Poblanos con Queso


I used to love a bowl of chiles con queso to fold into soft corn tortillas,  and now that I eat low-carb and no longer eat tortillas, I find that my enjoyment of roasted chilies with cheese and cream is undiminished.

Here in New Mexico August is the great season of chilies, and soon chile roasters will appear everywhere and the aroma of roasted chile will float in a faint delicious cloud over the city.  But there are plenty of chiles around right now  and they can be roasted easily on the grill or under the broiler.  My favorites are the lovely inky green poblanos.  I was so eager to roast mine that I forgot to photograph them, so here is a borrowed photo:


Chile pepper plants are sturdy and attractive and can usually be grown in the front yard without comment, especially if planted in groups rather than rows. They have nice deep green foliage. In the case of poblanos, they turn very hot when red and should be harvested when dark green. They have a deep rich flavor and, depending on growing conditions, can be surprisingly hot when green, although generally they are considered a mild chile.  Roast them until they have blackened spots all over their skin, turning as needed, then throw them in a plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes. Peel off the skin and remove the core and seeds. Now tear them into strips. These are called rajas de chile.  For the roasted strips from six poblanos, chop up one small onion and one good-sized clove of garlic and sauté them until cooked; I used fat from my homemade bacon. Add the chili strips and about half a cup of cream, and boil hard for just about one minute until the cream is a little reduced.  And a generous cup of grated cheddar, stirring some into the chili strips and put in the rest over the top, and broil until the cheese is melted and maybe a little brown in spots.  It makes a delicious light meal for two. If you add soft tortillas, it will feed two  generously.  It makes a good side dish for grilled meats of many kinds.  To me roasted chile is the flavor of August, and I am happy to have a foretaste of August in July.

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