These roasted poblanos, filled with a savory, fruity, cornbread stuffing, make a terrific main dish for any fall entertaining you may have on the calendar. The apples and prunes pair perfectly with the fiery bits of the peppers, while the cornbread provides comforting heft and texture. Throw in a healthy amount of onion and garlic for heady aroma, and you've got yourself a feast.
Because there are so many components, this dish does require a fair amount of time to assemble. Make the cornbread and wild rice a day or two in advance to make prepping these peppers substantially easier. In a pinch, you can omit the rice.
These peppers are best served fresh, but if you have leftovers, they freeze reasonably well and make for satisfying, effortless dinners. Reheat them, wrapped loosely in foil, in the oven for 45-55 minutes, until heated through.
Oaxacan Cornbread-Stuffed Roasted Poblanos
yields 10 peppers, serves 5, stuffing adapted from Saveur
1 cup water
1/4 cup dried wild rice
1/2 loaf (generous 1/2 lb) cornbread, cut into 3/4-inch dice
4 TBSP olive oil, divided, plus another 1-2 tsp
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
1 large (7-8 oz) tart apple, such as Granny Smith, cored and chopped
3 oz pitted prunes (about 12), quartered
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 TBSP orange zest, from about half an orange
fine sea or kosher salt, to taste
10 poblanos (about 5 inches long with a 2-3-inch-wide top)
Bring the cup of water to boil and add the wild rice. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until tender but not too soft, about 50 minutes. Pour off any excess liquid and set aside.
Meanwhile, dry the diced cornbread on a cookie sheet in a 400-degree oven until gently toasted, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and celery, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the apple, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let cook 5 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat to medium, add the prunes, cumin, pepper, parsley, and orange zest. Stir well and cook until the mixture is hot and there is no water in the bottom of the skillet, 2-3 minutes. (The mixture will still be moist, but the bottom of the skillet should not have any pooled liquid remaining.)
Add the contents of the skillet to the cornbread, season generously with salt, add the remaining 2 TBSP olive oil, and stir gently to combine. Gently break up any large chunks of cornbread with your spoon, but take care not to reduce the mixture to crumbs. Set aside.
Cut a hole around the stem of a pepper. Remove and reserve the stem, (shake off loose seeds, if any, from the stem, but mostly these will be anchored tight--don't worry about those). With a spoon, scrape out any thick membrane and seeds from the inside of the pepper. Replace the top, set aside, and repeat with remaining peppers.
Pack each pepper with about 1/3 cup of stuffing, pressing gently to fill, replace the stem, and arrange in a 9x13 baking dish. Drizzle with 1-2 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle on a generous pinch of coarse salt. Bake at 400 degrees until dark, very tender, and blistered in spots, 30-40 minutes. Serve hot.