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Aug 8, 2017
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WINE WITH…Poblano Peppers Stuffed with Beef and Rice

“I like to treat them like old-fashioned stuffed bell-peppers,” said the woman at the farmers’ market from whom we’d just bought 6 beautiful, large poblanos. “I stuff them with ground beef and rice, and I often freeze an entire batch, uncooked, for use in the winter.” It’s been a long time since either of us has made, or even eaten, an old-fashioned stuffed pepper, but her words inspired us.

After substituting poblanos for harsher tasting (and often bitter) green bell peppers, we went strictly old-school in this recipe, aiming for simplicity of ingredients and ease of preparation. Actually, we veered off the traditional course in another way as well, by serving our peppers with an Ottolenghi-inspired mint-yogurt sauce instead of the tomato sauce that usually tops stuffed bell peppers. This savory sauce, along with the use of poblano peppers, transformed what had been a reliable, if somewhat stodgy, 20th century classic into a delicious dish well suited to today’s palates.

Poblano Peppers Stuffed With Beef and Rice

Serves 4

The poblano pepper (Capiscum annum) is the same pepper that, when dried, is called Chile ancho. While poblanos can be anywhere from 2 to 8 times milder than a jalapeño, occasionally (and unpredictably) a somewhat spicy one turns up. For this reason we prefer to wear rubber gloves when cutting and seeding the peppers (if you’ve ever rubbed your eye or nose after working with raw chilies sans gloves, you know why we recommend this).

The mint-yogurt sauce can be made several hours in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it.

For the Peppers:

6-8 large poblano peppers
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs such as panko
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425°

Cut each pepper in half lengthwise. Pull or carefully cut out the connecting membrane and all the seeds, and discard them.

Place the beef in a bowl and add all the remaining ingredients except the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and olive oil, and blend everything thoroughly together.

Divide the mixture between the poblano halves and arrange them in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Sprinkle the cheese and the breadcrumbs over the tops and drizzle with olive oil. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Remove the cover, reduce the heat to 375°, and continue baking for another 15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned.

For the Mint-Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup unflavored yogurt, preferably whole milk
1 teaspoon paprika (not smoked)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 & 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Thoroughly combine all ingredients.

* * *

A red wine dish, or in summer’s heat a rosé one, these stuffed poblanos can handle fairly robust wines. Don’t be afraid of tannins or forceful flavors. The spice from the peppers, combined with the rich taste of the beef, will enable the dish to hold its own. And the mint-yogurt sauce will add a comforting touch.

Questions or comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com

Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Alamos,

Mendoza (Argentina)

Malbec

“Seleccíón”

2014

(Imported by Alamos USA)

$20

Soft but substantial, this top of the line Alamos Malbec is full of satisfying plum-like fruit flavors. They provided a succulent counterpoint to the savory peppers.

Avignonesi,

Montepulciano

(Italy)

Rosso di Montepulciano

2014

(Imported by Tabaccaia USA)

$21

This wine made for a very special match. It has a dusty, dried fruit element which complemented the beef and peppers wonderfully. Food and wine pairings this seamless are rare!

Clos du Val,

Carneros

Napa Valley

(California)
Rosé of Pinot Noir

“Estate”

2016

$30

We probably wouldn’t choose this wine in a different season, but on a hot, steamy summer evening, it performed quite well. It’s more substantial than most rosés, with a depth of flavor that belies its pale color. That depth is what made it work with this dish.

Frei Brothers,

Alexander Valley

Sonoma County

California

Cabernet Sauvignon

“Reserve”

2013

$27

A ripe but firm Cabernet, this wine paired well with the peppers as it had a special affinity for the beef. It handled the spice in the dish just fine, but its real appeal came from complementing the meat.

Peachy Canyon, Paso Robles California Zinfandel “Westside” 2014

$22

This zesty Zin handled the heat from the peppers with aplomb. Its spiciness matched the dish’s, making for a vibrant and very enjoyable combination of flavors.