The weather outside is telling us that those pretty green leaves over yonder might be turning into something even prettier soon – red, orange, and yellow. Boy do I love the fall. When I lived in North Carolina, fall was without a doubt my favorite season. Here in Chicago though, I lean towards the summer since I’m less inclined to apply deodorant ten times a day here as I am back in NC. Even that fancy hi-intensity stuff doesn’t cut it there. Here, I don’t walk out of my house at 7:30 in the morning with sweat glistening on my forehead or running down my back. We don’t need to carry around battery-powered fans and we surely don’t need sunscreen to go to the grocery store.
Heck, this summer I probably could have worn a jacket every day and been just fine. For cryin’ out loud – what did you do with my summer, Chicago?! And already, already you’re letting that gentle fall breeze come right in and send you packing until next June? We waited so long for you and all you did was tease us. I am disappointed….I want my summer back!! I want my leaves to be green, and quite frankly, I’d like to sweat a little longer. If you must know.
Forgive me, pals. I’ve been a little angry these past couple of days and I’m trying to hide it as best I can. It isn’t just this crazy cool weather that’s gotten me all up in arms. I tell you in all honesty – I think my face has gotten as red as this ancho chile powder you see in that there bowl down there. I don’t like to be angry, I really don’t. Being angry just makes me mad and even sad. Being angry and hurt – it literally engulfs your entire being and every single thought. Even what you type. But don’t worry, I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. Hoping real hard.
But until that feeling dissipates, maybe it’s fittin’ to talk about these poblanos I managed to stuff full as a tick with potatoes, cheese, and cumin this past weekend. Or maybe instead, I’ll talk about the dried poblano powder, or ancho chile powder, that I rubbed all over those juicy pork chops. And I can’t forget the sauce that tied these two pieces together so artistically – the slowly reduced pot of orange juice, cinnamon, tomato, and ancho chile powder that I think might even be good on pancakes if given the chance. Well…maybe.
I’m sure you’ve eaten or used poblanos before, right? Or am I assuming too much here? Either way, here’s the low-down: They’re fairly mild, for chiles, but every once and a while they pack some surprising and intense heat. There is no way to tell if you’re gonna get a hot one or not. Sorta like me, as I like to generally consider myself a nice, mild-tempered person. Seriously. But if pushed close enough to a flame, I can really catch on fire (like the first batch of tostadas from Friday night’s dinner).
Poblanos are used in a number of ways: dried (think ancho powder or ancho chile), fried (think Mexican restaurants and peppers dripping with lovely tasty fry oil), in sauces (think mole), or like here, stuffed and grilled (think healthy relleno) to a perfect state of cheesy gooey goodness.
And for you gluten-free kids, it’s your lucky day. This recipe is gluten-free as-is. Dairy free – it is not. So for my gluten/lactose/soy intolerant buddy, his wife happily provided some rice cheese that melted into those chiles almost as good as the white cheddar on ours. He didn’t seem to notice as he gulped his last bite, winning the ‘who finishes first’ race by a landslide.
For all of you looking to maintain your cool in this crazy weather, this chop and chile combo is sure to satisfy. Packed with spice but low on the Richter, or rather Scoville, scale. Here’s to better days with less heat, in more ways than one.