Last week we had some special friends over for dinner. Some of the reasons they are so special to us are:
- They have gone out of their way to help us in many ways as we’ve settled into our new home. One of the major ways was helping my husband paint our kitchen cabinets. Actually, they were the ones who told him how to go about it, and took the time to show him by example.
- When we asked for their advice on how to mount a keepsake I’ve held on to from Bosnia, they offered to do it for us! So now after 6 1/2 years, my precious doorknocker has a home (see it below on that beautiful piece of wood)!
So in honor of my completed Bosnian wall collage (OK, so the bird print isn’t Bosnian… but I love it so I had to include it), I decided to make Bosnian stuffed peppers for our guests. Stuffed peppers are common throughout the Balkans, but I wanted to make some that were unique to the town I lived in – Travnik. So, I dusted off my Bosnian cookbook (and brushed up on my Bosnian language) and went to work!
Here’s the recipe, roughly translated:
2 lb. green bell peppers
1/2 c. diced onion (I omitted this since my husband can’t do onions)
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. rice, uncooked (I used jasmine rice)
1 – 2 Tbsp oil
some parsley (I used 1 tsp dried parsley)
1/2 – 1 c. heavy cream (I used sour cream instead)
2 c. milk
a little paprika
a little butter
a little black pepper
1. Cut tops off of the bell peppers, take out the seeds and wash them. Put them in a pot that will hold them snugly so they won’t tip over like so:
2. Mix together ground beef, onion, uncooked rice, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix in a little bit of oil to soften it a bit (but don’t over mix). Fill the peppers with this mixture, but don’t stuff them too full because the filling will expand while cooking. The recipe said to replace the tops of the peppers, but I chose to cover them with a slice of tomato instead.
3. Add some water, cover and cook. Yes, that’s exactly what the recipe said. Of course this was probably written to those experienced and expert Bosnian domacice, which I am not, so I added too much water and the sauce tasted, well… watery. I added around 3 cups of water, but in doing this again, I would only add like 1 cup of water to start and only add more if the peppers were starting to dry out or burn on the bottom.
4. When the peppers are cooked, mix together the cream (or sour cream) and milk, and pour over the peppers. Let it cook a little longer until the sauce thickens a bit. Then carefully serve peppers with the sauce, adding a bit of butter and dash of paprika to the tops. I skipped the butter and paprika.
When I had stuffed peppers in Bosnia, they were usually served with mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce, but because I wanted to make some other Bosnian fare, I served it with fresh bread which is also great for soaking up the sauce and is also a staple at Bosnian meals.
Though they didn’t turn out quite as good as authentic Travnicke Punjene Paprike, they certainly were a yummy reminder of my Eastern European home. :)