chiles rellenos with butternut squash, caramelized onions and spinach
Tomme de Savoie is an fairly non-assertive though earthy, firm cheese from France. 'Tomme' is the generic term for 'wheel of cheese' in French, 'de Savoie' denotes the region from which it comes to this recipe. The rind is a lovely grayish color with a rough texture, and it melts really well. I love it for the subtle earthiness that it lends to these rellenos, though another flavorful cheese that melts well would work too. —fo
1) preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a cast iron pan inside; halve and seed the squash, rub the cut side with olive oil, and place in the hot pan, skin side down. roast until soft when pierced.
2) meanwhile, slice the onions thinly and add them to a cast iron pan with a little olive oil. caramelize.
3) while the onions are caramelizing, roast the poblano peppers over an open flame, turning until completely charred on all sides. transfer the charred peppers to a paper bag and seal it up so that the peppers steam.
4) when the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them and remove all of the seeds. try to work through a single naturally occurring slit in the pepper, and avoid making more. the goal is to try to keep the pepper as in tact as possible. as well, try not to rinse the peppers, doing such will cost flavor. it's ok if some of the char is still adherent to the pepper, it adds to the rusticity of the dish. if you must rinse, charge it swiftly under the water to remove some of the seeds, being careful not to unnecessarily rinse away the juices. set aside.
5) when the squash is cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh into a bowl. then chop the caramelized onions up a bit and add them to the bowl as well.
6) heat a pan and add your rinsed spinach with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. not too much. it is easy to over-salt greens in this way. cook till wilted, then transfer to a mesh strainer and press on the spinach to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. chop and add to the squash mixture.
7) course chop a good handful of cilantro leaves and add to the squash mixture as well. stir this all together, season with salt. set aside.
8) cut the tomme de savoie into slivers and set aside.
9) working with one pepper at a time: carefully open a pepper at the largest slit that naturally occurred with roasting. stuff half-full with the squash mixture, then layer in a bit of the slivered tomme, top with more of the squash mixture. nestle a couple of slivers into the top of the squash mixture and repeat the process with the rest of the peppers.
10) prepare a steaming system. i used a copper pot fitted with a steaming basket. you might have bamboo. use whatever you have.
11) when the water comes to a boil, layer the peppers in a single layer on the basket, cover and steam until hot in the center. you can test by inserting a thin blade and touching it to the backside of your hand quickly. when the blade is hot, the peppers are done.
12) plate and sprinkle with the chopped, roasted almonds; omit the almonds for those who have nut allergies. they will be just as good.
13) these peppers would be wonderful served with mexican crema or creme fraiche. and finally, they are delicious made with no dairy at all, cheese or otherwise.
I write. I cook. I want A&M's job! Just kidding. No, I'm not. I used to be a professional chef, and while I no longer want to be in a professional kitchen, I could never stop cooking. How cliche that I write and cook, nonetheless, the two marry quite happily and blogging fulfills both of those passions for me with an immediacy that I crave. I would love some day to do it full-time.
I have two blogs at the moment, and I'm developing a third.
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