Tag Archives: Monterrey Jack cheese

Inside-Out Stuffed Poblanos. Smoked. With Bacon.

I was trying to think of what to stuff in this mini bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and then my husband brought in a bunch of poblanos from the garden. Usually I stuff the poblanos with meat and cheese, so it was just a matter of turning the whole thing inside-out. Traditionally, you wouldn’t use bacon with stuffed poblanos, but I didn’t expect the stuffed poblano police to stop by, so I didn’t worry about it. Smoking takes time, and ground meat needs a fatty buffer, like bacon, to keep it moist during the longer cooking. It took about 2 hours to smoke to the point that a little cheese started to melt out of one end, and a thermometer registered 165º-170º in the center (of course, the center was pepper and cheese).

I only used 1 lb of ground meat for the two of us, and there were still leftovers. You’ll have to consider how much to make for your group. Usually, for example, I would use 1 lb of ground meat to make four burgers, and we would have one left over. Personally, I prefer less than a quarter pound for my burger, but I’m probably unusual. You could make several of these rolls for a larger group of people. I cut our one roll into six thick slices.

I made a woven mat of bacon to wrap the filled meatloaf in, using my favorite local thick-sliced bacon. It’s very thick and so you can’t stretch it like the typical thin commercial bacon. I made the mat 6 strips wide, but had to add partial pieces into the weaving to make it fully woven. I’m not sure you can see those half pieces in the photo. After wrapping the roll, I sealed the edges with another strip and put that side of the roll down on the grill grate. I didn’t worry about having beautiful ends, but I did pinch the rolled meat together to hold in the cheese for as long as possible. I wrapped it all tightly in plastic and refrigerated it for about an hour to try to convince it to stay in that nice loaf shape. The lesson here is this: Don’t fret about the appearance too much. Just take your time and keep handling it until it all seems to hold together. Believe me, the gorgeous smoked bacon on the outside and the gooey cheese on the inside will overpower any construction flaws.

Inside-Out Stuffed Poblanos. Smoked. With Bacon.

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: time-consuming
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  • 1/2 lb ground beef, 93% lean
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut in small dice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, mashed or grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ancho pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
  • 2 long 1/2″ wide sticks of Monterrey Jack cheese, each about the length of your meat roll (it doesn’t matter if you have to use smaller pieces)
  • 1 pkg thick-sliced bacon, at least 12 strips


  1. On a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, make a mat of woven bacon, about 6 strips wide and using as many pieces as you need to weave in the opposite direction. If you make it too big, you can always remove pieces, as needed. Set aside.
  2. Mix the first eleven ingredients together in a large bowl—meat, breadcrumbs, tomatoes, and spices. Form the meat into a log about the length of your bacon mat, then pat it out on a piece of plastic wrap to make a square.  It was easy enough to pat it out with my hands, but I’ve seen videos of people using rolling pins and even large plastic bags. Just make it even and squared off at the corners so you don’t end up with a football shape.
  3. Lay out sections of poblano peppers to fit the meat, but don’t worry about getting them out to the ends, because you want to pinch them together after rolling.
  4. Lay sticks of cheese on top of the peppers lengthwise and far enough apart that you can roll them up in the meat. But this isn’t rocket science—fill the roll as full as you like with as much as you can cram in there.
  5. Roll up the meat, using the plastic wrap to help you. Roll rather tightly and firmly, using pressure from your hands to mold and keep it all together. Pinch the ends together to cover the filling and pat the ends kind of flat so you have a neat cylinder.
  6. Set the meat roll on the mat of bacon and use the plastic wrap to bring the bacon up the sides—if you’re lucky the bacon will meet or come close to meeting and you can weave in a last piece to hold it together. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about an hour. Bring it out about 30 minutes before  the grill is ready, but leave in the plastic wrap.
  7. Set up the grill for slow, indirect heat with a 2 X 2 charcoal snake and a few handfuls of wood chips scattered over it. When your starter coals are ready and you’ve started the snake, set the roll on the cooking grate above a drip pan and close the grill. Cook and smoke for about 1 1/2-2 hours. The bacon should be browned and glossy with crispy areas, and the center will probably reach at least 165º, but keep in mind that you are measuring melted cheese in the center.
  8. Remove to a cutting board; let rest for a few minutes; then cut in thick slices.

I ended up burning only 1/3 of my charcoal snake, so today, I’m smoking some ribs with the remainder.


Chili-Dog Quesadilla Wrap

You heard right. I had too many tortillas in the fridge, and we eat just about any other kind of meat in them, so why not hot dogs? These dogs have at least two places to stuff—in between the tortillas and in the hot dogs themselves. If you can find another spot, let me know. What you stuff in and where is part of the fun. I’m making the traditional quesadilla with shredded cheese and chopped green chiles, then wrapping it around a chili dog with my homemade sauce and browning the whole thing on a griddle.

As far as flavors go, my hot dog sauce is spicy with cloves, nutmeg, and paprika, so I had to think about how to fill the quesadilla without any clashing flavors. If you try your own wrap, make sure all the flavors go together. You could even put more cheese in the dog and skip the sauce.

I thought it would be a heavy meal, too filling, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was a nice change from a chili dog in a bun. A little crunch on the outside, then melty cheese, then the savory dog and sauce in the middle.

Chili-Dog Quesadilla Wrap

  • Servings: as many as you can eat
  • Difficulty: easy
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The recipe time does not include the time to make your own hot dog sauce. I made a half recipe of the sauce the day before and still had to put much of it in the freezer in small containers: https://kitchenportfolio.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/hot-dog-sauce/

Hot dog sauce (recipe link above)

Natural casing weiners

Soft taco sized flour tortillas—I used both white and whole wheat

1 can chopped green chiles, rinsed and drained

Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Once your sauce is made, this recipe is mostly a matter of construction.

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Turn off heat and place hot dogs in the water. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat tortillas in the microwave in between paper towels to make them soft and pliable.
  3. Arrange about 1/4-1/2 cup shredded cheese and chopped chiles on a warm tortilla. Cover with another tortilla and press down.
  4. Slit a hot dog and place it in the center of the quesadilla. fill with hot dog sauce. A thick sauce works best.
  5. Roll the quesadilla around the hot dog, bringing one side up over the sauce to begin. Roll as tightly as possible, then seal with a toothpick at an angle, so it doesn’t get in the way of browning.
  6. Brown the rolled tortilla on a heated, oiled griddle over medium heat. Or you could brush the tortillas with oil. You want to keep turning to melt all the cheese in the quesadilla.

You can serve with more condiments, like more chili sauce or sour cream for dipping, but we didn’t find that to be necessary.


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


  • 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.


  • 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.