Well Dined


Charred "Chile Relleno" with Green Rice

I was watching The Food Network - my favorite channel - when I saw Rachel Ray make this dish. It looked so good that I made it the next day! It is a healthier version than the traditional battered-and-fried, dripping with cheese version. The pepper had a lovely charred, roasted flavor and the rice was vibrant and herbaceous. I don't like spicy food or cilantro so I made a few adjustments (bell peppers instead of poblanos, no jalapenos, parsley instead of cilantro), and it came out wonderfully. I also replaced 1 cup of corn from her vegetarian version with a cup of shredded chicken. You can certainly switch that back to make it vegetarian again.

Charred "Chile Relleno" with Green Rice
adapted from The Food Network
Time: 30 min Serves: 4

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
1 bay leaf
2 cups white rice
4 large green bell peppers
2 cups frozen corn kernels
3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained well (use fire-roasted if you can find them)
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken **see below
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 lb spinach leaves, deveined and coarsely chopped
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat broiler or grill pan to high. Place peppers under broiler or on hot grill and char evenly all over, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 3 1/2 cups of the stock in a sauce pot with a bay leaf to boiling. Add rice, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer 18 minutes or until tender. Place the parsley, spinach, scallions, lime zest, 1/2 cup of stock and a tbsp of oil in a food processor and process into a coarse green paste. Stir the paste into the rice during the last 3 to 4 minutes of its cooking time.

Meanwhile, defrost corn and dry by spreading out on clean kitchen towel. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet over high heat. When the oil smokes or ripples add corn and onion and toss until the vegetables char at edges and onions are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and add in garlic, tomatoes, and chicken and season with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook another 2 minutes, remove from heat. Sprinkle the lime juice over the corn mixture.

Split the charred peppers open (but not in half) and scoop out the seeds. Place peppers in a shallow baking dish and stuff each split pepper with lots of the corn mixture, top each pepper with 1/4 cup cheese and place back under the broiler to melt and char the cheese.

Serve the peppers with a big pile of the rice.

**Cooked, shredded chicken is a staple ingredient for me. I always have it around, whether from a rotisserie chicken or poached breasts. I can throw it into any number of dishes to round them out. My favorite method is to poach chicken breasts, then freeze them - thawing and shredding or chopping them when I need to. Below is the method I use to ensure they turn out flavorful and moist.

Poached Chicken

Place chicken breasts into a large stock pot or dutch oven. Pour in enough chicken stock to cover. Add a couple sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves, a few pepper corns, some salt, some halved onions, and roughly chopped celery and carrots. Bring to a boil over high. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat so that it is barely simmering. Simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the chicken sit in the hot liquid for another 15 minutes. Check one breast to make sure it is cooked through. Remove from the liquid, allow to cool completely, then use immediately or freeze.

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