Stuffed Poblano Peppers and Salsa Borracha

Let's start off making the salsa borracha, a heady sauce of tomatoes, dried chilies and beer that can be enjoyed with tortilla chips or used to blanket enchiladas and other casseroles. Soak 2 dried guajillo chilies (or ancho or pasilla chilies) in hot water for 15 minutes. Remove from water, reserve soaking liquid and remove the seeds. Tear in to small pieces and set aside while you saute 1 chopped onion, in a little vegetable oil, until soft. 

Add to the pan or skillet 2 cloves of chopped garlic and 1 large tomato, diced. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes before adding 1 cup light beer (any sort of pale ale will do) and 1/2 cup of the reserved chile soaking liquid.

The beer will foam violently but continue to cook at a steady simmer until the tomatoes have broken up. Remove from heat and when slightly cooled, pour in to a blender along with a handful of chopped cilantro, 1 T. sugar, two large pinches dried oregano and salt and black pepper to taste. Puree until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and other seasonings as desired.

A lighter beer is best for the salsa. We used a Pale Ale from Saranac.

On to the Stuffed Poblano Peppers! Rub 3 or 4 large poblano peppers (or 5-6 small ones) with just a bit of vegetable oil and place on a baking sheet. Broil for around 10 minutes, flipping the peppers, once, after 5 minutes. As soon as they're cool enough to handle, peel them. The tough, papery skins should slip off fairly easily and this step is essential. To seed or not to seed? At Cafe Drake HRV we leave them in; the seeds are quite tender, have no unpleasant "mouth feel" but do increase the heat level of the poblanos. Your choice. Either way, make a long slit in each of the peppers and stuff them with 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese (cut into cubes) and 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese (grated).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of a small casserole dish with the salsa borracha. Carefully place the poblano peppers on top. If any cheese is falling or peeking out, stuff it back in to the peppers. Drizzle more of the salsa over the top of the peppers and cover with foil or a lid. Bake for 15 minutes and then uncover the dish. Bake an additional 20 minutes uncovered. Remove peppers from the oven and allow to cool 5 full minutes before serving. It may be easiest to remove the peppers with a spatula as they will be very soft and floppy. Serve topped with a little more salsa and, optionally, sour cream. The stuffed peppers are greatly enhanced with a pinch of finishing salt but this too is strictly option.

The Finished Product is a substantial platter of, still, lighter-than-usual Mexican fare: toasted whole wheat tortillas, black beans stewed with chipotle peppers and cocoa powder, stuffed poblano peppers with salsa borracha, a green salad and guacamole.


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