Sautee onions along with your spices.
Add passata or (canned) tomatoes, simmer covered for at least 15 min, remove the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks, and blend with immersion mixer.
One of these peppers is not like the other… If you choose not to eat meat, this is one of those rare Czech foods that can be easily made meatless. For the “regular” filling- and since this was for grandparents who like to keep things traditional- I’ve mixed mince, rice, parsley, egg, salt, pepper and garlic. But mint would be a nice addition, maybe fennel seeds, and any other flavours you enjoy. Leftover meat can be used to make meatballs.
In the meatless filling, I’ve used red lentils, sauteed mushrooms, parsley, chilli flakes, a bit of rice and some beaten egg to hold it all together. This is just what I had in the pantry, but really, any legumes, pulses, herbs work well.
Plněné papriky – Stuffed peppers
For the sauce
oil or butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 whole peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
½ tsp thyme
2 tsp ground ginger
1 small piece of lemon peel
½ clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
500 ml tomato passata or canned tomatoes
a splash of water
1 tbsp vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
For the peppers/filling
6 banana peppers
400-500 grams mince meat
1/2 cup cooked rice
2 tbsp parsley chopped
½ clove garlic pureed
salt and pepper to taste
1. Sautee chopped onions on butter or oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot.
2. Add spices along with sugar and keep sautéing until onions are glassy and golden.
3. Add flour and stir for a minute or so, and add passata or tomatoes. Cover and allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes, turning down heat if it’s bubbling too much.
4. Check the taste- if it’s too intense, add some water- not intense enough, add more of the spices according to taste. Add your garlic and salt and pepper to taste as well.
5. Remove the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves, and puree with immersion blender
6. Take another large pot and a sieve/strainer with smaller holes. Carefully, pour sauce through strainer into the second pot- unless of course you prefer a very thick, oniony sauce.
7. Prepare peppers: wash and cut off the very top- like a lid. Scoop out the seeds.
8. Take your mince, rice, parsley, garlic, egg, salt and pepper and mix well in a bowl.
9. Fill the empty peppers with mince filling (or with a meatless filling of your choice), and carefully submerge peppers into pot of sauce
10. Cook on medium/low heat for at least half an hour to cook the meat through and soften the peppers.
11. Add a spoonful of vinegar if the sauce lacks acidity and adjust any flavours by adding spices, or even sugar and salt to taste.
12. Serve with rice or dumplings.