Beans with Poblano Chiles (Step by Step)

One of my favorite way to eat beans is with roasted poblano chiles. I think green bell peppers are ok but you really can’t compare them to a big, meaty poblano. Bells might have a thick skin but they’re watery and bland. Poblanos are juicy and versatile and they go well with beans, making them my ideal pepper.

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Here in California, a lot of fresh poblanos are marked as “Pasilla” peppers. I think it’s a Norteño thing but I might be wrong. Most of Mexico knows this chile as a poblano. I think you should, too.

The chile is almost never eaten without roasting and removing the skin first. I’ve done it a million times and I think I can do it in my sleep, but I do know it’s an odd technique so I’ll fill you in on how I do it.

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If you have just one or two peppers, it’s very easy to roast them straight on the fire on a gas oven. If you have a lot, or an electric range, you can roast them in a comal, as in the photo above, or a well-heated cast iron skillet. At first I discounted this method but really, it’s nice not to have to keep a close watch. You have to rotate the chiles and turn them as they char but you don’t have to hoover as you would over an open flame.

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This method will leave a lot of un-blistered skin so I use my Bernzomatic torch with a can of gas. I obsessively fill in all the green gaps with blistering, unforgiving heat. When the entire chile is charred and blistered, you are done.

A lot of instructions will have you place the chiles in a plastic bag and let them sweat. I find the idea of sweating in plastic unpleasant, and I’m betting the chiles do, too. I opt for a mixing bowl with a plate on top if I have just a few or a big old grocery store paper bag for a batch. Let them rest about 15 minutes, covered and undisturbed.

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I’ve seen Diana Kennedy pull the whole skin off with one stroke using just her fingers. I can almost do this, but not quite. I end up using my trusty kitchen knife to separate and remove the skin. Sometimes it’s whole, often it’s in sections.

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You also want to remove the seeds inside. For our needs, you can be sloppy and just cut and remove them. If you’re making chiles rellenos. you want to find a weak section in the side, make a slit with your knife and remove the seeds from there. We just want the chile “meat” for this recipe so you chop the top off and remove the seed head and all the seeds. You can scrape with the dull end of your knife to move any stray seeds.

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I’ve seen recipes suggest you rinse the chile in cold water. I’m sure there are situations where you want a super clean chile and this makes sense but I can’t believe you’re not sending flavor down the sink. A few char marks or seeds aren’t going to harm things and they may even help.You also will find that there are some lovely juices that collect as they chile cools down. Save them!

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Now you can take the chiles and fry them with oil, onion, garlic and Mexican oregano and you have beautiful rajas of poblano chile to enjoy. Classically they are a great match for eggs or you can take some strips and some cheese as a stuffing for tamales. I’ve fried them with olive oil, garlic and onion and pureed them as a sauce for pasta. It’s pretty unlimited what you can do.

Now let’s take some homemade beans and put them to good use. I used Good Mother Stallard for this recipe but any bean that doesn’t fall apart will be fine, just a little different. I made the beans in my glorious new micacious clay bean pot from Mica Pottery by Jan. I’ll write more about this amazing pot later but for now let me just say: WOW!

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When all the ingredients are calm and happy, you just add some of the rajas to a bowl of beans and call it a day. If you are the indulgent sort, you could add a dollop of heavy cream or yogurt. I am the indulgent type, to be sure, but I really just love the beans like this. And if you care, it’s vegan.

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