Stuffed peppers, yawn…the old fashioned dish I was sure to try to miss in my Mom’s kitchen. Green peppers stuffed with a mixture of hamburger meat and rice, covered in tomato sauce and baked. Not something we tend to crave, but toward the end of summer when the garden is swimming knee deep in peppers, it’s the poblano that puts a new spin on this tired old dish.
Poblano peppers are the just right heat inducing produce to make this recipe a winner, and the ingredients can go vegetarian or not. Here’s how I like to play with my poblanos.
The original version has the poblanos stuffed with a mixture of chop meat, rice, and corn or black beans. This time though, the dish was made to please the vegetarians in our house. Here’s the basic recipe:
6 large poblano peppers: seeds removed
Stuffing mixture: 1 can of black beans cooked with a few sauteed garlic cloves and 1/2 a chopped onion. 2 cups of cooked white rice. 1/2 lb. of cooked chop meat, or chorizo sausage, or Italian sausage. 1/2 tsp ground cumin if you’re not using spicy meat. 1 cup of shredded cheddar, and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese. If there is a leftover ear of corn in the fridge, this makes a nice addition too. If you are going for the vegetarian version, leave out the meat.
Make a basic Bechamel Sauce: Melt 1/2 stick unsalted butter in a saucepan, add 1/2 cup flour and stir over medium heat until it comes together. Add 1 cup of milk and continue to stir until it thickens. When it’s nice and thick but still runny enough (if it’s too thick, add a little more milk) to pour, add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg. Add half of the cheddar and parmesan making sure that the sauce is smooth and blended.
Method: Stuff the meat/rice mixture into the seeded peppers and place in a single layer in a baking dish. Cover with Bechamel sauce and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheddar and parmesan cheese. Bake on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
If you wind up with extra stuffing mixture, line the bottom of the baking dish with it. The sauce turns the entire dish into a gooey, cheesy, creamy, savory rice pudding kinda casserole with serious heat. Not so much heat that it isn’t enjoyable, but enough that you should beware of serving it to people who prefer a more bland diet.
Caveat…poblano peppers can be deceptively hot. Wear gloves or wash hands thoroughly when handling them.