Chiles Rellanos with Escabeche de Cebollas


This is a very easy and delicious meal that will cover some basic skills that you will use again and again in Mexican cooking; pickled onions, refried beans, and roasted and peeled poblano peppers.

One important thing I need for preparing chilies is a pair of rubber gloves. Otherwise, I get that hot stuff on my hands and then in my eyes,etc. I always have a bag of disposable gloves around. It’s a huge help.
Preparing the Peppers
The peppers to use are fresh poblanos. They are good sized peppers, dark green and beautiful. I’m going to spell this process out for you. Stay with me, now. One step at a time.
Before you can peel the chilies, you have to char them to loosen their skins. This is really easy, you just have to pay attention to what you’re doing. So — I do this over the flame of a gas stove burner. This is a very direct method. You can do one on each burner. (I just make one stuffed chile per person, as they are pretty large). You should end up with the peppers looking pretty burned and charred, which might seem weird to you, but that’s exactly what you want. Unless they are charred, the skin won’t come off. You will scrape off the burned part. Tongs are very helpful tools in handling the peppers while they are on the flame.
Put the charred chiles in a paper bag, or wrap with paper towels. Put the paper bag in a plastic bag. Let them steam themselves for at least 15 minutes.
Use a sharp serrated knife and scrape off the burned skins. You now have a pliable pepper. Leave the stems on, cut a slit in the side of the pepper that goes from the top about half-way down. Hold under cold water and carefully remove the seeds. They are all up at the top, tight under the stem.
After soaking, rinse the peppers really well with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels.

Pickled Onions (Escabeche de Cebollas)
Cut 1 large red onion into thin slices. Put in pan with 1/4 cup water and bring to boil. . Let stand 30 seconds. Add rest of ingredients and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat, drain, and chill to crisp.
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 tea salt. 1 T sugar
1/2 tea oregano. Dash of black pepper
These will keep in the frig for several days

Refried Beans
I must brag a little and say I make the BEST refried beans. Now, you can, too.
Well, this couldn’t be easier. I really cheat here and use canned ones. Just make absolutely sure you get the vegetarian version. Of course, I do my own spin on them, as follows:
In 2 T olive oil
Sauté 1 large yellow sweet onion for about 5 minutes. Then add
4 cloves chopped garlic.
1 chopped jalipińo pepper, with seeds removed. Cooking the jalipińo will give you flavor, not heat. Add
A handful of chopped cilantro
1/2 teas hickory smoked salt
1 T adobo seasoning, or chili powder. Then deglaze the pan with
1 T smoked vinegar
Let the vinegar “cook off”
You can buy the smoked salt and vinegar at blvd if you live in Nashville. You can use regular salt and cider vinegar in a pinch.
Add 2 15 Oz cans refried beans. I like Amy’s
Mix well and cook over low head for a few more minutes.
For this particular meal I add some tomato sauce to the beans to thin them down a bit. I just use marinara in a jar.

Avacado Topping
Since there is so much flavor in everything else, I kept this simple. Mashed up avacado with a bit of salt and juice of 1/2 lime.

Assemble by putting the beans into the slot you cut in the peppers to take the seeds out. Top with the avacado and onions, add a sprig of cilantro, and serve.

Let’s Eat Cactus

Let’s Eat Cactus

The other night Fred and I went over to the next little town, San Agustinillo, for dinner. As always, I am trying to make things work for my vegan diet. Slim pickings. But, one thing on the menu caught my fancy, Ensalada de Nopales. I had never tried nopales, but the salad sounded good, so I decided to give it a go. It was wonderful. I did some research on line and learned that they are very healthy for you and that they have been a food staple in Mexico for 6,000 years. So, tonight I am doing my own version of this salad. I went to the market yesterday and bought some cactus paddles that were already stripped of their thorns. Javier said. “You don’t need to buy those. They are growing all over Las Casitas.” But, I had watched a few YouTube videos and already had decided that it would be wonderful if someone else had cut the thorns off. If I recall correctly, I think you can buy these in the produce section of Whole Foods as well. I am sure, however, that I’ll be making lots more trips to the mercados on Nolensville Road when we come back to Nashville.

So, here’s what I did to get the nopales (I had bought a bag that contained about 8 of them) ready for the salad:
Washed them, and cut off the very bottom parts of the leaves.
Cut them into strips.
Boiled them for 15 minutes in water.
Drained and rinsed them.
I sautéed an onion and two cloves of garlic in about 4 T of olive oil. I scooped the onion and garlic out and put them in a refrigerator container to save to use in something later. Probably the red sauce for something later in the week. I just wanted to use them to add a bit of flavor to the oil.
I added the rinsed and sliced nopales to the hot oil and stir fried them for about 10 minutes.
I put them on paper towels to take off the excess oil and then I put them in the refrigerator.

To make the salad I added to the cooked and cooled nopales —
1 large ripe plum tomato, chopped
1 avocado, coarsely chopped. This is a bit heavy on the avocado, but I love it. You could just as easily use 1/2.
1 small chopped onion. Purple would be great for the color, but I only had white.
About 1 T chopped cilantro
About 1/4 finely chopped seeded, jalapeño pepper. (This is totally a matter of personal taste. I don’t like too much caliente.)
Juice of 1/2 lime.

Toss with honey mustard dressing. Garnish with a bit of sliced radish, or a sprig of cilantro.
Try this one. You’ll be pleased.
If you have salad left over, throw it into scrambled eggs for breakfast. ¡Buen provecho!