Stuffed poblano peppers

I am not Bobby Flay. I am not conversant with 8,391 different kinds of chili peppers. I can barely distinguish five, those being your average green or red pepper, banana peppers, jalapenos, Scotch bonnets and my favorite on the pepper hit parade, poblanos.

And so far, I have determined that if you can get along with those five kinds of fresh peppers you pretty much have the pepper landscape covered.  One of the great things about poblanos is that they’re the Jokers of the pepper world. You know a green or red pepper will be mild and the banana pepper just slightly spicy. On the other end of the spectrum, jalapenos and Scotch bonnets will always be hot. But the poblanos fool you. One batch will provide a nicely pleasant bit of heat on the back of the palate. The next batch will blow your head off. I like surprises.

There are many reasons why a gas stove is superior to an electric one, and roasting chilies is at the top of the list. You can roast chilies under the broiler to get that nice black skin you peel off to reveal the tender pepper below. But holding their feet to the fire works so much better. It took a few tries to figure out that I needed to take the burner rack off the stove first. Actually, I know Mark will post a snide comment on this so I’ll admit he figured it out first.

This recipe is the kissing cousin of a chili relleno, the utterly delicious cheese-stuffed fried peppers you get in Mexican restaurants. I try to tell myself it is healthier because it is baked and not fried. And it marginally is. But when you use Mexican chorizo and Mexican melting cheese in the stuffing, well, I cannot pretend that these peppers are good for you. Brown rice? Doesn’t that count? No, not really.

So, here we are. The beautiful result. You will notice that I tried two red poblanos and two green from the farmer’s market. I reasoned, ahead of time, that the red might be sweeter and milder. But here’s where the Joker showed his fickle face. They were both nuclear. In a good way. But really, really hot. As I said, I love surprises. Just takes a little more wine to cool the palate.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

12 ounces Mexican chorizo

1 small onion, diced

1 10-ounce package frozen brown rice

1 7-ounce can of white corn

1 cup shredded Mexican melting cheese

4 large poblano peppers

Cilantro

Remove chorizo from casing and fry over medium heat until brown and crumbly. Remove sausage from skillet and add onion, browning it in the sausage grease.

Microwave rice according to the package directions. Combine chorizo, onion, rice, corn and melting cheese.

Roast peppers until skin blackens, either under the broiler or on the gas flame of your stove. Remove blackened skin and remove seeds. Stuff with chorizo and rice mixture and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.

I need to say a word about cilantro here. Some people love it (me) and some people hate it. If you hate it, don’t use it. Do I really need to tell you that?

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