…why bland is the new yucky.
I might need to break up with green bell peppers. They have become bossy, bland contrarians in my otherwise happy kitchen.
To be clear, I’m not ditching red or yellow or orange bells; they may stay. But with all the other fun green choices so readily available – hatch, Anaheim, pepperocini, poblano, etc. – common bells have become a bit of a bummer. They manage to be simultaneously yucky and bland. Sometimes they take over with aggressive, unripe grassy-ness while other times they simply vanish into the meal having contributed nothing at all. They look so delicious in the market, all vibrant and shiny, lined up in perfect little rows, and I fall for it every time. It’s like the disappointment of biting into a warm chocolate chip cookie only to be surprised by a mouthful of raisins. Okay, there’s nothing wrong with raisins…unless you were expecting impish little nugs of semi-sweet bliss. Which I pretty much always am.
My tastes haven’t changed, but my standards have. Recently I reasserted high expectations and I guess I expected everybody would keep up. But not you, green bell; you’ve become a lazy companion and it’s simply not in your DNA to evolve. You, too, taste like disappointment.
Since I was on the rebound this week, I courted some perky poblanos to stuff with chorizo and chayote. Chorizo, specifically Mexican chorizo, is a spicy ground pork sausage seasoned with vinegar and chile peppers. Chayote (which is delightfully pronounced like coyote with a “ch”) is considered a firm squash, and like squash, is technically a fruit. It has a mild flavor and is often described as a cross between a cucumber and a potato. I really just like to say the name.
This recipe is remarkably more interesting and flavorful than green bell peppers stuffed with ground beef and rice slathered in tomato sauce. In fact, it is so superior that I shan’t waste a snazzy metaphor here. You are just going to have to trust me.
Poblanos Stuffed with Chorizo and Chayote
- 4 large poblano chiles, fresh
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 pound raw chorizo sausage
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 chayote, seeded and diced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup queso Oaxaca (or shredded Monterey Jack)
Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil on the top rack until the skins begin to blister and slightly blacken. Alternatively, you can char the peppers on a grill. Flip peppers several times to blister all sides. Turn off broiler and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the peppers to a covered bowl or closed paper bag for about 15 minutes to loosen the skin. Once cooked, gently peel off the charred skin being careful not to tear the flesh.
Make a vertical slit in each pepper just wide enough to remove the seeds and the larger membrane threads. This is all a little easier when done under running water. Pat the peppers dry.
Heat a tsp of oil in a large high-sided skillet or Dutch oven set to medium-high. Crumble in the chorizo, breaking it up as you sauté for about 5-7 minutes. Move the cooked sausage to the sides and add the onion, chayote and garlic into the center where the oil has pooled. Sear the vegetables for 3-5 minutes, season with salt and mix thoroughly into the sausage. Reduce the heat to medium and cook covered for about 15 minutes. The doneness test is the chayote – when they are slightly softened you are good to go. Remove from heat to cool.
Gently open the prepared poblanos and fill each with 1/4 of the chorizo mixture (it will be quite full) and then fold up the sides to create a nest. Grease a 13X9 baking dish and carefully place the filled chiles side by side. Sprinkle each pepper generously with cheese and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.
Bonus: I zizzed up the plate with a little corn:
Easy, Colorful Mexican Street Corn
- 1 Tbs oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 ears of fresh corn
- 3-4 Tbs chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup Crema Mexicana
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 Tbs lime juice
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
On medium high, sauté onion and red bell pepper in oil. Cut the kernels from corn and add to veggies, slightly increasing the heat. Stir constantly to sear, about 8 minutes. You want the corn to brown on the edges. Again, you can grill the corn and then add charred kernels to the veggies. Make a sauce with Crema Mexicana, chili powder, lime juice, salt and chopped cilantro. Toss and top with queso fresco – serve warm or cool.