Oh, baby. You don’t understand. My favorite poblano peppers are available in cans! Do you know what this means? I can have them any time I want. When they’re not in season. When I don’t want to drive to the grocery store for a poblano pepper. When I feel the urge to stir them into an omelet or toss them into a pot of posole. Have mercy. They’re so good. REAL good. Really, really good. So when I wanted to make a Mexican style rice for dinner one night, I grabbed my new canned poblano peppers and some pepper jack cheese, and a glorious new side dish was born. Here’s what you’ll need:
NanaBread’s Creamy Poblano Rice
1 cup Texmati basmati rice, uncooked
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt (or 1 tsp. regular table salt)
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
1 can of sliced poblano peppers (7.5 oz.), drained
1/2 cup sour cream (low-fat is fine)
1 1/2 cups of grated pepper jack cheese
cayenne pepper, to sprinkle on top (optional)
In a medium size heavy-bottom pan, add the vegetable oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil just until it starts to shimmer. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until the rice turns chalky white and some of the grains start to brown very lightly. Can you see the difference? I love that nutty smell.
Carefully add the water, throw in the salt, and stir to keep the grains from sticking. When your rice begins to bubble vigorously, give it one last stir.
Place a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low (I set mine between 1 and 2 on my stove dial), and set your kitchen timer for 25 minutes.
A note about the perfect rice cooking pan: The Complete Package gave it to me for my birthday. It’s a Le Creuset saucepan with a steam vent lid.
I’ll be honest, when I first saw that hole, I was confused and disappointed. I was taught than when cooking rice, it’s imperative to keep all the steam in the pan. I think the second rule was that lifting the lid before the rice was done was punishable by death. So naturally, I grew up thinking my rice pan must be perfectly sealed for proper cooking. I was wrong. I’m now convinced that little vent hole is the key to making perfect rice. Since I’ve started using my vented lid saucepan, my rice has come out perfectly every single time. So go ahead. Relax when you see steam escaping. Crack the lid a tiny bit if you’re a rebel. As long as your flame is set to low when you cover it, I’m pretty sure it’ll be okay.
So… back to the poblano rice. When your 25 minutes is up, turn the heat off, leave your lid on, and let your rice sit and rest until the pan is cool enough to touch without burning yourself. That usually takes about 30 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, sour cream, poblano peppers, garlic salt and one cup of grated pepper jack cheese. Mix it up and give it a taste.
If it needs more garlic salt, regular salt or you want to throw in some cracked black pepper, now is the time to add it. Once it’s perfect, spoon it into a baking dish that has been lightly sprayed or oiled. Spread it out evenly and top with the last 1/2 cup of grated pepper jack cheese. If you like spice, sprinkle on a little cayenne pepper. It really kicks it up a notch. I highly recommend it. Highly.
Pop your baking pan, uncovered, into a hot oven (375F) for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve it with your favorite main course. This week, it was my recipe for carnitas.
Two weeks ago, it was fajitas. Next week, it could be fish tacos. The possibilities are endless, and the world is my oyster. Hmm… poblano rice with grilled oysters, shrimp and veggies? Or poblano rice with carne asada. Or poblano rice with the Pioneer Woman’s tequila-lime chicken. Dang. Now I’m hungry.