My Favorite Mexican Food Side Dish: Creamy Poblano Rice

Creamy Poblano Rice - just before it goes into the oven

I feel like I should apologize for loading my blog with so many recipes lately. I usually try to spread them out, but we’ve eaten so many good things this past week, I feel like I need to share them before I forget them. Don’t laugh at me. It happens. I blame the menopause. Today, I want to share my new favorite side dish. I’m calling it Poblano Rice because I’m creative like that. The Complete Package loves rice. I’ve mentioned this before. He’s addicted. I whipped this up one night to go with Mexican food, and now it’s our favorite side. It started with the greatest “find” at the grocery store I’ve had in quite some time. I call this a “where have you been all my life?” moment. Here’s what I found:

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.

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “My Favorite Mexican Food Side Dish: Creamy Poblano Rice

  1. Oh yummy!!!!!!!!!! I made Baked Brown Spanish Rice last night to go with our Mexi-chicken roll ups, but I think I will try this next time!

    • You’ll have to check back in and let me know if you liked it! Personally, I just can’t seem to get enough of it, and neither can TCP. We’ve had it 3 times in the past month or so. It’s so good.

  2. I love Mexican food but have to admit I don’t even know if a poblano is hot? If so I probably won’t be able to handle it. Looks really delicious, though!

    • It depends, Kandi. Some are hot and some are mild. If you’re looking for poblanos in cans, look to see if the cans are marked. The canned variety I’ve shown are mild. You would enjoy them, but I would suggest NOT sprinkling the cayenne pepper on top if you’re sensitive to hot peppers. I LOVE the flavor of poblanos. They’re the same peppers usually used in chili rellenos, if you’ve ever had those. Mmmmm…. so good.

  3. I wish I had the love for cooking that you do! Cooking is a chore for me right now.
    Everything you make always looks so delish, and I tell myself that I am going to try it out, and then never do. One day, I swear, I’m going to get in the mood to cook again and will come to your blog and PW’s for inspiration!

    • I do love to cook, and so does TCP. For us, it’s like relaxation therapy. It’s very zen to have the kitchen to yourself and the freedom do whatever you want. Of course, it helps that it’s just the two of us now, and there’s no pressure to feed a family and worry about everyone’s like and dislikes. We have very similar taste. But make no mistake, we’re not experts by any means. We just have enthusiasm on our side!

  4. Great recipe! My rice never comes out right… and I trap ALL the steam in there. I just learned something valuable today. :)

    • Okay, Michelle. I’m going to confess that when I get a comment from another blogger, I instantly go to their blog to learn more about them. I love my readers, and if they can take the time to read my blog, I can certainly return the favor. So at first, I was going to tell you that I love the retro robin’s egg blue KitchenAid mixer your blog is named for. Then I was going to say how much I truly loved your domestic goddess gravatar photo. But THEN…. oh, my goodness. Then I saw that you’ve posted a recipe for Pancit Bihon. Am I dreaming? My neighbor used to bring pancit bihon home from a little bakery in Chinatown in Houston. It was the most wonderful noodle dish in the entire world. Then she moved and the little bakery closed and I haven’t found pancit bihon again in at least 15 years. I’m telling you here and now… if I can find that Mama Sita’s mix and some pancit noodles, I will be making your recipe and earning myself a one-way ticket to noodle heaven. Thank you, Michelle. You stopped by to comment on my rice, and you’ve given me a great gift in return!

  5. Amy

    You forgot a step: how do you keep from eating it straight out of the mixing bowl? This looks sooo good! Cheese and rice and sour cream are so awesome together.

    • Hahaha… well, there’s nothing to prevent you from consuming it before it’s baked. All of the ingredients could be eaten in the pre-baked state without having to worry about food poisoning or intestinal issues. However, I can state from personal experience that it’s even better when it’s hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted and gooey. I love those poblano peppers and the kick the cayenne gives it, too.

  6. You had me at pepper jack cheese. Looks yummy! Wish my boys ate peppers…

    • Well, technically you could just leave out the poblanos and make this with the pepper jack cheese. Or you could chop the poblanos into smaller pieces so they might not identify them. Think it would work?

