By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director
The other evening I made an awesome dinner. I'll get into the meal later, because to me the interesting part happened with the leftovers the following morning. It was a meal that I assumed would be too "adult" for my son Henry, but I was proven oh-so-wrong.
The next morning I was looking through Cooking Light magazine and Henry stopped at every beautiful picture. (We don't receive any sponsorship from Cooking Light -- I just happen to have a new subscription.) And Henry loves the photos: "I want that," "Let's make that" and "Can I have that?" Second only to seeing Henry stuff his face with fresh spinach, seeing him cheering for photos of healthy food full of fresh, colorful veggies just warms my heart.
We then came to this photo:
To which Henry said, "I want that."
That's when the leftovers of my stuffed poblano pepper got pulled out, and he went at it. And I was reminded: Kids are impressionable. Share with them junk food, they will eat junk food. Share with them beautiful messages of good food, and they will eat good food. They really will.
As for the stuffed peppers, they were delicious -- smoky, slightly sweet from the fruit, a slight kick from the peppers. There was no real recipe; rather, it was more of a loose combination of two dishes that I've wanted to make but didn't have the ingredients nor inspiration to follow too closely. So my dish was sort of a Chiles en Nogada with an estofado sauce -- in other words, it was a stuffed poblano chili with a pepper tomato sauce rather than a walnut cream sauce. No name to this dish, just major deliciousness.
There were a lot of steps, but it wasn't difficult. Here it goes:
I made four peppers. Each pepper is deceptively filling, and very healthy.
5 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup of nuts (I used walnuts but you choose)
Two medium onions
3 cloves garlic
1/2 slice of bread
3 chillies (I used anchos rojos)
1/2 cup red wine (I was out of red and used white)
Handful of fresh cilantro
Salt to taste
4 poblano peppers
One diced chicken breast (to simplify, I just used a cooked breast from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
1 carrot diced
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
1/4 cup raisins
1 pear diced
1/2 cup pineapple diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste
Tablespoon olive oil
For the estofado sauce, roast the tomatoes, zucchini and chillies on a pan or grill. Toast the nuts until they are brown, carmelize the onions and garlic. Take all these and blend finely in a blender. You may need a little wine to get the veggies to blend well, and you may need to do it in batches. Pour the mixture into a pot and bring to a light simmer for 45 minutes to an hour so the flavors meld. Add the 1/2 piece of bread as a thickener and salt to taste. Near the end, add the diced cilantro. (I also added the bones from my chicken as an additional flavoring for the sauce, but you don't need to do this.)
For the stuffed peppers, start by roasting, peeling and coring the poblano peppers. Set aside. Then caramelize one onion and add the rest of the ingredients. Let the flavors combine and get soft for about 15-20 minutes. When done, allow the filling to cool a bit and stuff into the peppers. When you're done, you can set aside the peppers for later, or even prepare this the day before.
When you're ready to serve, heat up the stuffed peppers in your oven at low heat for 25 minutes, add hot estofado sauce on top, and add a few tortilla chips as a garnish.
It's a lot of work, but delicious -- even for a three year old.