Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dirt to Table Experiences: Baked Turkey Chiles Rellenos

This time of year our garden is an untamed jungle.  Heat and humidity have taken their toll on our summer vegetables, and the weed Gods have blessed the foot high grasses, and welcomed the natural pests of the vegetable garden.  As we hack our way through the garden standing tall and proud are the poblano peppers, vibrant and thriving in the heat.  An under appreciated mild smoky pepper often found in Mexican and American Southwest cuisine.  These peppers can range in flavor intensity (occasionally these peppers can provide a surprise heat) but, mostly they deliver mild heat with a smoky almost sweet flavor.  Ideal for roasting, baking and stuffing.  

A favorite dish using poblano peppers is Chile Rellenos.  In this dish turkey is used instead of beef and the poblanos are roasted in the oven before stuffing and baking.  This dish can be made in about an hour and serves as a delicious weeknight meal.  Also freezes well to enjoy later.

Baked Turkey Chiles Rellenos
Serves 4
Adapted from Hello Fresh

4 poblano peppers
1 -1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1-1/2 tablespoons chicken based concentrate or 1 cup chicken stock
1 cup jasmine or basmati rice
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 jalapeƱos, seeded and minced
2 Tablespoons good quality southwest spice blend
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon Chipotle spice 
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add chicken stock concentrate (note: If using chicken stock use in lieu of water). Halve the poblano peppers lengthwise.  Remove seeds and ribs.  Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Place on a baking sheet. Roast until soft.  About 20-25 minutes.

Add rice to boiling stock.  Cover, simmer, and cook until tender (15-20 minutes).

In a separate large skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and jalapeƱo.  Cook until soft.  Add Southwest seasoning and turkey (breaking up the meat as it cooks).  Cook until the turkey is no longer pink.  Season withs alt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

In a small saucepan, stir together crushed tomatoes and 1/2 cup water.  Add more Southwest seasoning and Chipotle spice. Bring to a simmer.  Season with salt and pepper.

When the rice is done cooking, add to the pan with filling.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add additional chipotle and southwest seasoning, if desired.  If your pan is not ovenproof transfer mixture to a small baking dish.  Stuff poblanos with as much filling as possible.  Return to pan, nestling in remaining unused filling.

Add sauce over stuffed poblanos.  Cover with cheese.  Bake in oven until cheese melts.  Serve.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Weeknight Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Gumbo is perhaps the dish that most represents Louisiana and its Creole-Cajun heritage.  A fine gift to American cooking. 

An authentic gumbo takes time.  A lot of time to prepare.  Depending on the cook's preference a pot of gumbo can include a variety of ingredients from crawfish, sausage (especially andouille), oysters, duck, pork shoulder, poultry, tomatoes. The list goes on and on.

During the week there is no time to make an authentic gumbo happen but, here is a respectable version of gumbo you can make happen in under an hour, and everyone will be happy.

Weeknight Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Serves 4
Adapted from Sara Moulton

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1lb. chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch thick pieces
8-ounces fully cooked smoked sausage (Andouille or any other smoked sausage), sliced
3-4 Tablespoons Creole Seasoning
4 cups chicken stock
1-10 ounce frozen cut okra
Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper

Cooked white rice as an accompaniment

To make the roux, heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add flour and cook, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until it is golden brown, and smells like popcorn.

While the roux is cooking, chop the red and green bell pepper, celery, and onion and place them in a bowl.  Press the garlic into the mixture.  Add the chopped vegetables to the roux and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  The roux will clump o the vegetables, but it will disappear into the sauce once the chicken stock is added.

Add the Creole Seasoning to the roux mixture and cook, stirring about a minute.  Gradually stir in the chicken stock and 1/2 cup water, whisking until smooth; bring the mixture to a simmer.

Add the chicken to the sauce and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the sausage and okra and cook until heated through.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice.