(2011) Soon after September 11, 2001, my employer at the time asked me to take all Middle Eastern items off the menu. I was just about to suggest that we explore the cuisines of Iran and Iraq to better understand two thirds of the axis of evil. Instead, I called my cousin and informed him that I was about to become Mexican.
I began seriously studying the cuisines of Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico. There were so many similarities and common ingredients between the Mediterranean and South American cuisines that I wondered if we were not really Assyrians but Mexicans. Rice, chili peppers, olives, almonds, raisins, onions, garlic and cilantro were staples in both Mexican and Assyrian cooking. Even the grilled meats wrapped in tortillas and topped with cilantro and onions (tacos) were strangely similar to shish kabobs topped with a cilantro, hot peppers, and onion relish that were wrapped in flatbread.
Patrick, the owner chef of Slims in Cincinnati, was also influenced and inspired by the foods of Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico. He invited me to prepare a meal for 25 guests as a guest chef at his beautiful contemporary restaurant in Northside. The menu of tamales, green rice and market salad celebrated the amazing chili pepper and ended with a dark chocolate ancho chili pound cake with a dollop of coffee cream.
Following that special event I did a six month stint at Slims where I created a Sunday Brunch and plant based entrees, salads, appetizers and desserts.
These Stuffed Poblano Peppers were added to the menu. They were served with a Pasilla Chili sauce and a salad made from greens grown by Patrick and dressed with a lime vinaigrette.
Poblanos deliver a slight amount of heat and their own unique flavor. (When poblanos are dried they become Ancho Chilies) The many flavors and textures of this dish satisfy even hard-core carnivores
I usually make this dish when the garden is loaded with peppers and they are plentiful at the farmer’s market. Bags of the shiny dark green peppers were on the sale rack at Meijers for less than one dollar a bag. Everything else in the recipe was already in the pantry. A rich vegetable stock was stored in the freezer.
The Stuffed Poblano Peppers keep in the refrigerator for days and freeze well.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Cook’s notes: Dry roasted almonds are available at Trader Joe’s.
6 large or 12 small Poblano Peppers
Make the Stuffing:
¼ cup Olive Oil
1 Red Onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, remove stem and seeds, finely chop
4 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups cooked Brown Rice (1 cup rice cooked with 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon salt)
1-2 Chipotle Peppers canned in adobo sauce, remove and discard seeds and stems, finely mince the peppers
1 cup Roasted Corn (dry roasted in a non-stick frying pan until the edges turn golden brown)
1 cup Cooked Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup Golden Raisins
1/2 cup Dry Roasted Slivered Almonds, chopped
1/2 cup Pimento Stuffed Green Olives, rinsed and chopped
1 cup shredded Mexican Jack Cheese
½ cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Creama Mexicana or Sour Cream
Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and fry until the edges begin to brown. Add the red pepper and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Add the garlic and spices. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Add the cooked rice, chipotles, corn, beans, raisins, almonds, olives, cheese and cilantro.
Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
2 cups Vegetable Stock, I prefer Seitenbacher Broth Powder.
Stuff the Peppers:
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Remove the tops from the peppers. Remove and discard the seeds.
Fill the peppers with the stuffing. Replace the tops and secure with round toothpicks.
Layer the filled peppers in an oiled casserole dish. Pour the hot stock over the peppers.
Cover with a fitted piece of parchment paper. Cover and seal with foil.
Bake the stuffed peppers in the preheated oven for 1½-2 hours or until the peppers are tender.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the peppers to steep for 30 minutes before serving.
Transfer the stuffed peppers to a platter. Remove the toothpicks.
Serve with Creama Mexicana or Sour Cream