Stuffed Poblano Chiles

Poblanos are possibly my favorite chili. They have great flavor, moderate heat, and are perfect for stuffing. What follows is less a recipe (note the lack of an ingredients list) and more a “how-to.”

Step 1: Roast the Poblanos

In order to maintain enough structural integrity in the thin-walled poblano to be sure it doesn’t fall apart while filling, it’s best to roast them over an open flame. Roasting them over the flame of a gas stove or hot grill works well, but I find it easier to do this with a propane torch. Char the skin all over and when each chili is done let it rest in a covered container. Resting makes it easy to slide the tough outer skin off. Peeling under running water makes it even easier.

Step 2: Prepare the Fillings

Options for fillings are many. Consider stretching and reinventing leftovers by using them here. I recently did a vegan version with rice and beans as the filling. Spice up those rice and beans. Make sure they pop!

Rice

I like medium-grained white rice that has been cooked with a stick of Ceylon cinnamon, annatto oil, and a flavorful dried chili.

Beans

I’m an anti-soaker. Any bean can be cooked from the dry state in 2–3 hours. I love using the pressure cooker with dried beans. Just 40 minutes from the pantry to perfect with no planning ahead. No matter how they’re cooked, I like a generous amount of ground coriander with pinto or a chipotle meco for black beans.

Beef

Omnivores might consider a bit of uber-flavorful shredded beef. Start with heavily salted water. It’s best to use a tough, hard-working cut (chuck, brisket, round) and add lots of aromatics like onion, garlic, celery, carrot, leeks, spices, and herbs. You can go anywhere with the last two. Consider Ceylon cinnamon, dried or fresh chilies, cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, bundles of leftover stems of cilantro, or epazote. Any one or combination of these will work. Just remember that this is a bonus to the dish and should be a flavor-bomb. Don’t be shy. Poach the beef at 190–200° for several hours until it shreds easily. Feel free to prepare it ahead of time and let it cool in the broth to make it taste even better.

Step 3: Assembly

Slit the poblanos down the side and remove veins and seeds. Fill each half with rice and beans (and a bit of beef if you’ve chosen that path). Once stuffed, place in a baking dish and they are ready to be sauced with tomato or tomatillo sauce or even just heavy cream. A blanket of good melting cheese is also a nice option. Bake in at 350° for an hour or so to soften the chilies and bring the flavors together.