Back in my pregan days, my favorite thing to order at a Mexican restaurant was chile rellenos. Cheezy, deep-fried goodness, mmmm. When I saw some poblano peppers at the farmer's market the other week, I impulsively bought them, figuring someone must have come up with a veganized recipe for chile rellenos by now. I was right. Google "vegan chile rellenos" and you will come up with many recipe options. What I hadn't counted on, though, was that veganized chile rellenos are approximately as bad for you as the cow variety. They're still deep-fried, after all, and while delicious, Daiya cheese is not exactly health food. I needed to come up with something else to do with the poblanos.
Just about every recipe that doesn't call for stuffing poblanos says to roast them (actually, several recipes call for roasting and then stuffing, which sounds like a frustrating mess when I consider how soft and juicy the peppers get when roasted). I decided to roast the peppers first and ask questions later. It occurred to me that I might even be able to use roasted poblanos in place of New Mexico green chile. Heresy, I know, but I thought that with my unsophisticated chile-eating palate it just might work.
Step One: Buy some poblanos at the farmer's market. Wash the dirt off them. Put them on your cutting board and take a picture for your blog.
I don't know whether the red ones taste different from the green ones, since in the end (spoiler alert!) I chopped them all up together. I should keep them separate next time, just to see.
Step 2: Roast the poblanos. I followed Irreverent Vegan's advice and roasted them in the toaster oven on the highest setting. I put the oven rack up as close to the top heating element as it would go, and covered it with foil so the peppers wouldn't drip everywhere. When the peppers were blackened and blistered on one side, I turned them with tongs so the other side faced the heat. The whole process took about half an hour. When the peppers came out of the oven, they smelled smoky and wonderful.
|The peppers when they came out of the oven. Look how shrivelly!|
When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them with your fingers.. In my opinion, the most important thing about this step is to WEAR GLOVES. I've had some unfortunate pepper-related incidents in the past and was being extra careful. I used vinyl exam gloves I bought in the first aid aisle at the drugstore. I also did everything on a plastic cutting board, as I wanted to be able to put it in the dishwasher when I was finished.
|If you're lucky, the skin comes off in big sheets.|
|After peeling, split the pepper and remove the seeds.|
|Peeled peppers, ready for chopping.|
|I used my big chef's knife to chop them fine.|
Poblano peppers are mild, but I still got some major hits of pepper fumes in my eyes and lungs. I was coughing and my nose was streaming. It's important to have a sous chef nearby to help you wipe your nose, since you don't want to touch any mucous membranes with your peppery hands. If you're lucky, your photographer will help with this.
A final word of advice -- make sure you have all your equipment, including your storage container, set up on the counter before you start. I didn't do this, and again had to appeal to my photographer (aka my patient and long-suffering girlfriend) for help.
Tune in next time, when I will actually use the peppers to make delicious food!