poblano

Ricotta-Stuffed Poblano with Summer Vegetable Succotash

Feeds 4 people as a main dish

Poblanos are like the Russian roulette of peppers. You can get one as mild as a bell pepper and another as hot as a jalapeño. Either way, a ricotta stuffing improves them. The milk fat in the cheese mellows the tannic, astringent quality of mild poblanos and cools down the spiciness of the hot ones. I roast the poblanos, then core them and trim them so they lay flat, like a thin sheet cake. That allows you to stuff and roll the peppers jelly-roll style into a neat looking roulade. Underneath the roulade rests a quick sauté of ripe summer vegetables including corn and summer squash. Beneath that sits one of my favorite sauces ever, roasted tomato sauce. I learned it from Jordan Davis, my old sous chef at Woodfire Grill. He would roast summer tomatoes in the wood-burning oven and then pass them through the food mill to create a rustic tomato sauce with awesome fire-roasted flavor but none of the bitter black flecks. As a whole, the dish puts the spotlight squarely on ripe summer vegetables. It makes a great vegetarian entrée if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Poblano chile peppers
8, all about the same size

Whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup

Lemon
1

Salt

Butter
2 tablespoons

Onion
1/2 cup cut into 1/4-inch dice

Carrot
1/4 cup cut into 1/4-inch dice

Celery
1/4 cup cut into 1/4-inch dice

Summer squash
1/2 cup cut into 1/4-inch dice
(yellow or green zucchini both work)

Garlic
2 cloves, minced

Corn
2 ears

Crowder peas
1/2 cup cooked

Chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 cup + more if needed

Fresh chives
3 tablespoons thinly sliced

Oven-roasted tomato sauce
about 1 cup

Lemon olive oil

1. Char the peppers over an open flame until black on all sides. Set in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the peppers steam for 15 minutes. Using a clean but ratty towel (one you don’t mind ruining), rub off and discard the skins from the peppers. This method is better than using a knife because you don’t lose any of the pepper flesh—you just lose the charred skin. Using a sharp knife, cut around and remove the stem and top from each pepper. Cut a slit down the side to open the peppers, then remove and discard the seeds and ribs. Trim each poblano into perfect rectangles. The size will depend on how big the pepper was to start; you just want the long sides to be even and the short ends to be even so you can make a neat and even roulade (roll). Pat the peppers dry with a paper towel. Save the poblano scraps; they can be used in any recipe that calls for chopped roasted poblanos.

2. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, ¼ teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon salt. Reserve the rest of the lemon to use in the succotash.

3. Line up the poblanos on your work surface with the (former) skin side down and a short end toward you. Using a small offset spatula, evenly spread 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each rectangle, leaving about a 1/8-inch border on all sides. Roll away from you from short end to short end to form a neat cylinder. Wipe any excess filling from the edges.

4. Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan and swirl the pan until the butter is melted and the foam subsides. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and a pinch of salt and toss to combine. Cook just until the carrots soften, about 2 minutes. Add the squash and garlic and toss to combine. Cook for another 2 minutes. Crank the heat up to high and add the corn, crowder peas, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Spread the vegetables evenly in the pan and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. It’s really hard to let something just cook and not disturb it, but you’ve got to have patience and just let it go. Eventually, the stock will reduce down to almost nothing. If that happens before the 5 minutes are up, add a little more stock and continue cooking for the full 5 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat and use the washing machine method to stir in and emulsify the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Stir in the chives, ¼ teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and a Kevin pinch of salt.

5. Heat the tomato sauce in a small saucepan just until warm.

6. For each plate, spread about ¼ cup tomato sauce in the center. Top with one-quarter of the succotash and set 2 pepper roulades over the succotash. Drizzle the top of each roulade with lemon olive oil and garnish with a tiny pinch of salt.