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I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but I used to grow a six-pack of tomatillos in the garden every summer and transform it in to a wonderful roasted tomatillo sauce. I made more each summer than I used up over the winter, and the stash in the freezer grew and grew. Howard finally said enough is enough, and it’s been several years since there were tomatillo plants in the garden.

There is still tomatillo sauce in the freezer, though the supply is dwindling.

At this week’s farmers market, I saw a pile of beautiful poblano peppers. I love chile rellenos, so I picked up a few. The only thing is that I’m not big on frying. Fortunately, cheese-stuffed peppers bake up very nicely.

I like the filling I use when I make jalapeno poppers, so I went the same route, combining grated cheese with cream cheese to bind it together. Lots of creamy gooiness!

How does the tomatillo sauce figure into this? The peppers need something on top, of course. I tried something new, combining the tomatillo sauce with ground sesame seeds for Pepian Sauce.

Poblanos were typically on the mild side, but the ones I used this time turned out to be somewhat spicy. The cheese helped. Good thing I didn’t go for the PepperJack cheese that I originally considered. Also, I think I drowned the peppers in too much sauce, though the tastes went together well.

Chiles Rellenos with Pepian Sauce
Serves 2

4 poblano peppers
4 oz cream cheese (light is fine), at room temperature)
4 oz Monterey jack, grated
5 scallions, sliced
Pepian Sauce (see below)

Char the skin of the peppers under the broiler or over a gas flame. Put the charred peppers in a covered bowl to steam. Peel the skin off the peppers. Core the peppers and gently remove seeds and ribs from the inside.

To make the filling, combine cream cheese, grated cheese, and scallions. Divide mixture evenly. Form into an oval patty, and stuff each pepper.

Cover the bottom of a baking dish that just fits the peppers with sauce. Arrange stuffed peppers. Cover the peppers with sauce.

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.

Pepian Sauce

1½ cups tomatillo sauce (recipe here) or purchased salsa verde
½ cup stock (corn or chicken) or water
½ cup sesame seeds
8-10 cilantro sprigs
½ tsp ground anise seed

In a dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds until golden. Be careful not to burn them.

In a medium pot, add the stock, toasted sesame seeds, cilantro and anise to the tomatillo sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree the sauce in the blender until smooth. It will take at least a minute.


Let It Snow!

Posole with Pulled Pork and Hominy

Well, the Blizzard of 2010 is over. Supposedly, it was the 10th biggest storm in Boston’s history. Honestly, it didn’t seem that bad. Granted, it was happened on a weekend when we had nowhere we had to be. It snowed a lot and got extremely windy. But, on the whole, I’m not sure it seemed like “Top 10”. We got around 15 inches here in Lexington. That was more than the 7 inches my sister got outside of Philadelphia, and less than the nearly 2 feet my sister-in-law got in Northern New Jersey. The end result was a cozy day spent inside.

2 feet in New Jersey

15 Inches in Lexington

7 inches in Philadelphia

One of Howard’s activities of the day (besides several rounds of shoveling and snowblowing the driveway) was to organize our extra freezer space. We have a full-sized freezer unit in the basement. To quote Howard, “it is way too full”. He contends that, as long as we didn’t lose power, we could probably live off its contents for at least a year. He might be exaggerating, but not by much. Post-organizing, he told me there was almost a full shelf of homemade tomatillo sauce, some of it dating back to 2005.

As a result of his good-natured teasing, it seemed appropriate to make a dinner from the stockpile in my frozen larder, featuring, naturally, some tomatillo sauce.

I made an old favorite, Quick Posole, using a frozen packet of pulled pork from a summertime smoking along with a quart of homemade chicken stock (also frozen). I like this recipe because it’s a sort of mix-and-match deal, depending on what’s at hand. The original recipe used chicken, freshly poached. Black beans or another variety can easily be substituted for the hominy. I’ve also made it with a red cooked salsa instead of the green tomatillo sort.

Pumpkin Seed Flour

I think one of my favorite things about it is that it is thickened with ground toasted pumpkin seeds. I toast the pumpkin seeds in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, then let them cool off. I use a coffee grinder (which I’ve never used for coffee, just spices and other non-coffee items) to transform the seeds into a nut flour. I’m not sure whether the flavor is noticable, but I think it’s a cool ingredient to add.

Here’s how you do it:

Quick Posole
Serves 4

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups tomatillo sauce or cooked red salsa
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted and ground
2 (15-16 oz) cans hominy, drained and rinsed
1½ cups shredded chicken or pulled pork
Chopped cilantro

Note: If you start with uncooked chicken (1 breast or 2 thighs should yield the 1½ cups needed), poach the chicken for about 20 minutes in the chicken broth you will use for the posole. Cool the chicken and shred.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the sauce. Be careful, it will spatter. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until thickened. Add pumpkin seeds and 1 cup of chicken broth. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Add chicken or pork, hominy, and the remaining 3 cups of broth. Simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro.