Earthy poblano peppers are filled with cheese and sausage then baked into an eggy casserole for a comfort dinner spin on fried chile rellenos.
I have to admit that I don’t enjoy overly spicy food. There’s an expectation when you grow a vegetable garden and like to cook that you should love hot peppers. But generally, jalapenos or chipotles are as hot as I go. When I want some spice, jalapenos are my go-to pepper because they have just a bit of heat and they don’t overpower other flavors.
Of course, I also grow a few kinds of bell and Italian peppers, which pack no heat whatsoever and are versatile for a range of cooking. Despite their refreshing crunch and variety of colors, I find they are a bit bland at times. That’s why this year I am getting more into poblanos. They’re a good pepper to try if you want something mild but with more flavor than a bell pepper. They’re halfway in between a bell and a jalapeno.
Are poblano peppers spicy?
On the Scoville scale that measures the heat of peppers, poblanos are 1,000 – 1,500 compared to jalapenos that range from 2,500 – 8,000. To give some more context, bell peppers are a 0 on that scale while the hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper, is between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000. In other words, poblanos hardly register for their level of heat. Though, I’ve found that even on the same plant, the heat from one pepper to another may vary greatly. Occasionally you find a poblano that can have a little extra kick.
What's special about poblanos?
What I like about poblanos is that they’re thick-skinned, like bells, which makes them good for stuffing and roasting. Averaging about four inches long and two to three inches wide, they’re a decent size, too. But what sets them apart is that they have an earthy and slightly smoky flavor that makes them more interesting than other mild peppers. I also love the shades of purple, black, green, brown, and red they can range as they grow and ripen. They’re definitely an attractive plant to add to your garden.
Poblanos come from the state of Puebla, the fourth largest city in Mexico, where the residents are also referred to as Poblanos. The peppers are used both fresh and dried throughout the country and are one of the country’s most popular. The dry form is known as an ancho pepper, “ancho” meaning “wide” in Spanish. They develop an appealing smokiness as they dry that differs in flavor from the fresh.
Despite being thousands of miles north from Mexico, poblanos are growing phenomenally in my garden this year. That means I’m getting creative with how to use them. I plan to dry a bunch to have ancho peppers well into winter, but I’m cooking them fresh for now.
What are Chile Rellenos?
Perhaps the most common use for poblanos is in chiles rellenos. In Spanish, that means “stuffed peppers,” and it’s where poblanos are stuffed with cheese, coated in an egg batter and fried. Outside, the coating is crispy while inside the tender pepper, the cheese is wonderfully gooey.
Chiles rellenos are great for a party where guests can enjoy them as an appetizer. But for everyday home cooking, I wanted to make the dish more substantial and practical for dinner. And now that are evenings are cool, I have no problem turning the classic into an eggy baked casserole.
Turning the classic appetizer into a dinner
The poblanos quickly blacken under the broiler and then steam in a bowl as you prepare the rest of the recipe. This is a simple technique that allows for easy peeling of the peppers. Occasionally pepper skins are tough and difficult to digest, so it’s not a bad idea to peel them before eating. The process also makes the peppers soft and easy to use.
Next, the peppers line the bottom of a casserole dish. A blend of sausage and cheese goes over top, then the other pepper halves. You fille the dish with a milk and egg batter that includes both flour and cornmeal. I like the addition of cornmeal because it adds a little more flavor and interest that complements the poblanos nicely.
The resulting chile rellenos casserole mimics the elements of a traditional chile relleno. You get a stuffed poblano pepper that's coated and baked into eggs. It's the ideal turn of the season dinner for a warm day and cool evening.
Like stuffed vegetables? Check out my recipe for Simple Stuffed Zucchini.Print