Monday, May 5, 2014

Roasted Poblano and Cotija Cheese Cornbread

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Visiting and catching up with friends and family is one of my favorite things to do.  Our lives are all so busy, that sometimes the weeks, forbid, months go by and we’re left wondering where the time went. However, the one of the beauties of having great friends is that no matter how long it’s been since a good “catch up”, you get to pick up just where you left off without a hitch. If you’re even luckier, there will always be food sitting between you to also enjoy.

Just that sort of friend paid the little one and me a visit recently. Just passing through, we didn’t have much time to sit for a full meal. What we did have time for in the middle of our incessant giggling and awe over the turns our lives have taken, was some of the quickest most savory cornbread I’ve ever made, coupled with my favorite tea.
I crossed the International Dateline with this combination of savory chili poblano, sweet cornmeal, and aged grated cotija cheese coupled with East Indian chai; however, we tend to operate often within fused flavor profiles in our house. Our confused and very happy taste buds are used to it, as are those of our friends.

With this recipe, I was a bit pressed for time, so I gave my shortcut a shortcut and used an all-natural cornbread muffin mix that we’re fans of.  Feel free to use a cornbread recipe from scratch if you have a favorite and the extra ten minutes to spare.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacking won’t be the same once you’ve tried this deliciously savorous cornbread. You’ll be glad you did.

Roasted Poblano and Cotija Cheese Cornbread
Yield: 2 medium 6-cup Bundt pans, 1 9x13 baking pan

The Method: The Ingredients
1 large Poblano, stovetop roasted, peeled, deseeded
1 tbsp. softened butter
16 oz All Natural Cornbread Muffin Mix
2 – 3 large eggs
⅔ cup of 2% organic milk
½ cup of grated Cotija cheese
2 tbsp. honey, brown sugar, or favorite sweetener
2 tbsp. melted butter

The Madness: The Assembly

Roasting Poblano Peppers

There are a variety of opinions on ways to roast, keep, peel, and deseed chili peppers. This take is just one of those ways. Often, I’ll even find myself mixing it up a bit. However, no matter how it’s done, roasting brings out a rich complex flavor in these peppers. Poblanos are a mild chili pepper that originates in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Often very mild and savory in flavor, red Poblanos pack more heat than the green; however, every once and a while, you may run in to a sassy green Poblano that packs a bit of a punch.

Wash and dry your peppers. Using tongs, place the pepper on top of an open flame burner over high heat. Turn by using tongs, allow all sides of the peppers to roast and blacken.  They’ll look burnt. This may take 5 – 7 minutes. Never fear this is how they should look. Place the blistered and blackened peppers in to a zip lock bag or airtight container to steam through and cool.  The steam separates the charred exterior from the actual flesh of the peppers, leaving beautifully roasted peppers.

Allow the peppers to cool for 15 - 20 minutes to allow safe handling.

Once the peppers have cooled, destem and deseed the peppers by making a slit down the side of the pepper. Turn the peppers over to expose the blackened exterior, using the flat side of the knife scrape the charred outside of the pepper. Now you have just the flesh of the roasted peppers, no stems, no seeds, no blackened exterior. There may be bits of char left on the outside. Some rinse their peppers after scraping to make sure that all of the char has been removed. I don’t. I believe in rinsing a roasted pepper, all flavors you’ve just imparted in to the pepper runs down the kitchen drain. Simply take your time in cleaning the peppers and you’ll be able to clear all of the blackened bits. 

Once you’ve cleaned the pepper, slice it in to strips, then in to a medium dice. Set aside.

The Cornbread Mix

Preheat your oven to 400˚

Prepare your medium Bundt pans by brushing/greasing them well with 1 tablespoon of softened unsalted butter.

In a medium mixing bowl add the cornbread muffin mix, eggs, milk, cotija cheese, brown sugar and melted butter.
If you’re unfamiliar or unable to find Mexican grated cotija cheese, you can substitute grated parmesan cheese for a similar aged saltiness and texture.
Blend the ingredients until they are well combined. The better will be lumpy. Pour half of the batter in to each prepared baking vessel. From my days of making that familiar blue and white box of corn muffin mix I tap the thick batter a few times by lightly dropping it onto the counter from close proximity to get any air bubbles out of the batter. I also allow cornbread batter to sit for a few minutes. It’s my understanding that this sitting encourages maximum crowing and texture on the tops of your cornbread.

Who doesn’t love a beautifully crowned and textured cornbread top? Place the prepared full baking pans on top of a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in to the oven. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, until an inserted toothpick or skewer comes out clean.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the Bundt pans on top of a cooling rack. Allow the cornbread to cool 10 – 15 minutes before trying to release it from the Bundt pans.

I’m a sucker for Bundt pans. They make everything pretty. If you have a full sized 12 cup Bundt pan and want to use that instead, double this recipe. Preheat the oven at 350˚. Be sure to check the cornbread for doneness at 30 minutes, then each 10 minutes thereafter.


The combinations are endless!

As always, Enjoy!
xo, Bon Appégeechee

1 comment:

  1. Those roasted poblanos look so good! I don't know why I never have thought to make cornbread in a Bundt pan. Love it! I was just looking for some cotija cheese the other day and couldn't find any. Must go back out and search some more!