Category Archives: Tex-Mex

Grilled Stuffed Poblanos, Theoretically

What are the chances that my roasted poblano peppers will behave and let me both peel and seed them and still remain in one piece to be stuffed? I know from experience that the chances are slim, which is why I showed you once how to fake it by laying the flattened pepper in a tortilla and rolling it around the stuffing. I’m going to stay optimistic this time, hoping they stay intact, but I’ll show the results, whether gorgeous or homely. The pepper concoction will still taste good, even if they aren’t pretty.

I really wanted to show off my new Lodge 12″ Cast Iron Skillet, which will allow me to cook the filling on the grill, too. In fact, I expect to make the entire dish on the grill, from first roasting the peppers to the last step of melting the cheese in them after stuffing.

Behold, the glorious stuffed poblanos. Note: the two Anaheim peppers are for other dishes.

Grilled Stuffed Poblanos

  • Servings: enough filling for 8-10 peppers
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Set up grill for direct and indirect heat; I used charcoal baskets in the center, with plenty of indirect space around it. I used a high heat of 400°.

  • up to 10 poblano peppers
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup diced, seeded tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons roasted garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 8-12 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, cut in 3 inch strips about 1/2 inch square

Peppers

  • Char peppers over direct heat for about 5-7 minutes per side with the lid closed, turning as necessary until skin cracks.
  • Remove to bowl covered with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle.
  • Make the filling while the peppers cool.

Filling

  • Heat cast iron skillet over direct heat with lid closed for about 5 minutes.
  • Brown 1 lb ground beef.
  • Add 1 cup diced, seeded tomatoes, 1 cup diced onion, and seasonings:
    • 2 tablespoons roasted garlic
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • Cook, stirring until vegetables are softened and juices evaporate.
  • Remove skillet and set aside while you prepare the peppers.

Prepare Peppers

  • Peel peppers carefully, trying not to split the pepper or pull off the stem.
  • Slit one side of each pepper from bottom to stem. Carefully pinch off seed ball at base of stem and rinse out seeds under light stream of water.
  • Variations, especially if your peppers seem to be falling apart, include cutting each pepper in half to stuff or laying flat if the stem falls off.

Stuff Peppers

  • Place one pepper on a square of foil (about 12 inches square).
  • Fill the pepper with the beef filling, a spoonful at a time, because you are still trying to keep the peppers intact.
  • Take about 3 strips of cheese and push into and on top of filling.
  • Loosely pull up the sides of the foil, pinching the ends so the juices don’t run out, but keeping the tops loosely closed, so you can easily peek in to check on doneness.
  • Repeat until all your peppers are in pouches.
  • Set pouches over indirect heat and close grill lid. Check at 5 minutes to see if the cheese is melted and the filling is bubbling. When they’re done, they’re done.
  • Remove pouches from grill, open, and lift out each pepper with a spatula.

I served the peppers with a drizzle of sour cream/lime juice mixture and brown rice.

Pulled Pork Two Ways

Beyond pulled pork in a bun with coleslaw—and it is one of my favorite ways to eat pulled pork—what else can you do with that lovely pile of meat that is generally way too much for one meal? Yes, there are a lot of Mexican dishes that use pulled pork, and one of those is my second recipe here, but first, let’s do something savory that doesn’t involve peppers and melted cheese, followed by heartburn.

Pork and Sweet Potatoes

Pork and Sweet Potatoes with Thyme

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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This is a kind of a hash in appearance, but without poached or fried eggs on top. I’m kind of over the meme of the egg thrown on everything edible.

Let’s assume you have roasted a pork butt or shoulder and have about 1-1.5 lbs of the meat sitting around for one recipe. I didn’t immediately pull the meat off my roast, because I knew I wanted other options; I broke it into large chunks and divided it in half—one half to chop into rough cubes, the other to shred for the second day.

1-1.5 lbs roast pork butt or shoulder, seasoned in roasting with garlic, salt, and pepper, cut roughly in medium cubes or shredded

3 cups sweet potatoes, cut in medium dice

1/3 cup shallots, in small dice

Olive oil and butter for sautéing

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (more if using fresh thyme)

  1. In a large skillet, heat about 2-3 tablespoons oil and an equal amount of butter over medium to medium-high heat, until hot but not smoking. I’m nuts about the combination of these two fats.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to combine with the fat. Cover for about 5 minutes to steam them a little, then uncover and add the shallots and thyme. Keep stirring until the potatoes are tender. They will brown lightly with this method, but you could fry them uncovered for more browning. Basically, you want the potatoes to cook through without overcooking or burning the shallots and thyme, so hold off on adding them too soon.
  3. At the last, stir in the diced pork and heat through. If your pork is like mine, there should be some juices from the roasting, which will be gelatinous if you have refrigerated it, and that flavor needs to be combined with the potatoes.

I say it serves 2-4, because my husband finished it off, so it was two in our house, even with a side vegetable.

Pulled Pork Enchiladas

On day two, which was the day before Cinco de Mayo, the remaining pork was pulled into shreds for enchiladas. I made them rather simply this time to highlight the meat.

