped celery
* 6 red bell peppers, (Aji amarillo chilies, if you can find them), seeded
* 3/4 lb. of ground beef
* 1/2 lb. Panceta, or diced bacon
* 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (marinara sauce)
* 1/4 cup red wine
* 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 cup half-half (or 15%) cream

1) Preheat oven to 350 ˚F. In a medium saucepan, bring one and 1/2 cups of water to a boil; add rice and mix. Reduce heat, cover and cook the rice for 20 minutes, until rice is tender and cooked. Put aside.

2) Heat up one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat setting. Saute the carrot slices and the celery until tender. Add ground beef and bacon and cook until the meat is browned and cooked. Remove excess fat and put back on the stove. Pour the tomato sauce in, pour the red wine and sprinkle the paprika then simmer gently for 10 minutes. At this point pour the cream in, half the Parmesan cheese and all of the cooked rice. Cook for another 5 minutes or until most of liquids have been absorbed or evaporated.

3) Arrange the peppers on a baking dish then fill them with the meat filling preparation we just did. Drizzle the peppers with the remaining olive oil and top with Parmesan cheese.

4) Bake for 30 minutes, and serve while hot.

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