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Don’t be afraid of the heat: Make perfect poblanos

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

As of this writing, my garden hasn’t been hit by a hard frost, so my pepper plants are still hanging in by a thread.

Although a warm weather crop, peppers really are most prolific from late August through October. With the long growing season this year, I had a bumper crop.

One of my favorite peppers to grow is the poblano chile. Despite its name, the poblano has very little heat. It measures between 1,000 and 2,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. For comparison, a jalapeno is about 8,000 SHU, and a serrano 16,500.

Poblanos are about 4 inches long and a very dark green. Because their walls are fairly thick, they are the perfect pepper for stuffing, as they hold their shape well. Poblanos are usually roasted and peeled before eating. In addition to removing the tough outer skin, the roasting adds a deeper layer of flavor.

When doing only a few, I roast them directly over the flame on my gas stove. This year, with more than 50 from my harvest, my chile-roaster-in-chief (aka husband) set up our small Weber grill and did them over charcoal. Much faster than the stove, the entire roasting process took about 15 minutes. After peeling the chiles, I put them in freezer bags to use later.

Although poblanos can be incorporated in many dishes, their most famous iteration is in chiles rellenos. Stuffed with cheese, the poblanos are then dipped in an fluffy egg batter and fried until golden. They are usually served with a light tomato sauce.

Chiles rellenos are traditionally stuffed with queso Oaxaca, but you can use any type of cheese that melts well. The recipe below is for four peppers, but you can increase or decrease the quantity as you like. I usually use one large egg for every two peppers.

When choosing poblanos, look for ones with the stem still attached. It makes it easier to turn them when frying.

Chiles rellenos, above, are topped with a light tomato sauce. Below, the poblano peppers are roasted to deepen the flavor.

Chiles Rellenos

  • 4 poblano chiles, peeled and de-seeded
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound cheese, grated
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or a 14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Stuff each chile with cheese and then roll in flour. Place them on a parchment covered tray and put in the freezer for 15 minutes. This will help them to hold their shape when frying.

Beat the egg yolks slightly and set aside. Begin to beat the egg whites. After a minute, add the salt and cream of tartar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the yolks into the whites along with a teaspoon of flour.

Heat about 1 inch vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees. Dip each chile into the egg mixture and fry until golden brown. Place on paper towels and set aside.

For the sauce, heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, breaking them with the back of a spoon. Add the salt and cook covered on a low flame for 15 minutes.

Allow the sauce to cool; then puree in a blender.

Spoon the sauce into an oven-proof dish and place the chiles on top. Heat in a 325-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

Serve with a spoonful of sauce on top.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at julietrulie11@gmail.com.