One thing I miss from California is the chile relleno from Lola Gaspar. The filling was different every time, but they were always two things: delicious and spicy. Usually by the last cheesy bite my mascara has smeared and my mouth, at first seared, was then numb. They were also fried in a corn flour batter, so they were a bit crispy. Those rellenos were one of my favorite things to eat in Santa Ana. These stuffed poblanos are completely different, but they are so, so good. Like, “Ok. I’m going to make these tomorrow too.” good. It is a perfect vegetarian meal as the beans provide protein and they have substance and flavor, especially when served with Spanish rice. You can grill these or roast them in the oven. I roasted them, which made the cheese bubbly and brown. mmm hmm. These are not ‘mouth-searing’ hot, but they have a bit of a kick. They are even delicious leftover for lunch the next day.
slightly adapted from: The Sprouted Kitchen
½ pound dried pinto or Rio Zape beans, rinsed and picked over
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces dark Mexican beer, such as Negra Modelo
½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder, or 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 poblano peppers
1 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
juice of 1/2 a lime
cilantro, for garnish
Place the beans in a large glass bowl and cover them generously with water. Allow them to soak for at least 6 hours, or up to overnight.
Drain the beans of their soaking liquid, rinse, and drain. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic and sauté until the onion is just softened. Add the soaked beans and 2 ½ cups water, give them a stir, and bring the beans to a simmer. Simmer until the beans are cooked through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add the beer, chipotle, and cinnamon and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and the beans are tender, about another 20 minutes, depending on the freshness of the beans. If necessary, add a bit of water as the beans cook to keep the pot from drying out. Add salt to taste (I thought it needed quite a bit) and cook another 10 minutes. Set the beans aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (For directions on grilling, see below*) Cut a slit down the side of each poblano. Carefully remove and discard the membranes and seeds from inside the chile and set the chile on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining poblanos.
In a bowl, mix the cotija and Jack cheeses with the lime juice. Stuff each pepper with a few spoonfuls of the beans and a handful of the cheese mixture.
Roast in the oven until the poblano looks roasted (it will be a bit wrinkly) and the cheese is melted and starting to brown, about 15-18 minutes. Serve the peppers immediately, garnished with the cilantro.
*For the grill: Preheat grill to medium-high heat, leaving one section over indirect heat. Brush the outside of each stuffed poblano with the olive oil and grill the peppers over direct heat, rotating them every few minutes to evenly char the outsides, 6-8 minutes total. Move them to indirect heat for another 8-10 minutes, until the insides are melty and the peppers have softened a bit.