Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I had these poblanos, because I went to Headhouse for one poblano (and other things) and they were going for next to nothing by the pint.  This is how I ended up with all those jalepenos that one time.  But poblanos are nothing to worry about.  They're a notch or two above a bell pepper, in terms of heat.  But what to do with them?  Luckily it rained.

Why is that lucky?  Because poblanos do well roasted or baked.  They get slightly sweet and tender and they just want to be cooked in the oven.   And finally, we had a cool night.   I mean right now, it's 72 degrees out.  Quick, make a lasagna!  Put on a sweater!  We'll be back to the 90s tomorrow.   

So late-ish in the evening, Sous Chef Brian and I were staring at the whiteboard in the kitchen, the one that lists all the stuff we have to use up.   Damn if I can find a way to use fresh mozzarella without fresh basil or fresh tomatoes, so that was out.  Carrots. Yeah, carrots.  Yogurt.  Blueberries.  But I also had good local corn.  So good that the corn salesguy (you know, the guy who sells you corn) said it'd be a waste to cook it, and that we should eat it raw.  So corn it was.   Note the cooked corn sacrifice.  

So I got to googling stuffed poblanos.  Not that I can't put my own stuff inside a pepper, and I did, but I wanted to know what was out there.  You know what's out there?  One recipe.  Everyone makes the same thing.  It's from a Martha Stewart Cookbook, and seriously, there are a dozen re-creations out there.  I'm no Martha fan, but that woman deserves royalties on this one. 

I make the mistake of imagining everyone is exactly like me.  I search recipes when I'm going to cook something new, to find out what others have learned before me.  Do I really need to marinate it?  Should I take off the lid towards the end?  But in the end, I aggregate what I've read and what's in the fridge.  If it's close, I cite the source (see Martha above), but unless it's something totally unfamiliar, I make stuff out of what I've got.  And I write my blog imagining you do the same.  Here's how I do it, now do it your way with your own fridge.  But apparently this one was hot enough for lots of folks to replicate.

So I followed some of Martha's guidance. But mine has a peppery sauce and roasted corn and no cornmeal or cumin.  Let's begin.

We started, of course, with the poblanos.  Two each.  

Uncapped them.

And Sous Chef Brian hollowed them out.

Hollow them out carefully - one got slashed in the process, so we cut it up and set it aside.  I had a backup, so we're still at two each. 

I put an ear of that beautiful, fresh, eat-it-raw corn on the stove.  Just on it.  If you don't have a gas stove, use your grill, because a match would take forever. 

I moved it around a few times, and then Sous Chef Brian un-cobbed it.  Shucked it?  I don't know.  Set it free. 

We also diced up a cipollini onion, because that's what we had, and set half aside and put the other half in a bowl with the corn. 

I added just a few tablespoons of black beans.  Soaked and cooked, canned, or even drained out of soup would work. 

And some jarred jalepenos, because it's what I had, but fresh is best. 

And cheese.  We had a fairly boring local cheddar, but I'd love to have used my favorite Hillacres Pride smoked cheddar.   Or some pepperjack or something. 

That all goes into the bowl with the corn and the beans and such, and we call it stuffing.

Stuff the peppers.

More than that.  Wedge it in there.

I used a chopstick to make sure it got all the way in.

Now the oven.  Don't do this when it's 90 out.  Dial it up to 450. 

Ok, breathe a moment and make sauce.

I had nearly two cups of tomatoes without skins but with juice.  You could use a 14oz can of whatever for this.  Plus the reserved half an onion.  

And the poblano from earlier that didn't make it.  Seriously, buy five, and the one that suffers the most in the hollowing-out process gets added to the sauce.  So worth it.

I also added half a can of these, but you could just roast your own red pepper, like the corn above.  Pepper, stove, paper bag, 10 minutes, rinse.  I used about 4oz of roasted pepper.  

And some terribly-photographed salt and pepper.  1/2 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp kosher salt.

And blend until smooth. 

Then I searched my kitchen for the baking dish that would fit the peppers the tightest.  I thought crowding the pan would keep them together and keep the sauce on top of them.  This was the best I could do.

And sauce.  Be sure to get sauce under the peppers as well. 

And I had a bit more cheese on hand, so I added it now, but you'd do better to wait. 

40 minutes covered, then cheese and 15 minutes uncovered.  Note my burned cheese.   Leaving it uncovered at the end helps the sauce thicken (thanks, Martha). 

My sauce looks like it's had a rough day.

This would be good over rice, if you're rice-oriented.  I am not.  Four peppers served two pretty well (see the rice note).  Might still be an ice cream night. 

They were outstanding.  I added no dried spices (ok, salt and pepper, but really) and they were bright and fresh tasting.  Just cheesy enough.  The jalepeno added just enough heat to start to hit the back of your throat, but not enough to send you for the milk.

This recipe is cross-posted at the blog for the South Philly Food Co-op, whose mission is to open a member-owned cooperative grocery store that provides affordable and nutritious food to all residents of South Philadelphia while empowering the local community through sustainable practices, food-centric education, outreach, and community building.  Become a member-owner by filling out the application here

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Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Bright summery flavors in a baked dish, good for a cooler summer evening.
  • 5 poblano peppers
  • 1 ear corn
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tablespoons black beans, cooked
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1 3/4 cups tomatoes, seedless, skinless in juice
  • 2 tablespoons jalepeno, sliced
  • 4 oz roasted red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
Hollow out four poblanos, and chop one and set aside. Reserve caps.Roast corn on gas stove or grill, turning regularly until charred. Remove kernels from corn with a sharp knife. For filling, dice an onion, reserve half and add half to filling bowl. Add corn, jalepeno, black beans and most of the shredded cheese to stuffing bowl. For sauce, Blend tomatoes, roasted pepper, reserved poblano, reserved onion and salt and pepper.Preheat oven to 450. Stuff poblanos with filling, using fingers, chopsticks, or whatever's necessary to get it to the bottom of the pepper. Use all the filling, if possible. Arrange poblanos in a small baking dish, and replace caps. Cover with sauce.Bake covered for 40 minutes at 450. Remove cover, add any remaining cheese and bake another 15 minutes.Serve with remaining sauce from pan.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 servings

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