Monday, March 10, 2014

corn risotto-stuffed poblanos.

I've been on a bit of a decluttering frenzy over the past couple of weeks.  Cabinets that I have not seen the back of in months solely because they are filled to the brim with half-finished bags of 6 different types of rice are finally seeing the light of day.  I'm trying to teach myself to use the items I have on hand instead of procuring new items all the time.  It's going to take me awhile to have such behavior feel instinctual but eventually I'll get there.  

This recipe was finally tackled after I realized that I had 5/6 of the ingredients on hand, it would help me finish some of my almost empty bags of rice, and in making it I could finally cross it off my list of recipes I have to try where it has been languishing for over a year now (in my defense it's a very long list that is ever expanding).  This is exactly the kind of thing you should be making right now when we are in the throws of March and that weird in-between time where it isn't quite winter and it isn't quite spring.  It's fresh tasting (corn! peppers! cilantro!) yet the kind of thing your body gravitates towards this time of year (namely starchy comfort food with some cheese thrown in for good measure).  It's incredibly satisfying and utterly filling for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike and did I mention it reheats brilliantly? It does which is why the leftovers make the perfect next day lunch. If you're smarter then me you wont wait a year to make this.  

Corn Risotto-Stuffed Poblanos
Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

This is the kind of the thing that begs to be made on a Sunday afternoon.  You have dinner for that evening and enough leftovers for lunch the next day!

Serves 4 generously (This also halves easily.) 

8 large fresh poblano peppers
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups short-grained rice, such as arborio or carnaroli
¾ cup beer, preferably light or medium in color
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 large size cobs or you can use frozen corn as I did)
¾ - 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
½ teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ cup crumbled queso fresco, ricotta salata, or another crumbly cheese
3 tablespoons sour cream mixed with 1 Tablespoon milk and a pinch of salt, for serving
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Prepare peppers: Lay several chiles at a time on their sides on the racks atop a gas burner, and turn the flame to high.  Using tongs, rotate the chiles frequently until their skins are blistered, about 4 to 6 minutes each. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, and cover them with foil or plastic wrap.  Repeat with the remaining chiles. Should you not have a gas burner, you can do this under a broiler. Or you can skip this step altogether if the pepper skins don't bother you.

Make risotto: In a medium saucepan, heat the stock to a low simmer.  On a separate burner, heat a larger saucepan over medium heat.  Once the saucepan is hot, add the oil and heat through; then add the onion, and saut√© until it is softened and translucent, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the rice to the pot, and stir it for a minute or two, until it becomes slightly toasty.  Pour in the beer, scraping up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan.  Let beer simmer for roughly a minute -- it will mostly disappear.

Ladle 1 cup of warm stock into rice mixture, and simmer until it has been absorbed, stirring frequently.  Add the remaining stock, ½ cup at a time, allowing stock to absorb before adding more, and stirring often.  Along with the final addition of stock, add the corn. The total cooking time for the rice is about 30 minutes, after which it should be creamy and tender.  Though risotto is traditionally supposed to be on the loose side, you can leave this one ever-so-slightly thicker, so it can be easily stuffed into peppers.  Once the stock is added and the risotto is tender, stir in the Monterey Jack cheese, the salt, many grinds of black pepper, the paprika, and the chile powder.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Remove risotto from the heat.

Assemble and cook poblanos: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Remove chiles from bowl, and gently (very carefully my peppers were very tender) rub off the skins, which should now remove easily.  Cut a slit lengthwise in each chile, and remove the seeds and membranes as best you can.  Leave the stems on -- they're cute.  Fill each chile with risotto through the slit.  Arrange the chiles tightly in a baking dish, and sprinkle with crumbled cheese.  Bake the chiles for 10 to 15 minutes, until bronzed a bit on top.

To serve: In a small dish, whisk together the sour cream mixed with milk and salt.  Drizzle the mixture over hot chiles.  Garnish with cilantro.  Eat them while they're hot.

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