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Meat Lite: Stuffed Poblanos with Tomatillo Salsa

Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by the book coauthored by the two, Almost Meatless, due out in spring 2009.

I love the idea of stuffed bell peppers. It's handy that they're edible vessels; that the accompaniment pairing possibilities are seemingly endless; that the filling can be customized to match your mood, the crowd, or the weather; that they can be a meal or a side dish. The trouble is, I don't actually like them. Bell peppers can be so pushy, dominating the flavor profile of the dish and ringing out over all of the other ingredients. You can stuff that thing with the tastiest innards ever, but in the end, the bell pepper dominates.

Giving up on all the potential of the stuffed pepper, though, seems a shameful waste. The following recipe is an adaptation that celebrates all of the aforementioned qualities using poblanos instead of bells, and an adjustable almost meatless filling. Don't like pork? Sub in ground chicken, turkey, beef or even crumbled tofu. Happen to have cooked meat leftover from last night? Shred or chop it and use it in place of the ground meat. Or go meatless and double the beans instead.

Poblano chiles aren't strangers to stuffing. Aside from their dry form--when they are called "anchos"--they are well known for being filled with cheese, dunked in batter and deep-fried to become chile rellenos. Poblanos range from sweet and mild to punchy hot and their rich, signature flavor plays nice with the other ingredients.

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