Sunday, October 13, 2013

Roasted Chile Relleno with Avocado-Chipotle Sauce

Whether in their fresh or dried (ancho) form, poblanos are my favorite pepper, and consequently I have a real weakness for chile rellenos. It's one of my favorite things to order when I'm out for Mexican food, and I'll happily chow down on both the Americanized and authentic versions. Despite a deep love for this dish, I don't have the ambition or time to bread and deep-fry chile rellenos at home. But a roasted version? That I can handle.

Restaurant chile rellenos are often just stuffed with wonderfully indulgent amounts of cheese, but I love the added veggie, beans, and grains in the homemade version that create a much more varied collection of flavors and textures. Though it lacks a deep-fried breading, the luxurious avocado sauce and toasty pepitas add their own unique richness and crunchiness that are still amply satisfying. A healthier and less labor-intensive version of the Pueblan classic, this dish is a more-than-fitting use of that state's namesake pepper to fulfill your spicy, cheesy cravings.

Roasted Chile Relleno with Avocado-Chipotle Sauce
adapted from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan
serves 1

1 large or 2 to 3 small to medium poblano peppers

For the Filling:
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground ancho chile
1 medium shallot lobe, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
4 or 5 Swiss chard leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced (or spinach or kale)
1 plum or other small tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped
¼ cup cooked black or pinto beans, preferably homemade, rinsed and drained
¼ cup cooked brown or white rice, farro, or quinoa
1 ounce Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, cut into small chunks or grated
Kosher or sea salt

For the Sauce:
½ avocado, pitted
2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt or sour cream
¼ teaspoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle in adobo)
Juice of ½ lime
2 to 3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon roasted shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Blacken the skin of the poblano pepper by turning a gas burner to high and setting the poblano right on the grate, using tongs to turn it periodically until it is charred all over. (If you don’t have a gas stove, preheat your oven broiler and set the poblano on a pan about 4 to 5 inches from the broiler element or flame and broil for 5 to 6 minutes, turning periodically until it is charred all over.) Transfer the pepper to a stainless steel or glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam as it cools.

3. While the poblano is cooling, make the filling. Pour the olive oil into a medium skillet over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, sprinkle in the ground ancho chile and cook for about 30 seconds, until it foams and releases its aroma. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the Swiss chard and tomato and cook until the chard wilts and the tomato softens, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the black beans, rice, and cheese, and season with salt to taste. Let cool.

4. When the poblano is cool enough to handle, gently rub off the blackened skin, being careful not to tear the flesh open. Use a sharp paring knife to cut a slit on one side of the poblano, starting near the stem and cutting about halfway down the side. Carefully reach in and remove the seeds, trying not to enlarge the opening if possible. Use your hands to carefully stuff the filling into the poblano, getting it as full as possible. Carefully transfer the stuffed poblano to a baking sheet, cut side up. Don’t worry if the filling is exposed.

5. Roast the poblano for 15 to 20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

6. While the poblano is roasting, make the sauce. Scoop the avocado flesh into a small bowl and use a fork to thoroughly mash it. Whisk in the yogurt, adobo sauce, and lime juice, adding more water if you want the sauce to be thinner. Pour enough sauce onto a dinner plate to evenly coat the botom.

7. Transfer the poblano to the plate and spoon remaining sauce on top, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds, and eat.

Note: To roast the pumpkin seeds, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 5 to 7 minutes, until the seeds are very fragrant. Immediately transfer to a plate to stop the cooking and allow the seeds to cool completely.

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