The weak-sauce summer in Seattle this year has made it particularly hard to grow a decent crop of any heat-loving crop. Tomatoes are still green and all of the eggplants and peppers I have seen are tiny, sad versions of what they could one day become if it were not for the looming frost in the near future. However, across the lake in Kirkland, a friend with a south facing wall was able to grow some amazing peppers, he has way more than he knows what to do with, and there are more and more available to harvest everyday. A portion of the exceptional bumper crop of poblano peppers made their way to my hands and I immediately started looking up chile relleno recipes. The smell of roasting peppers is priceless, I usually only get to enjoy it in the summer, when local farmers pull out huge roasters at the farmers market. But it is super simple to roast peppers in small batches over a gas stove at home and they fill the kitchen with the best aroma. I almost ate them plain, but I am glad I resisted because they were even better stuffed with corn, onions, spicy sausage, cotija cheese, crema and cheddar cheese. It is the best of summer produce paired with creamy, salty and crispy dairy products.
Baked Chile Rellenos with Corn and Crema adapted from Serious Eats
9 poblano chiles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 of a medium onion, diced
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)
6 oz diced, pre-cooked spicy sausage (about to large sausages)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
1/2 cup crema, or sour cream
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1. Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Roast your peppers. If you have a gas stove, turn heat to high on one of the burners, and set as many of the poblanos as will fit on the grate. Cook, flipping and moving the chiles frequently with a pair of tongs, until blackened on all sides. If you don't have a gas stove, turn on your broiler to high. Place the chiles on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, and place underneath the broiler. Cook, flipping occasionally with a pair of tongs, until blackened on all sides.
3. When the chiles are blackened, transfer to a large plastic ziploc bag and seal. Let then steam for at least five minutes. Peel off the blackened skins. Cut a slit down the side of each, starting under the stem and continuing down to the tip. Carefully remove the seeds being careful not to tear the chile. Place the chiles on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until heated through, and the sausage starts to get some caramelized color, about 3 minutes. Add the corn until it is heated through about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Add the cotija and cilantro to the onion, sausage, corn mixture. Stir to combine.
6. Equally distribute the filling into the peppers carefully with a spoon.
7. Spread a spoonful of crema onto the top of the filling inside of each pepper and liberally sprinkle with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
8. Bake peppers in the preheated oven for ten minutes. Turn on the broiler to high and cook until the cheese is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve immediately.