Growing up, I ate my fair share of punjene paprike. Punjene Paprike are Croatian stuffed peppers. It is a customary Croatian dish usually served at get-togethers and special occasions along with sarma, cabbage rolls. We also like to make homemade sweets for special occasions like these Trogirski Rafioli.
Croatian Stuffed Peppers – Punjene Paprike
There are many different variations of this recipe and we even eliminate the rice to make a keto version of Croatian stuffed peppers. We usually serve the punjene parike with mashed potatoes, yes more carbs. Punjene paprike means more than one stuffed pepper. Punjena paprika means one stuffed pepper in Croatian.
Tips For Making Punjene Paprike – Croatian Stuffed Peppers
- Use a large pot. We usually use a large soup stock pot to cook our punjene paprike.
- Use a variety of pepper colors (red, green, yellow, and orange) when making the punjene parike. I am not a fan of green peppers but they do give the sauce so much flavor.
- My mom usually adds smoked meat (another Croatian dish) in the stuffed peppers for extra flavor, although you can omit this if you are not a fan of smoked meat.
- Along with the smoked meat, my mom would sometimes add sausages to the sauce.
- Make extra punjene paprike to freeze and save for a later date. I find that they taste even better the next day and make great leftovers.
Punjene Paprike – Stuffed Peppers Ingredients
The Peppers & Stuffing
- 10 medium-sized different colored peppers
- 1 kg of ground beef. You can use lean beef but the most flavor is from fatty beef or use a mix of 1/2 beef and half pork or even 1/2 veal and 1/2 beef. Make it to your preference.
- one large onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves (you can omit the garlic)
- Ground Paprika to your liking, usually 1 tablespoon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Vegeta (a Croatian seasoning) optional
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup of uncooked risotto-style rice (depending on how much rice to meat ratio you prefer)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of soda water or a pinch of bicarbonate soda
- 1/2 cup of freshly chopped parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 100 – 200 grams finely diced speck (if you don’t like smokey flavors then omit this)
Pujene Paprike – Croatian Stuffed Peppers Sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 diced medium onion
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste ( I like a bit more tomato sauce)
- 2 liters chicken stock (or water)
- Pinch of Vegeta ( a little goes a long way – optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
Punjene Paprike – Croatian Stuffed Peppers Instructions
- Take 8-10 medium-sized peppers, and carefully cut out the top and set aside. You can keep the pepper lids to use during cooking, this is optional.
- Scoop out the insides and be sure to remove all of the seeds and any stringy pieces. Wash the lids and peppers and allow them to dry upside down on a paper towel while you make the stuffing
- Add all the stuffing ingredients to a large bowl and use your hands to lightly mix until combined. Yes, you will have to use your hands to really mix the ingredients together.
- Flip the peppers over and fill them with the meat and rice stuffing until they are almost full. But do not overfill them as the rice will expand as it cooks.
- Arrange the stuffed peppers in the saucepan. Don’t pack them too tight as they can break while expanding and cooking and make a mess.
- Add in 2 bay leaves and the smoked meat if you decide to use it.
Punjene Paprike -Croatian Stuffed Peppers Sauce
- In a separate saucepan on medium heat add the olive oil and saute the diced medium onion
- Once the onions are cooked and transparent, add the 2 tablespoons of flour and cook until light brown. Keep stirring and scraping so it doesn’t burn. Add the tomato paste, 2 liters of homemade stock (or water) along with a Pinch of Vegeta, and add salt & pepper to your taste
- Stir all the ingredients until the sauce starts to come to a boil. Turn off the heat and pour the tomato sauce over your peppers. Make sure that each pepper is well covered in the sauce. If the sauce is too thick then add more water or stock.
- Add smoked meat and sausages if you like smokey flavors
- We usually don’t place the top of the peppers on but you can add them if you kept them.
- Make sure the sauce is evenly spread and bring the sauce to a boil. Once it starts to boil then turn down the stove to a gentle simmer. Cook for approx 2 hours on low heat, occasionally shaking the saucepan to make sure the peppers do not stick to the pan. Try to keep the sauce evenly spread so the peppers don’t stick to the pan.
- Once the peppers are done cooking let them cool slightly before serving as they can fall apart.
- Serve with mashed potato or rice
Have you tried Punjene paprike?