Corn Risotto-Stuffed Poblanos

One of my fabulous Christmas gifts was the new cookbook from one of my favorite food bloggers, Deb Perlman at Smitten Kitchen. Only problem is, I hadn’t actually gotten around to using this delightful gift.

For shame!

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Enter stuffed poblano peppers. Amidst a couple hundred pages of gorgeous pictures, these appetizers jumped out to me. I served them with make-your-own nachos for an Easter egg decorating party.

The peppers are charred and peeled, and then stuffed with a nontraditional risotto that’s just different enough to work. The salty-sweet filling — beer, corn, cheese, and cilantro — cuts the spice of the peppers.

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Be careful when handling the peppers. Carefully remove the seeds, and remember not to touch your face. Wear gloves if you’re particularly sensitive.

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Corn Risotto-Stuffed Poblanos

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perlman

Yield: 3 main dish servings or 6 appetizer servings

6 large poblano peppers
4 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbs olive oil, plus a little more
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio or other short-grained rice
1/2 cup beer, light or medium in color
1 cup fresh corn kernels or frozen, defrosted kernels
1 1/2 oz Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c crumbled queso fresco (substitute ricotta salata, feta, or other crumbly cheese)
2 Tbs sour cream mixed with 2 tsp milk and a pinch of salt
2 Tbs chopped cilantro

Preheat a grill or broiler. Lightly brush clean, dry chilies with oil. Place the chilies 3-4 inches under the broiler or over the hottest part of the fire. Allow the peppers to char to black in spots, turning as necessary to char all surfaces. Remove and place in a heatproof bowl. Cover with a plate or lid for 5 minutes. (Do not leave covered for longer, or the peppers will continue to cook in their own steam.)

Remove the bowl cover and allow the peppers to cool to room temperature. Slip off the skins. Using your finger or a knife, open one side and remove seeds and membranes. Keep the stems intact.

In a 1 1/2 quart saucepan, heat the stock to a low simmer. On a separate burner, heat a larger saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add oil and heat through; add onion and saute until softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir for a minute or two until it becomes lightly toasty. Pour in the beer, scraping up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the beer simmer for roughly a minute; it will mostly disappear.

Ladle 1 cup of warm stock into rice, and simmer until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing stock to flly absorb before adding more and stirring often. With the final addition of stock, add the corn. The total cooking time is about 30 minutes. The risotto should be creamy and tender, and a little bit thicker than a standard risotto. Stir in the cheese, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Remove risotto from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fill each pepper with risotto and arrange tightly in a baking dish. Sprinkle with queso fresco. Bake for 10-15 minutes until bronzed on top.

In a small dish, whisk together sour cream, milk and salt. Drizzle over hot chiles. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot.

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