Background, or “A few notes on why the ice cream is on fire”
My wife is a fantastic cook. She is constantly finding new recipes to try, and the majority of them work out very well. She is very much a by-the-book sort of chef, whereas I tend to forget we have books periodically and approach cooking much like some approach divine intervention. I open the fridge and pantry doors wide, take in the bounty before me, and wait for inspiration to strike. Sometimes this is successful, sometimes not[i]. Often, my eventual creation is not a planned affair, but a gradual (d)evolution from an original idea[ii] to a final product[iii]. The only[iv] problem is that since my “recipes” are cobbled together and based almost entirely on judgement calls[v], I have a hard time recreating them. The up side is that I will rarely serve you the same dish twice. Case in point: about 6 PM yesterday this would have been a post about barbeque chicken. By the end of dinner, it was stuffed poblanos with pulled chicken and salsa verde. So, I present to you the cautionary tale of Poblanos Boweros[vi].
Inspiration, or “Viva la Evolucion![vii]”
My original inspiration[viii] for dinner was to do simple BBQ chicken with some cornbread and slaw. When I got to the market, the poblanos looked really good[ix]. By the end of the aisles, the dish had transitioned into a vague idea about pulled chicken stuffed peppers.
The tempters: Camera phone picture aside, these were damn sexy peppers in the store. And you have to be a pretty convincing pepper to sway a man from BBQ in Texas.
Getting Down to Business
The first step was to have a beer[x].
Blood-red rye ale called Werewolf. Apt in that it tasted vaguely of a combination of ale + canine.
The second step was preparing the poblanos. I figured whatever else I did, I could go ahead and soften up four good sized poblanos a little in the oven at 350.
After handling raw peppers, make sure to rub your eyes and other sensitive membranes vigorously and frequently. It will give you an excuse for the inevitable tears of failure.
The third step, was “everything else.” I consulted a couple unrelated recipes about the best way to do pulled chicken[xi], southwest pepper stuffing, etc. and started cobbling together the pepper mix.
The chicken (three good sized breasts was overkill) goes in a big stock pot with a chopped up onion (big pieces, not diced too small), a couple cloves of garlic, spices (a couple shakes of ancho pepper, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, etc.), a little hot sauce, and just enough water to cover. I simmered this about 15-20 minutes.
Rachel Ray turned out to be right on this one. Damn her smarmy hide.
While the chicken was cooking, I got the Texmati rice. When it was done, I guesstimated the amount of the completed rice necessary to fill about ¾ of the internal pepper capacity. I then mixed in about half a can of the black beans, “enough” cheddar cheese to make the rice less boring, and about a cup or so of the salsa verde.
Screw the peppers, I’m gonna just eat this out of the bowl…
When the chicken was done and drained, I got it pulled[xii], and added it to the rice mixture. I added a little more cheese, and then stuffed the peppers, which by then were nice and soft from the oven, but still maintained structural integrity. More cheddar cheese on top, along with a couple dollops of the salsa verde, and it all went into the oven for about 10-15 more minutes.
An alternate method for pulled chicken is to pack it around a small amount of high explosive. I did not say it was a good alternative, but even scraping chicken shrapnel from walls can’t be as annoying as shredding it with forks.
The Reveal, or, “well….we have a frozen pizza, I guess.”
Voila, Poblanos Boweros. Add sour cream, festoon with cilantro, and get another beer. Serves four.
The final step is wistfully looking at the somewhat unappetizing final product, with the bittersweet realization that you have four awesome Mexican restaurants within a half mile.
[i] Ask my wife about the Valentines meal that involved fish with a strawberry/champagne sauce served over pieces of avocado cut into hearts. Plated very well. Tasted….less well. We eat out for Valentine’s these days….
[ii] Often along the lines of “Hungry. Food good. Cook nearest food. Yum.”
[iii] This is where my wife and I complement each other. Cooking for a dinner party with no room for error? You want my wife. Got three random ingredients, a monkeywrench and some hot sauce? I’m your man. I’m like Iron Chef MacGyver.
[iv] Well, only problem relating to this approach OTHER THAN potential inedibility/food poisoning/blasphemy against all that is culinary-ly holy.
[v] In a standard recipe, one or two minor ingredients may include quantity descriptions like “season to taste”. Mine are almost solely based on this principle. “Enough” is a favorite unit of measurement to me.
[vi] Please excuse the slapdash photography. Most food bloggers spend a ridiculous amount of time setting up nice natural light pictures. There is nothing pretty about my cooking process, so no pearls on swine here. Straight up blurry phone pictures.
[vii] It is better to go burn the meal on your feet, then to live a lifetime on your knees….of recipes….?.ok that joke didn’t work.
[viii] Read: Realizing “Oh crap, I have to cook tonight” on my way home.
[ix] I’m a sucker for poblanos. They’re just exotic enough to a northern NY’er to maintain a mystique, and just spicy enough to be better for stuffing than Bells, but without the internal payback misery of more spicy varieties.
[x] I cannot emphasize how important this step is. It is almost universal among all my recipes. Which may explain some of my recipes. IN this case, the beer was the somewhat disappointing Newcastle Werewolf.
[xi] With a begrudging thanks to Rachel Ray.
[xii] The proper technique involves shredding against the grain and cursing vociferously. To taste.