Plnené Papriky – Stuffed Peppers

Who doesn’t like stuffed peppers? This is a Slovak dish borrowed from Hungary. It’s one of my favorites and one of the easiest dishes you will ever make. It makes great leftovers.  This one is adapted from a book I like to use. It’s a great resource for Slovak cooking but is keyed to the English market and some of the ingredients are hard to find in the U.S. This recipe is for 4 servings.


You will need:

1-2 peppers per person (see note on peppers)
1 yellow onion
3 Tbsp. oil
1 – 1.5 lbs. ground pork (see note on pork)
1 1/2 cups white rice
2 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. paprika (I add 2)
14 oz. tomato paste (alternatively 1.5 pounds fresh pureed tomatoes and subtract 3 cups water later)
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 bay leaves (or 1 tsp. crushed)
1 tsp. marjoram
salt and ground black pepper

Serve with Dumplings, sliced rye bread, or boiled potatoes, and side salad.

Disclaimer: I wrote and tested this recipe at an elevation of 500 ft. I tried it again at 5,300 ft. at it was a disaster. If cooking at a higher elevation, use 1/2 cup less rice and cook an extra 20 mins.

Choosing Peppers – Have you ever seen large Anaheim peppers? You only need one pepper of that size per person.  However, smaller peppers will be easier to serve and will offer more pepper flavor. Anaheims are probably the most readily available peppers in the U.S., but Hungarian wax peppers are probably the best. I know for a fact that Hy-Vee will special order wax peppers upon request for a very reasonable price. Either way, choose a pepper according to your taste. On a 1-10 scale of spiciness, the wax peppers do not even register, as they have lots of flavor but no spice. Anaheims would be a 3-4. Jalapenos would be a 7. Serranos are about 9, and habaneros at 10. Having been raised in San Antonio, TX, I prefer my dish has at least 1-2 stuffed jalapenos in the mix to add a little kick to the dish while still remaining true to the Slovak and Hungarian style.

Choosing Ground Pork – the pork will not be drained in this cooking process.  Depending on your taste, that will not matter. I prefer leaner dishes, so find the lowest fat content possible because you will be ingesting all of it.

Cooking with Paprika – most Americans do not know this, but paprika is simply the Hungarian and Slovak word for a pepper. It is made of ground and dried Hungarian peppers. It’s true flavor is activated when added to a hot oil (such as bacon grease or cooking oil). Sometimes this causes an instant bubbling reaction in the pan and is no cause for alarm.

Cut off the tops of the peppers and remove seeds to the extent possible.

Fry the onion in 1 Tbsp. oil until golden.

In a bowl, mix pork, 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, cooked onion, rice, eggs, and breadcrumbs.

Stuff the peppers with the meat. Make meatballs with any leftover meat.

Add 2 Tbsp. oil and 2 Tbsp. flour to a 4-6 quart pot that you can cover. If you are using the same pan as the onion, please rinse first as this will get very hot and burn onion residue. Make a nice peanut butter colored roux, then add the paprika. Mix quickly, then add 4 cups water and 14 oz. tomato paste (or 1.5 lbs. fresh pureed tomatoes with one cup water). Add 1-2 tsp. salt and the powdered sugar.

Add bay leaves and marjoram, then boil sauce. Add peppers and meatballs, cooking on medium heat for 30 mins and simmering for 15. Add water if necessary to maintain similar sauce consistency as spaghetti sauce or marinara.

Plate with side or eat as a stand-alone dish. Great leftover.

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