Last week when I was making a Mexican feast of Carnitas – Mexican Roasted Pork and all the trimmings, one of those trimmings was Rajas or Roasted Poblanos with Cream.
Poblanos are the larger, dark green peppers that have just a hint of heat but are not HOT like habanero or jalapeno peppers. Roasted, like red peppers, they really mellow out into something special.
Roasted and then mixed with some onions, garlic, and Mexican Crema, they make a great side dish and would make an incredible vegetarian taco filling on their own.
Here’s what you need:
Poblanos, Onion, Garlic (not shown), Mexican Crema*, Oregano, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper.
*Mexican Crema is similar to American Sour Cream or French Creme Fraiche although it is thinner and not as sour tasting. Thanks to some good cross cultural pollination, people becoming more adventurous cooks, and if we’re honest, probably the food shows on TV (hello, Aaron Sanchez!), you can now find things like Crema and Queso Fresco (Mexican crumbling cheese) in most grocery stores. I love shopping at specialty markets for Latin and Asian foods, but it’s nice to be able to pick up some international ingredients at my regular neighborhood store.
And this isn’t just in Florida either…one of the best grocery stores for really good dried peppers, ingredients for Mexican foods, and fabulous devotional candles was in my old neighborhood in Minneapolis.
This recipe comes together very quickly and easily. Chop 1/2 of a medium onion into thin, half round strips and finely chop up 1 clove of garlic.
You have a couple of options for roasting the peppers. I roast mine out on the gas BBQ grill. Put the peppers right on the grate over a fairly high flame and char them until they are good and blackened all over.
If it’s freezing or snowing where you live or you don’t have a grill, you can roast peppers in the kitchen over the flame of a gas stove or under the broiler in the oven. Turn them often as they cook so that the skin gets nice and black and bubbly all over. This should take about 10 minutes depending on the heat of your grill, flame, or broiler.
When the peppers are roasted and black, pop them into a plastic zip lock bag and seal it up to lock in the steam. You can also put the peppers in a bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let the peppers sit and steam for at least 10 minutes to help loosen the blackened skin from the flesh of the roasted pepper.
When the peppers have steamed and are cool enough to touch, gently scrape the outer black skin off with your fingers or with the side of a small knife.
You can see that I’ve opted for plastic gloves. Although poplanos aren’t terribly hot, working with them or with other peppers tends to make my fingers a little raw and tingly. Not exactly a good combination for flute playing. If you wear contacts, don’t even think about cutting peppers and touching your eyes. Cheapo disposable gloves from the drug store worked great!
Another good tip for removing the skin is to gently rub it off with a paper towel. PLEASE don’t run the peppers under water to remove the skin. There is flavor there that you don’t want to wash away.
Once you’ve removed most of the outer black skin, cut off the stem, cut open the pepper, and scrape away the seeds. Cut each roasted pepper into long, thin strips.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan over medium high heat. Cook the onion until it is soft and just slightly browned.
Add the strips of roasted pepper and the finely chopped garlic to the pan. Season with a pinch of salt, a pinch of oregano, and some freshly ground black pepper.
Add 1/2 cup of Mexican Crema and bring the pan to a simmer. Gently stir the peppers and onions into the crema, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for about 3-5 minutes or until thick and creamy.
These peppers are rich, silky, and delicious. The recipe said it made enough for 8 tacos, but who are they kidding? I would say that 3 peppers cook down to serve 2 people.
Pile them into a warm tortilla. You might want to add some fresh tomatoes, pico, or salsa for a little extra punch.
Poblanos are one of my favorite peppers because they have much more flavor than heat. This was my first try roasting them for tacos and I’m definitely hooked!
Here’s the recipe – Adapted from Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales by Roberto Santibanez