I’ve been spending entirely too much time sitting at my desk and not enough of it standing in the kitchen, which has resulted in a pretty impressive knot in my right shoulder. But the boys are great company, even if they’re weird (and occasionally smelly — eye-wateringly so). I look over to find them in the strangest positions, fast asleep:
But I did manage to cook up a couple of recipes featuring poblanos last week. I absolutely adore these peppers from Bialas Farms because they have some character — not insipid or bland, but full of flavor with a peppery bite. The obvious place to begin was with poblanos with crema, something I make whenever I’ve stocked up on these peppers. The major players are onions, poblanos, crema and cheese, but this is a dish where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I couldn’t find crema this time, so I used heavy cream mixed with roughly an equal amount of full-fat sour cream, and it worked perfectly.
I just never said it was pretty.
I love to serve it with homemade corn tortillas, but a good packaged variety would really cut down on the work involved. For me, making the tortillas is worth the effort, especially when it comes time for dessert and I smear a little honey butter on a still-warm tortilla and sprinkle it with a little salt. It’s heaven, I tell ya. I take the easy way out and use a cast iron tortilla press, but if you really want to get down and dirty, have at it with a rolling pin!
Both the poblanos with crema recipe and tortilla how-to are from Simply Recipes. I used Bob’s Red Mill masa harina this time and liked it just as much as the Maseca brand I’ve always used in the past. Bob’s is much easier to locate around here, so it probably will become my default brand for tortilla-making.
The other obvious choice when you have a surfeit of poblanos is chiles rellenos, which always remind me of my mom. They were her favorite item at the local Tex-Mex joint when I was a kid (Anyone else miss the old Pancho’s on Veterans Boulevard?), though I didn’t understand the appeal of the dish at the time. I was more of a cheesy enchilada girl, you see. But now that I’m older, I get it. Problem is, I don’t want to go to the trouble of making an authentic version of it, both for the gut-busting cheese filling and for my fear of frying, even in miniscule amounts of oil.
So I healthed it up, with inspiration from Vegetarian Times.
The most difficult part (IMHO) of making this is charring the poblanos and somehow removing the seeds and membranes without completely destroying the pepper. What worked best for me was charring them over open flames on my gas burners just until blackened; any longer over the flames and they turned too mushy to handle. After they rested in a covered bowl for five minutes or so, I used a paper towel to get rid of most of the blackened skin, then slit open one side of the pepper and carefully scooped out the membranes and seeds with a small spoon. If you have an easier way to go about it, please let me know in the comments, because I do plan to make this again someday.
Instead of a fully cheesy center, I stuffed the now-prepped poblanos (only four large ones, though I’d recommend going with six to use up all of the filling) with a mixture of onions, diced mushrooms and spinach sautéed together, then mixed with a can of rinsed black beans and about two ounces of shredded mild cheddar. Jack would work here, too, or any of your favorite melty cheeses. I think I seasoned it with some ground cumin along with salt & pepper, but it’s honestly a little tough to remember. (And I rarely write things down as I’m cooking.) I closed up the peppers with wooden toothpicks before dipping them in an egg wash (just one beaten egg), then in corn meal seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little chipotle chile powder. They baked at 425°F for 25 minutes.
For the sauce, I sautéed a chopped onion, minced garlic clove, some ground cumin and coriander seed, Mexican chile powder, and salt & pepper in a little olive oil until the onion was softened. I added a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes and a chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce and let it bubble away until the poblanos were about five minutes from being ready. At that point, I blended the sauce until it was completely smooth, then enjoyed the hell out of my lunch. Unfortunately, I only made four of these peppers, which Gil and I finished off in one sitting. If you make this, I’d certainly suggest doubling whatever recipe you use. It’s well worth it. You could change out the stuffing ingredients to use what you have on hand — corn, zucchini, rice, quinoa, etc. I love adaptable dishes!
And poblanos. I really, truly adore them.