A poblano pepper is a mild pepper used in Latin American recipes. The poblano gets its name from the city of origin – Puebla – the fourth largest city in Mexico.
Unlike many other varieties of chiles, the poblano is rarely used raw. While some ingredients are ready to jump in your mouth or in the pot, like celery or carrots, chilies have to go through a couple of steps to bring out their finest qualities in flavor, color, and texture. Instead, a poblano is roasted or fried to bring out its true flavor.
Roasted poblanos are used in mole sauces, can be cut into strips to make rajas con crema or stuffed and deep-fried to make Chiles Rellenos. Dried poblanos are often used to make ancho chili powder, a deep red seasoning with mild heat and a distinct peppery sweetness.
It can seem hard at first but once you prepare them a couple of times the process becomes very simple. Those extra steps are so worth it!
HOW TO PREPARE POBLANO CHILE PEPPERS:
STEP 1: ROAST OR CHAR THE POBLANO
To do so, you can either place them on a tray under the broiler, directly on the grill or directly on the open flame. Roasting them over an open flame is the traditional way to cook and char poblanos, in Mexico. I prefer this method. The charring really brings out the sweetness of the pepper. If you don’t have a gas stove, a charcoal grill works great!
Roasting them in a broiler is a significantly more convenient way to prepare multiple poblanos simultaneously. Learn how HERE!
Whatever method you choose, turn them every 2 to 3 minutes for a total of 6 to 9 minutes. They must seem charred and blistered on the outside but the flesh inside should become soft. The pepper should be charred and cooked through but not burned. (Just like roasting marshmallows in a fire.)
STEP 2: MAKE YOUR POBLANO PEPPER SWEAT
Once charred and hot place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or you can place them in a plastic bag, close it tightly and let them sweat for 10 to 20 minutes.
STEP 3: PEEL AND RINSE YOUR POBLANO PEPPERS
CAUTION!! PEPPERS CONTAIN CAPSAICIN, WHICH MAY CAUSE A CHEMICAL INTERACTION AND IRRITATE YOUR SKIN. USE GLOVES WHEN HANDLING CHILI PEPPERS.
Once cool, peel the skin gently, starting at the charred sections where the skin is loose, preferably under a thin stream of cold water.
You can also use a damp paper towel to wipe off the skin after you rinse. Remember that the flesh will now be tender enough to tear easily. An important point to keep in mind is what you intend on using the chili for.
If you’re trying to keep the poblano intact for Chiles Rellenos. To remove seeds from a whole roasted poblano cut a 3-inch slit into one side of the poblano. Insert a small spoon, and gently scrape all of the seeds and membrane out of the interior without tearing the pepper.
Cutting the roasted poblano into strips for enchiladas requires a lot less tenderness.
Simply cut the top of the roasted pepper off to remove the stem.
Slice it wide open so that it can be laid out flat and scrape out all of the interior and cut out and discard the ribs.
Cut the soft roasted shell into ¼ to ½-inch thick strips.
I hope you are now less intimidated with Poblano Chilies and will try to incorporate them into your next Mexican dish. They really are green Mexican jewels of goodness!