The poblano pepper originated in Puebla, Mexico where it was named after the inhabitants of the town who refer to themselves as “poblanos”. Much like our better-known sweet peppers, the color of the pepper largely depends on how long it is left to stay on the vine. The poblano is harvested when it is dark green and almost purple on the vine. If left to ripen further, the mild-mannered poblano turns into the spicy chili known as the ancho chili. Anchos are typically sold canned in this country, or they are dried and ground into a pungent chili powder.
The poblano is probably best known as a key ingredient for the smoky chilies rellenos where it is stuffed with cheese, battered, fried and served in spicy red sauce. Flavor wise, poblanos are somewhere in between a mild green pepper and the spicy jalapeno. Not too hot and not too mild – just right! Having said as much, every family has that one “wild one” and periodically a single plant will produce a pepper more spicy than it’s brethren. For that reason, it’s not a bad idea to do a quick taste test if you plan to serve the peppers sliced up in a nice salad. If you find the pepper spicier than you wish, simply remove the seeds and the white pith inside the pepper, as that is where the heat is emanating from.
Our favorite way to serve up poblanos is to burn them. Yes…really. Burn them and burn them good. Simply wash the poblano then place it on top of a gas burner set to high on your stove (or under a searing hot broiler). Carefully turn the pepper until all of the skin is blackened and the pepper flesh starts to soften under the skin. Put the burned peppers inside a closed paper sack and leave them aside until they are cool enough to handle. Using your fingers, simply peel the blackened skin and stem away from the now roasted pepper. Again, the heat (if any) will be in the seed of the pepper so keep them or remove them depending on your palate. Cut the peppers into thin strips for an instant blast of fresh flavor to any dish. Try them with any roasted veggie, or add them to a fresh summer salsa. Chop them and add them to a cheese quesadilla or sprinkle over a plate of nachos. Ay, Chihuahua, now that’s good!