True Confessions of a Mid-Life Cook

There's a definite correlation between my profound love of music and how and what I've taught myself to cook. My favorite music to listen to and to perform is soulful, sensual, sometimes funky and always bluesy in nature . . . and that's exactly how I cook. I like to get my hands in the food. I chop, I knead, I stir with my hands. Sometimes I wear my big rimmed cowboy hat, nightie and Old Gringo boots in kitchen, sometimes a coonskin cap when the mood strikes and sometimes just an apron and a smile. Using the freshest of ingredients, I love to bringing a new spirit to old favorites. I am so to drawn dishes seeping in both Texas and Southern tradition,with a special affinity for those authentic old jewels found in South Louisiana.
Because they, too, are so powerfully soulful?

I've discovered being a good cook is a journey and not a destination. (Yes, I stole an over-used corporate slogan and made it my own--but it's still the truth) Every time we screw up, we learn. And in part, that's what this blog is about. Cooking fearlessly. With heart, with soul -- and with some damn good music to inspire. (If your three layer chocolate cake ends up looking like a Jerry Springer rerun or you cut the tip of your thumb off while making New Year's Day gumbo, WHO CARES?Proclaim Francine Reed's "I'm a Handful" your theme song. She would like that.)
We cook because we find ourselves kinda empty if we don't.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stuff It - The Versatile Poblano

The poblano is a relatively mild chili pepper originating in the State of Puebla, Mexico. Dried it is called an ancho chile.  I adore poblanos because they're so versatile. From the classic chile rellenos, to the decadent mole poblano sauce, to my personal favorite, stuffed and baked poblanos. 

I stuff these peppers with anything I have on hand in the kitchen, and that's the beauty of it.  Healthy, low in fat and calories and absolutely delicious.

Today I'm stuffing them with shredded chicken and black beans. This example will  give you an idea of what can be done with the poblano.

Plump hen, cooked over night in crock pot.  Fill crock pot half full with water. Rub bird with olive oil and season with sea salt, black pepper, cumin powder and garlic and add a little of each of the seasoning to the water. Turn on low and forget about it.
6-8 poblano peppers
1 onion and one large bulb onion finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 zucchini diced
1 or 2 jalapenos, chopped fine (seed them if you can't stand the heat)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
About 7 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 can Bushes black beans, drained well
1/2 cup frozen corn, heated in microwave and drained
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 Tablespoon minced cilantro
salt, black pepper, chili powder and cumin powder to taste 

Heat oven to 400.
Place the poblanos in 400 degree oven for 15-17 minutes.
Take out and let cool while preparing the stuffing.

De-bone chicken and reserve broth.
Shred chicken with fork, set aside.
In a med skillet on med heat, add about 2 tablespoons butter then add onion, zucchini, jalapenos and garlic and saute 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to warm and cheese is melted.  Add a little of the reserved chicken stock if the mixture appears dry. (Freeze this delicious stock to use later.)

Chop off the top of each poblano (like a pumpkin) discard the 'lids.' Seed and rib the peppers.  Stuff with mixture, and place on greased cookie sheet or shallow baking pan in 400 degree oven for ten minutes until heated through.

At this point you can add additional cheese to top of the peppers and then broil for another 3 minutes if you want.

Today I think I'm going to make sauce by adding  1 avocado, a little cilantro, lite sour cream a pinch of sea salt. granulated garlic and a little buttermilk  in a food processor, adjusting ingredients to reach the right consistency. Spoon generously over peppers just before serving.  The tang of the buttermilk and sour cream works beautifully with the baked poblanos.

You can see that the stuffing possibilities are endless, can't you!  Shrimp, chorizo, rice, shredded beef, andouille . . .

Today I'm preparing this dish in honor of my absolute favorite Alamo guy Davy Crockett. According to my cousin's post on FB this morning, this is what was going on at the mission in 1836:

February 28: San Antonio de Bexar is tense but calm and quiet. Inside the Alamo, Davy Crockett (violin) challenges John McGregor (bagpipes, of all things) to a musical duel.

AND the man played the  . . .um, fiddle.  How hot is that??

learn more:

Suggested listening:  'Wayfaring Stranger' early Allison Krauss (age 16!)- Legend has it that Davy Crockett played this fiddle tune at the Alamo. (Link below.)

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