Chiles Rellenos with Chicken Picadillo
Start by making Poached Chicken (page 260) for the filling. I poached 2 full chicken breasts—even though I only needed 1 full chicken breast for this dish—but anytime I make poached chicken, I usually make at least 2 full breasts so I have enough chicken for another meal, and because it makes so much stock.
- 4 large poblano chiles (see note)
POBLANO CREAM SAUCE
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 poblano chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche or Mexican crema
- 2 tablespoon EVOO
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 small ears)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Leaves from 1 or 2 sprigs oregano, finely chopped, or a sprinkle of dried Mexican oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 to 3 tablespoons pureed chipotles in adobo sauce (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken poaching liquid or chicken stock
- 1 full chicken breast (2 halves), poached (see Poached Chicken, page 260) and chopped
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 or 2 tablespoons small dark raisins
- A pinch of ground cinnamon
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup mixed slivered almonds and pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), or all almonds, toasted and minced
- Crumbled queso fresco or cotija (queso añejo), for serving
Prepare the poblanos: Position an oven rack one notch above the center of the oven and preheat the broiler. Broil the poblanos until they’re charred evenly all over; leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow the steam to escape. Place the charred peppers in a bowl and cover. When cool enough to handle, gently rub off the charred skins with a paper towel. Cut a slit in one side of each pepper and carefully remove the seeds. Set the poblanos aside.
Make the poblano cream sauce: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and poblano and season with salt. Cook until softened, 7 to 8 minutes.
Add the stock and cook to reduce to 3/4 to 1 cup. Transfer to a food processor and puree with crème fraîche. Return to the pan and reduce over low heat to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whenever you’re ready to serve, just reheat it to a low bubble.
Make the picadillo filling: In a large skillet, heat the EVOO (2 turns of the pan) and butter over medium to medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add the corn and cook until a little caramel-colored at the edges. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano and cumin and stir that to toast the cumin up a bit. Add the pureed chipotle and the tomato paste and stir that a minute or two until fragrant. Add the poaching, chicken, Worcestershire, raisins, cinnamon, and salt and pepper. Add the nuts. Simmer over low heat until almost all the liquid is evaporated, about 30 minutes; the flavors will combine and get really intense.
Shortly before the filling is finished, pop the poblanos into the microwave to heat them up, about 1 minute 30 seconds. Put the heat on underneath the poblano cream sauce to warm that up.
Cover the bottom of each of 4 shallow serving bowls with the warmed poblano cream sauce. Take the warmed poblanos and carefully fill them each with 1/2 to 3/4 cup (depending on the size of the poblano) of the picadillo filling. Just sort of fold the poblano back up over the filling. Place the stuffed poblanos in the sauce, then sprinkle with cheese.
NOTES: If you can only find small poblanos, use 2 per person. The filling for the recipe will fill 4 to 5 large poblanos.
Puree the whole can of chipotle chiles with the adobo sauce, measure out what you need for this dish, put the rest in a plastic bag, and store in the freezer. Seed the chipotles first if you want to tame the heat a bit.