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Stuffed Peppers: do you brown the meat before making yours?

I was thinking about making stuffed red peppers for dinner. Just to check the proper amount of meat vs rice to cook, I looked at some recipes online. Most of them call for browning the meat before mixing it with the rice. My mother made these all the time when I was growing up, but I never remember her browning the meat. Stuffed peppers are not the type of thing I normally make (but we have 27 inches of snow here today, so I thought it was a good comfort food to make!). Do you brown your meat before stuffing the peppers, or have any good recipe suggestions? TIA

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  1. Yes, brown the meat, unless you don't mind the finished product being swimming in grease

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cherylptw


      As an aside, I cut my peppers in half from top to bottom and stuff each half. Get lots more of the "good stuff" that way.

    2. I agree on browning the meat first. I'll also add that I often brown the meat the day before. I then drain the meat, reserving the juices separately, and refrigerating both. The next day, I separate the fat off the juices, easy since it's hard after refrigerating, and use the juiced to cook the starch component of the stuffing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: danieljdwyer

        Now isn't that a good idea? Add flavor and no waste. win-win. Thanks, djd.

      2. I make stuffed peppers with orange bell peppers and I brown the meat..drain the grease and saute garlic, mushrooms and onions and then mix with some brown rice and top with tomt paste..I like to serve it with homemade mac n'cheese but the box will do..delicious!
        27 inches of snow...yikes!

        1. Nope - I never brown the meet. You dont' have to....it will come out fine if you don't. Add some partially cooked rice and your favorite spaghetti sauce. Stuff your peppers. Top with more sauce and bake with some Mozz. I'd give them an hour at 350. Enjoy your snow! I am jealous.

          2 Replies
          1. re: momskitchen

            You use spaghetti sauce? Like a meat sauce? I usually put a Mexican slant on with chorizo, no rice and other yummy things. It would never have occurred to me to use spaghetti sauce. Perhaps a seasoned tomato sauce (I love the Hazan one with tomatoes onion and butter.) Your sounds very interesting and that's great that it's not greasy. we learn.

            1. re: c oliver

              Any kind of spaghetti sauce works....hope you like it!

          2. I stuff peppers with raw ground meat and raw rice. No browing needed and no greese problem

            1. I have beenmaking Mom's stuffed peppers and cabbage for 10 years, but I never browned the meat. Make it like meatballs, then have steamed peppers and cabbage ready to stuff. It works and there is a minimal amount of grease...

              1 Reply
              1. re: breakfastfan

                So you steam the peppers first? And how do you "cook" it then? Do you cook it in a short enough period of time or in some manner that it's necessary to precook the peppers? Such a simple dish is opening windows for me :)

              2. I'm also in the no-brown school, I use ground round and cooked rice with a little tomato sauce for juiciness. Season the filling well and stuff the raw peppers; I cut off the pepper tops, stuff the whole peppers and use the tops as little hats when I serve them. I make my stuffed cabbage the same way, raw ground beef with rice and seasoning, stuff into steamed cabbage leaves, cover with tomato sauce mixed with cream and bake. Never had a beef fat problem.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  I forgot to mention that I prefer red peppers over green peppers for stuffing; the flavor is better and no bad cooked green color.

                2. As long as the meat has enough salt/seasoning you can start raw. The amount of grease would of course depend on how fatty the meat is.

                  1. I'm in the brown first school (and par cook the rice). But it really depends on how you like your peppers. If you fill them with raw meat and uncooked rice, by the time the insides are cooked the peppers will be very soft (some would say overcooked or mushy). If you want the peppers to have a bit more texture, cook the stuffing ingredients first. It's a matter of taste and you might need to try a few variations.

                    1. I stuff my bell peppers (green ones) with a meatloaf-like mixture of raw ground beef (low fat content), crushed saltine crackers, raw eggs, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, Worchestershire sauce, a little bit of oregano, salt and pepper. I don't use rice at all though you certainly can. I just prefer mine without. I moosh it all together and then stuff the pepper halves (cut from top to bottom and seeds and membrane removed) with the mixture and bake as usual. You can top with tomoato paste or cheese (I prefer sliced cheddar cheese and pop back in the oven until the cheese is melted and starting to brown just slightly). Using the low fat content ground beef prevents the grease problem and is better for you too.

                      1. My Mother was an uninspired cook. But maybe from her time in Santo Domingo as a child of diplomats she learned to use peppers one way.
                        Cut the tops off. Stuff with hamburger meat. Simmer in a baking dish, upright for an hour.
                        The peppers became (to me, a picky eater) inedible because they became mush. But the flavor imparted to the meat was simply wonderful. The entire mass of hamburger took on a flavor that I didn't know was possible.
                        Not that you have to do it this way, but you might want to try one, just to see if the flavor hits a note with you (or your picky eaters).

                        1. My grandmother made these, and did not brown the meat--it was like a mini-meatloaf inside. You could remove the bottom of the pepper to allow for drainage ... or just make your mixture quite lean (as with ground bison).

                          1. Do not brown the meat. Mix in flavorings, place in crockpot and top with tomato soup. Old school, but really good.

                            1. I would NEVER brown the meat for stuffed peppers. I do use fairly lean meat, usually a mix of beef and pork (which most of the time I'll grind at home, tring to keep the fat content at around 10%) and it is stuffed into the peppers (or rolled into cabbage leaves) raw mixed with uncooked rice (I like to use brown rice...grandma used white rice) and various seasonings as per family traditions (including salt, pepper,Hungarian paprika, and caramelized onion), and then braise it in a tomato based sauce (with a touch of vinegar and a healthy dose of sweet paprika added).
                              It never comes out greasy, not at all. The rice cooks absorbing some juices from the meat, and the result is great.

                              I've had stuffed peppers made with browned meat and didn't much care for it... it is not nearly as good flavor-wise and especially texture-wise.

                              1. I'm gonna assume that most of the contributors here are women, who don't get it! (Sorry bout that, sisters!) The thing is, to brown-first or not to brown-first is not simply a question of the best taste (culinary sense), but can also be a question of practicality, ESPECIALLY IF ONE WISHES TO FREEZE THE ITEM!

                                I have hitherto always stuffed them raw, but if I freeze them like that, then I have to thaw them to mush, or the skins will burn before the innards have come even close to cookin'!

                                I'm gonna give brown-first a whirl, and when I eat them (I usually have them with a spicy tomato sauce anyway, maybe some pasta on the side... yes, even with the rice & ground beef stuffing... so some of the flavor gets masked anyway, and as another contributor pointed out, the bell peppers themselves impart a heavenly flavor!), I'll come back here and let yous know!

                                I kowtow to no (wo)man! : -)

                                1. do you boil pepper before you stuff???

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. I just saw this recipe for Stuffed Peppers the other day and I have to share it. The recipe by Kraft is from 1931 for Peppers stuffed with Macaroni and Cheese. Here's a link to the recipe booklet showing a color illustration of the dish. A dish from the Depression (glad I didn't have to eat it.):

                                    Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Stuffed Bell Peppers from 1931