2.10.11 Stuff It
Valentine's Day is approaching. Do you even care? Even if you do, the last thing you'll be planning is dinner out with your sweetie. We all know what a disaster that is, right? Surrounded by tables of clammy-handed twenty-somethings trying to express their devotion through over-priced specials at restaurants with mood lighting? No, thanks. If you want to be truly romantic, prepare a lovely meal at home. In the next couple of days, I promise to post some richly satisfying and epicuriously exciting dishes worthy of this over-hyped occasion that you can consider whipping up for your beloved(s). You might even try this one, a fairly simple, easily customizable recipe for stuffed poblano chiles, those gorgeously green and glossy creatures you've undoubtedly admired from afar.
Poblanos hail from the Mexican state of Puebla. Like the best partners, they are generally mild but can surprise you with a bit of heat. When dried, they are known as ancho chiles. The fresh ones are used for chiles rellenos, a delicious preparation in which they are stuffed with cheese, dipped in an egg batter and fried. They are also served with a delicious walnut sauce for the traditional chiles en nogada. Both of those dishes are a lot more bother than this one, which involves simply stuffing the chiles with whatever you have on hand, blobbing a bit of cheese on top and roasting them briefly with a bit of spicy sauce.The first step, as you can see above, is charring the skin of the chiles so you can easily remove it. I simply stick them on my gas burners, turning them with tongs until they are evenly charred all over. This is painless.
Then you place the charred chiles in a plastic bag, so they can steam. Leave them in there until they are cool enough to handle.
Then you pull off the peel. Sometimes it's easier to do under running water. Do it gently, as you want to avoid tearing the flesh of the chile. This is a bit of an acquired skill, so don't get all freaked out if some little bits of skin are left behind. It's just not a big deal.
Once peeled, you make a slit up one side and remove the seeds from within the chile, leaving the stem intact. Now they're ready to be stuffed. You can stuff them with a mixture of ground meat and rice, or just rice, or lots of chopped up vegetables, cheese or even mashed potatoes. Basically they have become a vehicle for whatever you've got on hand.
I used a mixture of cooked quinoa with some fresh corn I had frozen this summer, some grated carrot, a few raisins (traditional in Mexican cooking), onion, garlic and cilantro. I winged it, and so can you. Just sautee everything together until it melds into an orgy of flavor. Leftover squash, barley, tomatoes? Toss in some pine nuts or chopped almonds. Anything goes.
I put mine in a small casserole, dotted them with some fresh mozzarella, and drizzled them with the remains of that can of chipotle sauce I had opened when making those bean tostadas the other day. Then I popped them in the oven at 350 until the cheese and sauce were bubbling. Beyond this, you don't need a recipe. Make up your own. Let your freak flag fly. Put a little love into it and see what happens.