Have you seen these beautiful, glossy, dark green peppers at the farm stand? They're poblano peppers, a mildly hot Mexican chile pepper. They're traditionally stuffed and fried to make chiles rellenos, one of my absolute favorite foods in the world and, I confess, the major reason why I grow so many of these delicious peppers.
Unfortunately poblano peppers really hit their stride in August, when it's unbearably hot and humid in upstate New York. Even though I've been pining for fresh chiles rellenos all year, there's no way I'm firing up the stove and heating up a big pan of oil to fry chiles. A few years ago we had a brilliant idea - what if we combined chiles rellenos with another favorite, jalapeño poppers, to make a grill-friendly summertime version? This version is great for folks who like the idea of jalapeño poppers but don't like their food quite so spicy. Also, because poblanos are much larger than jalapeños, it takes less time to de-seed and stuff them.
In this recipe for "Poblano Poppers" we've used the familiar jalapeño popper filling of cream cheese, cheddar, and bacon, but feel free to experiment with your favorite fillings. Sausage would be a good swap for the bacon, or try mixing shredded summer squash and carrot into the cheese for a vegetarian version. You could also stuff the chiles with cheese and picadillo, a classic chile relleno filling of diced meat, vegetables, and tomato sauce.
Grilled Poblano Poppers
Makes 8 poppers.
4 poblano chiles
4 slices of bacon
1 package cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the bacon strips in half so that you have 8 short pieces total. Parcook the bacon in a frying pan set over medium-low heat until it's a little underdone (it will finish cooking on the grill.) I like my bacon crispy, so I usually cook it until it's mostly done but still has some non-crispy fat parts left.
Slice the peppers in half and scoop out the seeds and veins, leaving the stem intact. Try to slice them so that they will lay flat on the grill, without tipping over and spilling their cheese filling.
Mix together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Fill the peppers with the cheese mixture. Lay a half-slice of bacon on top of each pepper.
Grill over medium high heat until the peppers are charred and the cheese is melted.