You could say I have a thing for poblanos. I don’t even remember the first time I tried one, but I can tell you it was love at first bite. Until now, the recipes I’ve made using poblano peppers always required them to be chopped, pureed or otherwise mixed into something else. This recipe is the first I’ve made that uses poblanos in their whole form, and I am already thinking of what else I can stuff inside of them.
This dish is another one of those perfect summer meals. Corn and poblanos are plentiful at our farmers market and grocery stores, and this recipe allows both of them to shine. The corn risotto is good enough to eat on its own. It’s basically a Mexican version of risotto – beer instead of wine, Monterey Jack instead of Parmesan and cilantro instead of parsley. It’s thick enough to stuff the peppers, which also means it’s thick enough for Clara to eat from a spoon without getting it everywhere. Double win. The finished peppers are drizzled with a sour cream and lime concoction that will likely look familiar to you, and I thought it was the perfect thing to cool the spicy peppers down just a bit.
For the peppers:
8 large poblano peppers
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups arborio or other short-grained rice
¾ cup light-colored beer
1½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
For the crema:
3 tablespoons sour cream or Mexican crema
Juice of half a lime
Pinch of salt
Preheat broiler to high. Place poblanos on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil about 8 minutes, turning occasionally, until blackened. Alternately, roast over a gas flame set to high heat. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand until cool enough to touch.
Meanwhile, heat the broth to a low simmer in a small saucepan. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking an additional minute. Add the rice to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, until lightly toasted. Stir in the beer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for about 1 minute until the beer has mostly evaporated.
Ladle 1 cup of broth into the rice mixture and simmer, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. Add the remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, allowing it to absorb before adding more. Add the corn with the final addition of broth. The rice should cook for 25-30 minutes total, and it should be creamy and tender. Stir in the Monterey Jack, salt, a generous amount of pepper and 3 tablespoons of cilantro. Remove from heat.
Heat oven to 400º. Remove the skins from the peppers. Cut a slit lengthwise in each pepper, and remove the seeds and ribs. Fill each with risotto. Arrange on a baking dish and top with crumbled cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on top. You can also pop them under the broiler for a few minutes, which is what I did.
While the peppers are cooking, whisk together the sour cream, lime juice and salt in a small bowl. Drizzle over the cooked peppers and sprinkle the remaining cilantro on top.