This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.
BARRY: For many years, my experience with Mexican cuisine was greatly influenced by what we've had available locally, which is to say chain restaurants and El Paso products from the supermarket. That meant tacos, tostadas and enchiladas and more melted cheese over chips with a salsa dip than I care to think about.
Only in recent years, as the quantity and quality of Mexican dining options increased, have I discovered new dishes. More importantly, I've learned that a taco is not supposed to taste like a tostada or an enchilada. There are many wonderful Mexican dishes, and this recipe for chile poblanos is one of them.
We ended up trying out a new recipe because Kelley was challenged to make a big pot of vegetarian chili to send off to college for our youngest child. As often happens with meals in our house, the first request rarely makes it to the table, or at least not without some major changes.
KELLEY: When I started making the chili, my tastebuds began calling my name for that hot cumin flavor I crave so often. Anytime we go to a Mexican restaurant, I always order a chile poblano as my entree or a side. Some places do better than others in the preparation of the dish. I'm not convinced I've had the ultimate one yet, so I'm still looking.
We prepared our batter a little differently than what I've tasted at many restaurants, which use egg whites. I chose not to use the whites. Still, it was very tasty, and I would certainly do it again. We also went veggie heavy on the stuffing, and I did enjoy that instead of all cheese or meat.
BARRY: They were really tasty. Kelley actually did two varieties, one with a thicker batter.
KELLEY: The thicker batter resulted when I dipped the second version twice, but I didn't like it.
BARRY: The first one was lighter and let the poblano flavor come through. We talked about what else to add to the stuffing mix and decided ahead of time to simply use what the recipe called for. The poblano has a really nice flavor if you leave it alone.
KELLEY: I would try using the egg whites next time. However, these were pretty tasty. The down side of this meal is that Barry and I both wish we had cooked a couple more. They ended up being a little lighter than we thought. I suppose that is due to the fact we didn't have the rice and beans that usually come with the dish in a restaurant.
BARRY: We didn't gorge ourselves on chips and salsa either.
For the batter:
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 tablespoon salt
1 (12-ounce) beer (we used Corona)
For the peppers:
6 poblano peppers, roasted and skin removed
1 tablespoon butter
1 ear fresh corn, kernels cut from the cob
1/2 zucchini squash, diced
1/4 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 green onion, sliced (green part only)
11/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons Philadelphia brand cooking cream, Santa Fe Blend
Freshly ground black pepper
Oil for frying
Combine 1 cup flour, baking powder, salt and beer. Stir to well blended. Refrigerate for one hour.
Melt butter in skillet and add corn, squash and yellow onion. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool. Once cooled, add green onion, cheese, cooking cream and pepper.
Stir to combine. Make slit in peppers and stuff about 2-3 spoons of cheese into pepper. Close and secure with a toothpick as best you can. Some peppers hold up better than others.
When ready to cook, heat oil about 1-2 inches deep in cast-iron skillet or your own personal favorite cooking vessel. Take the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and season with pepper. We added 11/2 tablespoons Alchemy Southwestern blend spice mixture. Take one pepper at a time and coat all sides well, then place in hot oil and cook turning until nicely browned and crisp. Peppers should only take about 2-3 minutes to cook. Remove and place in warm oven until all are cooked.
To serve: We placed store-bought green chile salsa around the base of the plate along with a Jarred Salsa Chile De Arbol on top of the peppers. We also added some finely crushed taco chips and cilantro for extra crunch and flavor.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...