This is my first post as an occasional contributor to KitchenThymes and as with future offerings, this one reflects an element of my philosophy of cooking: recipes should be one’s own. This recipe allows for a great deal of flexibility in ingredients and depending upon your imagination can be served at any time of day: all you need are the chilies and the right amount of delicious stuffing. It can easily be tailored to your tastes and dietary preferences and can become vegetarian or vegan (although the cheese binds the stuffing nicely). What follows is the “core” recipe with ideas for substitutions and their preparation at the end.
We have a small garden and in early September it is producing at a furious pace. One of my favorites, featured in this recipe, is poblano chilies, which grow just fine around Boston. Poblanos are similar in size to the less interesting and ubiquitous green bell pepper but are darker green and characterized by a spicy flavor and a distinctive point on the end.
Regular green peppers have thick flesh and therefore a high water content. They need to be cooked longer to have some other ingredient soak up the water and they lose their shape as they cook. Poblanos, however, have thin flesh so are pliable and easy to stuff. All they need to do is allow their flavor to blend with the stuffing. They may be difficult to find in some areas but they are worth some extra effort to find.
This basic recipe is for a stuffing of rice and chicken although the photos are from a meatless meal with black beans standing in for the chicken. I have made the appropriate comments as to how to deal with substitutions throughout the directions.
2 ½ c. cooked long-grain brown rice (⅔ c. uncooked rice, cooked)
4 large or 6 medium poblano chilies
2 boneless chicken breast halves
½ large white onion
2 medium tomatoes
½ c. mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeño chile
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. Mexican (or regular) oregano
1 t. medium red chile powder
1 pinch cinnamon (optional)
1 T. lime juice
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
Cook rice as desired or use leftover rice. You will need ~ 2 ½ cups.
Preheat oven to 400˚ F.
Coat poblanos very lightly with olive oil and arrange on baking sheet.
Bake poblanos at 400˚ F. for 15 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, chop the onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. Mince the garlic and jalapeño.
Cut chicken into ½” cubes or shreds.
Heat a large sauté pan to medium and add 1 T. olive oil.
Sauté onions for 5 minutes.
Between the sautéing steps below, the poblanos need to be seeded. Work on them as you have time.
You can remove some or all of the loose skin from the poblanos if you wish but it is not necessary.
Cut a slit down the length of the poblanos being careful to cut only through one layer.
On either side of the slit, cut around the stem 90° or so, ~ 1”. Gently open up the poblano and cut the seeds from the stem, removing seeds and ribs without tearing their flesh (this takes some patience and practice).
To the sautéing onions, add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes.
Add garlic and jalapeño and sauté for 1 minute.
Add tomatoes, chicken and spices and sauté until chicken is done, about 7-10 minutes.
If you are using shrimp or black beans, add to sauté pan 5 minutes after tomatoes and spices are added and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add cooked rice (or other grain) and lime juice and stir all ingredients to combine. Turn off heat.
Grate cheese and add half (~ 1 c.) to other ingredients in sauté pan. Stir gently to combine.
Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
Carefully stuff poblanos with equal amounts of mixture. Don’t be afraid to allow the poblano to expand with more stuffing. Top each with equal amounts of remaining grated cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is browned. Put under broiler if browning is needed.
Serve on a puddle of red or green Mexican chili sauce – or both.
Quinoa or other grain can be substituted for the rice. For quinoa, stir 1 c. into boiling water and simmer for five minutes. Cover, turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Shrimp or black beans or both can be substituted for any portion of the chicken.
If using shrimp, cut 1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp into ½” cubes. Add to sauté pan as directed.
If using black beans, add 2 c. to sauté pan as directed.
Scrambled eggs can be used as the base of the stuffing in place of the rice. The eggs are delicate, so sauté vegetables as directed and fold in cooked eggs just prior to stuffing the chilies.
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