Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Cajun Seasoning

I recently got an email from Lindsey, who handles social media at Kernel Seasons.* You've probably seen these little shakers at the movie theater--they have all sorts of flavors for seasoning your popcorn. Lindsey said she had read my blog and bookmarked some recipes, and she asked whether I might be interested in developing some recipes using some of the available seasonings. It sounded like a lot of fun to me, so I asked to have a couple of kinds sent. This is the first recipe I developed, loosely inspired by my stuffed tomato recipe, which you can find here. The biggest different with this recipe is I wanted to go for some heat, and use the Kernel Seasons Cajun powder to do it.

You will need:

8 poblano peppers (choose some that are more puffed out, for easier stuffing)**
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 green jalapeno or 2 red jalapeno peppers, chopped into small pieces
1 cup long grain white rice
1 cup water
2 cans tomato sauce, 15oz each
1/4 tsp Kernel Seasons Cajun powder
1 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 tsp whole thyme leaves
1 lb ground turkey, crumbled
1 package queso fresco (about 4oz), crumbled

chef's knife
cutting board
measuring cups and spoons
a large pan or wok
wooden spoon
small mixing bowl
nonstick cooking spray
large baking dish (you might lay out your raw poblanos to make sure they all fit)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Put the onions, green or red jalapenos, and rice in a pan with the oil and heat on high. As an aside, I've made this recipe twice now, once with red jalapenos, and once with a green. I used to be such a fan of heat in food that I would put a chopped up a habanero in my grilled cheese sandwiches. I have since lost all tolerance for spicy food and am a complete wuss--hence, I preferred the recipe with the red chilis (AKA red jalapeno peppers) which are milder. I also removed the seeds in both recipes. This part of the recipe really is a matter of taste. Leave the seeds, use five jalapenos, do whatever you prefer and your taste buds can handle. The next time I make the recipe, I'll use red chilis if I can find them, and I'll leave the seeds out.

Anyway, heat the onions, chilis, and rice, stirring frequently, until the rice starts to brown. When it does, add the water and allow to cook without stirring until most of the water is absorbed. If you're not sure, run a wooden spoon through the mixture--do you see water? Leave it alone a while longer. Also listen to it--if the sizzling starts to sound serious, the water is gone and you need to act quickly. Before that point, mix the Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and thyme into the tomato sauce. I do this regardless of whether the sauce is already seasoned. Don't add salt--the tomato sauce and the Cajun seasoning both already have it.

When the rice had absorbed the water, add half the tomato sauce and stir, turning the heat down to medium low. Allow to simmer for five more minutes, and add the ground turkey. Cook for fifteen minutes.

Add the queso fresco. The cool thing about queso fresco is that it doesn't melt. You can stir it into your stuffing mixture and it will not gunk up your pan.

Spray your baking dish with nonstick cooking spray--you'll thank me later. For some reason this recipe is especially splattery.

Pour the remaining tomato sauce into your baking dish.

Cut the tops off of the poblanos. Poblanos often have indented tops--you don't want to waste any peppery goodness, so cut just enough to be able to pull the insides out. Clean out the seeds.

Using the end of your wooden spoon to push the stuffing into the tips of the poblanos, stuff your peppers. Put them in your baking dish. (See the note below about leftover stuffing.) Bake for 25 minutes, but check your peppers to be sure they are done, since your oven may differ from mine. You want the skin of the poblano to be visibly darkening in spots.

Enjoy! Serves 8.
* Note: Kernel Seasons sent me free powders, but is not paying me to endorse their product.
** I actually did the recipe with four and saved the leftover stuffing for burritos. It was yummy. If you decide to reserve some stuffing for later or you find that you have some leftover for whatever reason, continue cooking it in its pan for another 25 minutes. Add a little water if necessary to keep it moist. You can refrigerate it once cool for no more than two days, or freeze it for two months. To reheat in burritos, just put some stuffing on a tortilla and reheat in the microwave--2 minutes on 80% power, then 20 seconds on high. And if you put a little piece of wet paper towel in the microwave with the plate it keeps things moist.
If you try one of my recipes, please comment and let me know how it turned out!