Picadillo Stuffed Pepper Casserole

 

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I love Poblano peppers, and they are especially good stuffed with Picadillo!  I developed this amazing dish after tasting something similar in a Mexican restaurant while visiting Branson, Missouri. The main ingredient is the Picadillo used to stuff the peppers.

Picadillo is a traditional dish from Spain that has many variations throughout Latin America and Cuba. It’s basically a ground beef hash that’s made with tomatoes, peppers, and other ingredients that vary by region.  My recipe more closely follows the Cuban variations that I found.  Don’t be scared of adding cinnamon and cloves – they really add a nice flavor to the dish.

I used Poblanos for this dish, but you could stuff any pepper with this filling and it would taste great!  For this recipe I roasted Poblano peppers and stuffed them with the Picadillo and cheese, then  baked them in the oven with a spicy tomato sauce on top.

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The Picadillo can be eaten separately without stuffing into the peppers. Try serving it over white rice, or potatoes, and add sour cream or greek yogurt on the side.  You could also add diced potatoes during the cooking process for a stew; serve over your eggs for breakfast; or add black beans and make burritos or tacos.

The ingredient list seems long, but this is really very easy to put together.  Also the sauce is yummy and simple to make too – just put the ingredients into the blender and process.  I made this casserole over a two day period where I made the Picadillo one day, then roasted the peppers and stuffed them the next.

Picadillo Recipe:

1 pounds ground beef or pork
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 bay leaves
1 large can diced tomatoes in juice
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup sliced drained pimiento-stuffed green olives (from 5-ounce jar)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 or 2 jalapenos, chopped
1/2 cup beef stock
1 small can tomato sauce
1/2 can of tomato paste
Salt & pepper, to taste

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers and garlic and sauté until onion and peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. Add beef and sauté until browned, breaking up with large spoon. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer until the liquid reduces, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves before stuffing.

Poblano Peppers:

  • 6 large fresh polbano peppers – roasted, seeded and stemmed
  • 1 1/2 cups Oaxaca or other Mexican cheese – shredded

Sauce:

  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes – undrained
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 jalepeno, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Roasting Peppers – Preheat broiler. Pierce each chile pepper with a knife. Place peppers evenly in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet then place under broiler and broil till the skin blisters and turns black. Turn the peppers after 3 to 5 minutes to blister all sides evenly. When done, the pepper skins should be evenly blistered and mostly black.

Place the roasted peppers in a paper bag or heavy plastic container with a lid (plastic bags melt!), and close to lock in the moisture. When the peppers cool, peel off blackened skin.
Slit pepper in half lengthwise, careful not to cut the pepper in half, you want to create a pocket for stuffing. Pull out the seeds and leave the stem on.

The Sauce – In a blender, combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and salt. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour 1/2 of the sauce into a 3-quart rectangular baking dish.  I lined mine with non-stick foil to ease with clean-up.

Assembly – Stuff each poblano half with about ½ cup of Picadillo mixture and some shredded cheese. Place filled poblanos on top of the sauce in baking dish.  Spread remainder of the sauce on top and sprinkle cheese over each pepper. Bake for about 1/2 hour till cheese is melted and bubbly.

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