Pulled Pork Enchiladas

  • Servings: 8 enchiladas
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
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Preheat oven to 350°

1.5 lbs pulled pork, seasoned in roasting with garlic, salt, and pepper

2 4.5 oz cans diced chiles

1 large onion, diced

1 lb Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

8 tortillas—I used whole wheat flour tortillas in a soft taco size to fit crosswise in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish

3 cups enchilada sauce—I made my own, but you could use canned sauce

  1. See my enchilada sauce recipe here, increasing the ingredients to make 3 cups. It will take about an hour to make. Otherwise, this recipe is just a quick construction with pre-cooked meat.
  2. Place pulled pork in large skillet with the canned chiles and heat over medium heat until warm.
  3. Stir in the raw onions.
  4. Spread 1 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.
  5. Place about 1/2-3/4 cup of the shredded meat mixture in a tortilla and top with 1 oz of the shredded cheese. Roll tight and place in dish, seam side down. Repeat to fill the dish.
  6. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas—I like to see the ends of the tortillas sticking out, but it’s not written in stone.
  7. Top with the remaining 1/2 lb of shredded cheese.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

This made enough that we could still have some for Cinco de Mayo.

70s Flashback: Crazy Crust Taco Pie

Feeling like getting your groove on this weekend? Then ease on down the road to this one dish (sort of) meal in a pie pan, the Crazy Crust Taco Pie. If you never made one before, don’t worry, because thanks to the Internet, the past is at your fingertips. Not into taco flavoring? There are endless filling possibilities from the past or you can invent your own. Most of the ones I see use ground beef, but I’d like to see some with chicken, too. The crust is kind of a loose biscuit dough with egg and sour cream that rises around your filling, and the result is a very soft and tender crust.

Can you dig it?

Crazy Crust Taco Pie

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 425°

Grease and flour a 10 inch pie pan.

Crazy Crust

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup solid shortening (like Crisco®)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 egg

  1. Mix all ingredients until mostly smooth. I recommend a hand mixer to help incorporate the solid shortening.
  2. Pour batter into prepared pie dish and spread out to edges and up sides. The batter is a little thicker than pancake batter and will not go very far up the sides, so spread it thin on the bottom and use the back of your spoon to press it up the sides about an inch.

My Taco Filling

1 lb ground beef, browned

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup Pace® Picante Sauce, or your favorite salsa

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped

  1. Brown ground beef and drain off fat. Add onion, garlic, and dry seasonings, continuing to cook until the onions are soft. Add salsa and chipotle peppers and cook for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool a little while making the batter.
  2. Spoon filling into center of battered dish, leaving the edges of the batter uncovered. Try to place the filling around in spoonfuls and not press it into the batter or do a lot of spreading.
  3. Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes or until browned. If you want to top with cheese, you can add that after it comes out of the oven or you can put in on during the last 5 minutes of baking.
  4. Cut in wedges and serve with your favorite taco toppings—grated cheese, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, more salsa.

Beef Enchiladas

Well, these happen to be beef, but they work with a variety of fillings. Today I used ground beef, but most of the time I use pulled chicken or beef from a chuck roast. Pulled pork is another great filling, or you could just use an all cheese filling. Enchiladas are always impressive in a restaurant, all filled and rolled and baked in a sauce smothered with melted cheese, but they are really easy to make. With chicken, I often make a red and white version, using two sauces, cheese and enchilada. That version does take a little more work.

I do go the extra step of making my own enchilada sauce, but maybe you have access to a good quality commercial version. I’m afraid the canned ones around here are just not as flavorful as mine—plus they have tomato sauce in them, which just doesn’t mesh with our idea of enchiladas. I think I’ve posted my enchilada sauce recipe before, but here it comes again:

Enchilada Sauce

  • Servings: about 2 cups
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Prepare Reconstituted Dried Chiles

  1. Rinse 6-8 dried ancho chiles, remove stems and seeds
  2. Tear into pieces so they fit in a small container or bowl
  3. Cover with 2 cups boiling water, submerging the peppers as much as possible; cover container with plastic wrap
  4. Set aside for at least 45 minutes; reconstituted peppers will be dark red, soft, and pliable
  5. Place reconstituted chiles in blender with half the liquid and puree, adding the rest of the liquid through the lid opening
  6. Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove large pieces of pulp; stir slowly in the strainer with a spoon until all the liquid is out and only the pepper fiber remains in the strainer

Prepare Enchilada Sauce

  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil  and 2 cloves of grated garlic in saucepan over medium heat until you can smell the garlic
  2. Stir in 1 tablespoon flour until smooth
  3. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  4. Pour in pepper puree and 1 tablespoon white or rice vinegar
  5. Stir and simmer until slightly thickened

Beef Enchiladas

  • Servings: 8 enchiladas
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°

1 lb ground beef, 80% lean or higher

1 medium onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground ancho pepper

1 cup sour cream

1 lb cheddar cheese, grated

2 cups enchilada sauce

8 whole wheat flour tortillas (8 inch soft taco size fits well in most rectangular baking dishes)

  • Brown ground beef in large saute pan. Add onion and seasonings, continuing to stir until the onion is beginning to soften and the spices are fragrant
  • Turn off heat and stir in sour cream*
  • Spread about 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce in bottom of baking dish to prevent sticking
  • Fill each tortilla with beef mixture and top with 2-3 tablespoons of grated cheese; roll and place in baking dish
  • Top with remaining enchilada sauce; as you can see, I don’t worry about covering all the tortilla edges—the dish should not be soupy
  • Top with the remaining cheese
  • Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown and sauce is bubbling at edges

Other enchilada ideas:

  1. Use a drier meat mixture, serving sour cream as a garnish at serving
  2. Mix chicken with cheese sauce for filling, using enchilada sauce for topping
  3. Prepare shredded beef or pork that has been seasoned during roasting for filling
  4. Use uncooked diced onion in filling for more texture and a stronger onion flavor
  5. Skip the enchilada sauce and use only a cheese sauce—plus grated cheese—for topping