Stuffed Peppers Mexican Style
Last year, I introduced you to the giant poblano pepper plants that thrive in my garden. With a Scoville Scale rating that falls between a bell pepper and a mild jalapeno, poblanos provide the perfect “warmth” to Mexican dishes without threatening your taste buds.
Well … I guess that depends on the heat tolerance of your tongue.
And the inherent personality of the pepper itself, apparently.
I was struggling with what I could share with you in this post so I took a break … and looked for inspiration from one of my favorite sources: Chopped on Food Network. It came in the form of a basket ingredient. Not a poblano, but close. Hatch Chile Peppers. (Note: these peppers are from the same family but grown in different locations, they develop unique characteristics.)
As the judges were talking about the peppers, they mentioned the uncertainty of the heat levels from the pepper. This reminded me of a morning when my son’s girlfriend was visiting us and invited one of her friends over for brunch. We stuffed poblanos with an egg, cheese, and sausage mixture and I assured them the peppers would not be too spicy.
I heard a “cough” and I knew I was wrong.
Now before you picture two 20-something gals with tears running down their cheeks, gasping for air, it wasn’t that bad. I had, however unintentionally, served them something spicier than intended. The problem was quickly solved with two options:
The first thing we did was to add more of the mild, egg filling to their plate. They were enjoying the overall flavor but needed to balance the ratio of the filling to the pepper. The second thing we discovered was that some of the peppers were much more spicy than others.
This was what the judges on Chopped were discussing as they watched the contestants preparing their dish. When you look up a pepper on the Scoville Scale, you will find not one number for the heat units of the pepper, but a range. Some poblano peppers are hotter than others, even if they are grown in the same garden.
You must taste the peppers before you use them … certainly before you serve them to others.
Do not let this uncertainty deter you from making this (or other) recipes with peppers. Just remember:
- Removing seeds and membranes from peppers reduces the severity of the heat.
- Taste food as you prepare it so you can make adjustments.
- If a dish turns out too hot/spicy, temper it with more filling or cooling condiments like sour cream or avocado.
- Should you encounter a pepper that is just too spicy for you, remember the filling is still good. You don’t have to eat the pepper to enjoy the meal.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- 12 poblano peppers
- olive or avocado oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 cup white or brown rice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder see notes below
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted
- 1 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
- 1 12-16 ounce block pepper-jack cheese shredded
- sour cream
- lime wedges
- Wash and dry peppers. Cut in half, lengthwise, and remove seeds and membranes. Place on cookie sheet, cut side down.
- Drizzle peppers with olive/avocado oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Broiler Method: Place peppers about 6" below oven broiler until the outside of peppers blister and char. Remove from oven.
- Grill Method: Place peppers cut side up on preheated (400 degree) grill. Remove from grill when peppers blister and char.
- Peppers should look like this ...
- Cook rice in chicken broth as per package instructions. A small amount of diced, fresh cilantro and lime juice can be added to the rice after cooking for a little extra flavor. Set aside.
- Brown ground pork with a little salt & pepper (1/2 teaspoon of each) until fully cooked; drain. Return pan to burner and add chili powder (and other herbs spices if desired); stir to distribute. Remove from heat when thoroughly heated.
- In a large bowl, combine rice, ground pork mixture, beans, corn, and tomatoes. Stir in shredded cheese.
Assembly & Cooking
- Spoon filling mixture into each pepper half.
- Oven Method: Place peppers on cookie sheet and bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
- Grill Method: Place peppers on hot grill (350 degrees) for 8-10 minutes (indirect heat is best to avoid over cooking the peppers) or until filling mixture is hot.
- Remove from heat to serving tray.
- Serve with fresh cilantro, sour cream, salsa, avocado, and lime wedges.
- Bell peppers can also be used if poblano peppers are not available or in season.
- I like to add 1/2-1 teaspoon of some/all of the following to the chili powder: granulated garlic, dried herbs (cilantro, Mexican oregano, epazote), cumin, coriander, and chipotle powder.
- Leftover stuffed peppers freeze very well. Wrap individually (or in pairs) in plastic wrap and place in a large resealable plastic bag. When ready to use, remove from freezer and allow to defrost completely. Place peppers on a cookie sheet under the broiler (low setting) and watch carefully. Remove from broiler when filing is bubbly and heated through.
- Leftover peppers, topped with scrambled eggs, make a wonderful breakfast.
- Leftover filling can be used in tacos or soups.
Special thanks to the Creator of this amazing pepper for working through Ted Allen and the Chopped judges to get me over writer’s block!