By Emily Paster
I get very excited when I see poblano peppers for sale at the Oak Park Farmers Market. You may be familiar with poblano peppers from the Mexican restaurant favorite chiles rellenos, in which poblano peppers are stuffed with cheese, battered and then deep-fried. Usually topped with a spicy red sauce, chiles rellenos is a delicious, if guilt-inducing dish that I can almost never pass up. I definitely ate more than my fair share of rellenos when we were in Santa Fe this summer.
I don't make chiles rellenos at home because I am too chicken to deep-fry anything in my kitchen. Plus, the lingering smell of hot oil is a big downer. But I love to make stuffed poblano peppers that are baked in the oven — they are almost as tasty as the fried kind and a lot better for you. I have stuffed poblano peppers with meat and chicken before, but this time, I decided to make a vegetarian, rice-and-black-bean stuffed poblano dish. And, I also decided to try roasting the poblanos before stuffing.
In the past, I had made stuffed poblanos using raw poblanos, which is more like the Italian version of stuffed peppers. I sliced the raw poblanos in half — always using rubber gloves because although poblanos are not as hot as jalapeños, they can still irritate your skin — filled them, placed them in a dish with sauce and then baked them covered in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. As an example, here is a recipe from last summer for poblano peppers stuffed with chicken and corn.
This time, however, I decided to try roasting the poblanos first to make them more like chiles rellenos. This step adds extra work, but the results made it worthwhile. My husband expressed a strong preference for this version of stuffed poblano peppers. Roasting left the poblanos very soft and the truth is, it was difficult to stuff the peppers. In the end, it was more like I wrapped the peppers around the filling. So, the finished dish was not the prettiest, but again, it tasted great.
Here's another confession: I used a prepared enchilada sauce to top my peppers. Yes, it's true: I don't make everything from scratch. And you know what? You shouldn't either. The extra time I spent roasting the peppers meant that I used prepared sauce. It's all about trade-offs, people! Luckily, the Frontera brand prepared sauces from celebrity chef Rick Bayless are pretty tasty. I have no shame in using them.
Pobano Peppers Stuffed with Rice and Black Beans
- 6 poblano peppers
- 2 TB vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 1 tsp each cumin and coriander
- 1/2 tsp. chile powder
- 1 8 oz. package Frontera Red Chile Enchilada Sauce
- 8 oz. grated Mexican cheese blend
- Preheat broiler and arrange oven rack 4-5 inches from top of oven.
- Place poblanos on a baking sheet lined with foil.
- Broil peppers, turning as needed, until charred all over.
- Remove peppers from oven, cover loosely with a clean tea towel and allow to cool.(May be done ahead of time.)
- Turn off boiler and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Season the onion and garlic with cumin, coriander, and chile powder and continue to saute a few more minutes until fragrant.
- Stir in beans and rice into the onion mixture and toss to combine. Season well with salt and pepper and continue to saute until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Peel the charred skin off the outside of the peppers and cut a small slit on one side. Carefully remove the seeds from inside the pepper.
- Carefully stuff the peppers with the rice and black bean filling. The peppers may split open, in which case wrap the peppers around the filling as best you can.
- Place the stuffed peppers in a lightly oiled 2 qt baking dish.
- Top the peppers with the enchilada sauce and grated cheese.
- Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted, about 15-20 minutes.