  7. Kat

    Marcus is one crazy varmint when it comes to rice – obsessed would be a tame way to put it. This dish (we’ve been on a huge pepper/spice kick lately!) would be AMAZING in our rotation!

    • I love your use of “crazy varmit” when describing Marcus’ love of rice. TCP is a rabid fan, too. Since you love the spice, be sure to add the cayenne on top. Can’t wait to heat what you and Marcus think once you’ve tried it.

  8. Malia

    Nana, can I make this then freeze it for later?

    • Absolutely, Malia. Just mix it up, spread it into a baking dish, cover it tightly with plastic wrap then foil and freeze it for up to two weeks. Remove from the freezer and let it sit for 20-30 minutes to thaw, then sprinkle with cheese and bake as directed. OR you can freeze the leftovers in individual serving containers for quick sides or easy lunches. I hope you enjoy it. It’s a favorite in our house.

  9. Allison

    I’m dying to make this, but can’t find canned poblanos. Where did you find them (store and section of store)? I’ve looked at Kroger, Target and Central Market. I’m generally pretty good at hunting down ingredients, but this one is eluding me. Wondering if I should try Fiesta, or another similar grocer?

    • Hi, Allison!
      I get mine at HEB. If you don’t have one close by, then YES to Fiesta! They should have them for sure. I love the San Miguel brand that’s pictured in this post, but any brand will probably do. I buy the ones cut into strips, and they are better if they say ‘roasted’ somewhere on the label. That little bit of char on the peppers gives them better flavor. Let me know if you find them and give this a shot. Our family loves this dish! -jeanne

  10. Brian

    Didn’t have the tin of poblanos, but made this using a small can of Old El Paso chilis and it was a major hit with both spouse & kids. Can’t wait to try it with the spicier peppers. On to the baked beans recipe!

  11. tracy

    I made this lastnight but used Monterrey jack cheese with jalapeños cause I thought it would spice it up but I was wrong. This will def be made again because it was yummy I was just expecting more flavor. Besides the cheese I used poblanos that I roasted not from a can. Thanks for this recipe cant wait to play with its spiciness.

    • Hi, Tracy! Glad you liked the rice. When I want to spice it up, I add cayenne pepper or a chipotle pepper. If you like it really hot, try adding a minced habanero with the poblanos.

      I created this to go with spicier main dishes, which is why it’s on the milder side, but I love spicing it up when needed. Go for it! -jeanne

  12. Janice

    Thinking of making this to go along with tacos for a high school volleyball team feed. Did you use a 9×13 pan? How many servings?

    • Hi, Janice.
      I used an 11″x7″ pan for this rice, which made 6-8 servings. You could easily double or triple this recipe for your HS team. I’d recommend making the plain cooked rice in several batches so it cooks properly, then toss it all in a large mixing bowl to add the other ingredients. If you use disposable aluminum baking pans, I’d also recommend baking it 325F instead of 375F, for 1 1/2 times longer. That way you could bake a much larger quantity without fear of burning the bottom of the rice in the thinner aluminum pans.
      Hope that helps! -jeanne

  13. Jenny G

    Oh my goodness! 1st of all, I LOVE poblanos! Im literally speechless and cannot wait to cook!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Pate'

    Ok. I will try this tomorrow since I offered to bring a Rice side dish. As a mid-westerner, I have never made rice from “scratch” (Uncle Ben’s is a distant, and appreciated relative) so I have that to look forward to. Do you think I can I add roasted corn and still come out OK? Can’t wait to try this.

    • Yes! You can add roasted corn to this dish. Why not? Sounds great, actually, since roasted corn & poblano peppers pair well together. If you’re more comfortable with Uncle Ben’s, you could try it. The recipe uses cooked rice, so a batch or two of cooked Uncle Ben’s is worth a try. I say go for it, and let me know how it turns out. I’ll be interested to see what you thought of adding the roasted corn, so keep me posted! -jeanne

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