Croatian Stuffed Capsicums
Traditional Croatian stuffed capsicums are called punjene paprike - pronounced “Pun-yeh-nah Pap-rika”. They are typically served with mashed potato. The delicious smokey flavour comes from the speck and smoked bacon bones. They are typically served during the summer and autumn months when capsicums are available. You can use red, green, or yellow capsicums, or use them all! Personally, I think red capsicums are the most delicious! Give it a go, we would love to know how you go. Enjoy!
The Peppers & Stuffing
• 8-10 medium-sized capsicums (you can use any colour although red is the best)
• 1 kg minced meat. ½ veal and ½ beef
• Pinch of salt
• Cracked pepper to taste
• 1 tablespoon of ground paprika or smoked paprika
• One cup of uncooked rice
• 1 egg
• Pinch of bicarbonate soda
• 2 cloves of fresh chopped garlic
• ½ cup of freshly chopped parsley
• 200g finely diced speck
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium onion finely diced
• 2 tablespoons plain flour
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 litres of stock
• Salt & pepper to taste
• 2 or 3 smoked bacon bones (ribs)
- Take the capsicums and carefully cut out the top and set aside. You will use this as a lid for the pepper later. Scoop out the seed and the white parts of the capsicum. Wash the peppers and allow them to dry on a paper towel while you make the stuffing
- To make the stuffing, add all the ingredients to a large bowl and use your hands to mix until combined. Make sure your bowl is big enough for you to be able to this as the mix may spill over the side.
- Fill the capsicums with the stuffing until they are almost full. Don’t over fill them as the rice expands during cooking as they will split.
- Arrange the stuffed capsicums in a large saucepan in one layer preferably, with just enough room for them to expand during cooking and just enough space between them so they don’t flip over on their side.
- Add 2 bay leaves and a stick of celery. These are just for flavour and are discarded when cooking is done.
- In a separate saucepan add the oil and the onion and fry until transparent on medium heat.
- Add the flour and fry until light brown, then add the tomato paste and 2 litres of stock and salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir continuously until it comes to the boil, the sauce will thicken a little. Then gently pour over the capsicums. There should be enough sauce to cover the capsicums, if not Just add a little more stock or water. Add the smoked bacon bones.
- Place the capsicums lids back on top of them.
- Shake the saucepan a little to make sure the sauce is evenly spread. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for approximately 2 hours. Shake the saucepan occasionally during cooking as this will help the sauce spread evenly and stop the capsicums from sticking. (This is a sliding turning action as if you are turning a steering wheel back and forth).
- Turn of the heat after 2 hours and allow to rest for a couple of hours as they taste much better. They taste even better when served the next day! Serve with mashed potato.