Puebla (the state and the city) offers a treasure chest full of familiar food favorites. Whose taste buds don’t start tingling at thoughts of mole Poblano, chiles en nogada, or a plate full of chalupas? Historically, we have nuns to thank for their diligence in early convento kitchens. The Sisters’ creativity with local and introduced ingredients is truly a blessing for any foodie!
In chiles rellenos de elote (chiles stuffed with corn), our humble poblanos take center stage. These are common, classic, and one of the most versatile peppers around. With thicker sidewalls, they hold up well for stuffing while delivering a bit more punch than bell peppers. When you want a delicious side dish, this is it. Pack them lightly, if you wish, or pile them high for hearty eaters. You’ll find they become chameleons as flavorful companions to chicken, pork and beef.
You can always take shortcuts with stuffed peppers, but fresh ingredients make them so much better. Roma tomatoes and white onions are naturals and we bring a little something extra to the table with corn grilled to a nice char. This adds a crispy, flavorful edge you can’t get any other way. In a pinch, use canned corn or take kernels off the cob and saute with the other ingredients.
This fairly easy side differs from the fried version. It’s baked, not with eggs as is typical, but with a simple cheese sauce that incorporates Asadero. In true Mexican form – also called Oaxaca – it’s stringy. Americanized versions are more “melty” and are readily available.
Yields 4 servings
4 Poblano peppers (substitutes: Anaheim peppers)
Blister the peppers on a grill or under the broiler. Instead of sweating them in a paper bag, shock them in ice water. They’ll peel nicely and maintain a better firmness for filling. Leave the stems on.
2 ears of corn
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
3-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 ounces Asadero cheese, in small strips (substitutions: Monterey Jack)
approx. 4-5 stems cilantro leaves, chopped
½ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
salt to taste
oil to saute onion and garlic
Instructions for Filling:
Saute chopped onion and garlic in oil until transparent.
Add chopped tomatoes, pepper, and salt; heat thoroughly.
Place in large bowl; stir in shredded cheese and cilantro.
Carefully cut a full slit in each skinned pepper – remove seeds and membranes – and add filling.
Cheese Sauce (cut this in half if you just want to “top off” the peppers)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1¾ cups milk
8 ounces Asadero cheese, slivers or small cubes
Instructions for Cheese Sauce:
Melt butter and gradually add in flour, stirring constantly to make a roux.
Add milk, stirring in slowly and keep it simmering; let it thicken
Add cheese and stir to melt.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place peppers in a casserole dish and cover with cheese sauce. Bake for about 45-60 minutes. Note: You can stuff peppers ahead of time and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature while preparing sauce and then bake.