Boil your rice first.
I like a rice that doesn't need washing like Calrose medium
grain. If you always burn rice, try this instead. Throw out
the directions. To one part uncooked rice, bring to a boil
two parts water. Add a pat of butter or whatever. Return to
a boil. Reduce to lowest heat. Then add rice, and stir. Cover.
After five minutes, stir again. Re-cover. Turn the burner OFF.
Don't touch or snoop for twenty minutes. It'll produce two
parts of perfect cooked rice. While you're waiting:
Rinse peppers in cold water, cut in half the long way. With
a sharp knife cut out the stem and stem-base parts from the
shells, and all the "white" inside parts. Rinse
out all trimmings and seeds. Lay them out in 1 or 2 large
baking pans or Pyrexes. I don't grease my pans and that works
Preslice the cheddar into 20 "snack-thick" slices,
2 per pepper half to cover the stuffing you'll make. Cut
in half 10 strips of bacon to criss-cross over the cheese
on each piece. You want the cheese to make the excess bacon
fat meltings to mostly drip over the edge of the peppers.
Rinse, de-stem and cut in half the cherry tomatoes. Chop
the onion, but not too finely. You want to leave some texture.
After 20 minutes, uncover the rice, dump it in a large mixing
bowl, and let it cool 'til you can comfortably handle it.
Wash your hands again for show, shred your uncooked ground
beef (it really needs to be lean as its cooked fats have
nowhere else to go), and thoroughly mix into the rice. (If
you think you can do it as fast by wooden spoon, go for it!)
It's easier to start with part of the rice and part of the
burger and work your way up, and it helps to have a friend
to add the oregano, sage and chopped onions.
This is your stuffing. It should already smell GREAT! Work
it into each of the pepper halves with a big spoon, serving
size of better. Don't be afraid to compress it a bit to make
sure each portion is STUFFED. You should be able to use it
all up if the peppers are ordinary California "large".
Now, pour over these your plain old tomato sauce. For variety
you could try commercial sauces like Ragu, Homestead or Lucca,
but this recipe's already committed you to home seasoning.
Besides, I think commercial sauces would be overkill. You
already have enough flavors and textures.
Two slices of cheese parallel the long axis, criss-cross
the bacon, and two cherry tomato halves upside-down fixed
on top with toothpicks so they don't slide off. Into the
oven, uncovered, they go.
Use 425 degrees. To serve five, an hour will be about right,
or 1-1/4 hours if people snoop a lot. We did. 45 minutes
is about right for a serving for two (four halves). I go
for finished appearance and smell anyway. I like the bacon
medium crisp and the cheddar almost crusty but not scorched.
The tomatoes will start to wrinkle and brown a bit but will
be baked, not scorched. The outside of the pepper shells
will "look" cooked but not browned at all. Play
it by ear. It's hard to go wrong. I like the crispy texture
of the cheese and bacon when a bit over-done, when the tomatoes
are almost but not quite "stewed". If you like
everything done without a hint of burnt look or taste, experiment
with precooking your burger mix about 50% of "done" instead,
and cut back on oven time. You'll still be right.
Either way, this is a meal that's hard to fail to please.
Just let it cool a bit before serving, maybe long enough
for a glass of your favorite beverage. Enjoy.