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Mexican Peppers with Pomegranate Sauce

ingredients

4 large green peppers
10 oz (300 g) lean minced beef
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 fresh green chilli pepper, finely chopped
2 ripe medium-sized tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 oz (40 g) sultanas
1 tsp soft light brown sugar or caster sugar
pinch ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 oz (25 g) slivered or flaked almonds
scant 1 oz (20 g) butter
sunflower oil
salt and pepper

for the pomegranate sauce:

4 walnut halves
1 oz (30 g) whole almonds, blanched and peeled
7 fl oz (200 ml) single cream
1 1/2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
pinch caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
fleshy seeds from half a pomegranate
few whole coriander leaves
1 lime
salt

method

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) mark 6.

2. Rinse and dry the peppers and bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, turning halfway through to loosen their skins. Peel the whole peppers carefully, remove the stalk neatly, cutting away just sufficient flesh surrounding it to make it easy to remove the seeds and pale pith using two fingers.

3. Make the filling while the peppers are in the oven. Heat the butter with 1 tbsp oil in a wide non-stick frying pan over a low heat and sweat the onion, garlic and chilli pepper for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. Increase the heat, add the meat and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

4. Add the finely chopped tomatoes, the vinegar, sultanas, sugar, cloves and cinnamon. Stir well, turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, over a very low heat for 15 minutes or until all excess moisture has evaporated, stirring at frequent intervals.

5. Stir in the almonds, cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes and then remove from the heat.

6. Make the sauce. Put the walnuts and almonds in the blender with the cream, coriander leaves, cinnamon and a pinch each of salt and sugar; process briefly.

7. Fill the peeled peppers with the hot stuffing mixture, pressing it down into them gently but firmly. Place each stuffed pepper on a plate, pour a little of the cream sauce over each serving and sprinkle with a few pomegranate seeds and a couple of coriander leaves (the colours echo those of the Mexican flag).

8. Place a wedge of lime on each plate for each person to squeeze over the stuffed pepper.

9. Serve at once. If you prefer to serve the peppers very hot, return them to a moderate oven (325°F (170°C) mark 3) for 15 minutes in an ovenproof dish after stuffing them, to heat through before covering with the sauce and garnishing.

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