September will forever remind me of Hatch Pepper season in New Mexico and Texas. Much like the nostril tingling smell of burning leaves in the fall, the air becomes heady with the nostalgic scent of roasting chile peppers.
I felt the need to honor the season by roasting my own poblano peppers―not quite the same as Hatch peppers, but good enough. I’ve also written here about my endless tinkering with cheese stuffed peppers and my obsession with new variations on chile rellenos―something beyond egg batter dipped and fried.
Since we have a growing Latino community here, I was thrilled to find a market with a cheese counter selling bunches of long thick strands of Oaxacan quesillo. The cheese is quite similar to Italian string cheese, which would also work using multiple strands. Cut into appropriate lengths, the widths handily fit into a roasted chile.
Today’s version is a take on the charming British Toad-in-a- Hole, or sausage encased in Yorkshire pudding. I’ve always had a special weakness for these babies, but balk at their soufflé-like tendency to sadly deflate into nothingness.
Not exactly Latino influenced, but still, it is quite tasty with fresh homemade salsa. Of course, what isn’t more tasty with salsa?
Chile Cheese in a Hole
1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 onion, peeled and sliced
6 poblano or pasillo peppers, charred, skinned, and seeded
3/4 lb. Oaxacan or string cheese
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Sear the chiles over a hot flame or broiler until blistered on all sides. Place in plastic bag to loosen skin. When cool, peel the skin away. Make a slit in the side of each and remove the stems and seeds, keeping them as whole and intact as possible. Set aside.
- Slice the cheese into 6 – 2 ½” lengths and wrap the peppers around the cheese fingers.
Rub a pie plate or other similar ovenproof dish with part of the remaining olive oil. Add the sliced onion, drizzle with remaining oil and distribute the slices evenly in dish. Bake in 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until they begin to take on color
- .Meanwhile prepare the batter: combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and make a well in the center. Combine the beaten eggs and milk and pour into the flour mixture, beat until well blended. Fold in half of the shredded cheese.
Remove the onion from the oven and set the peppers into the dish like spokes in a wheel, wide ends out, with onions between the chiles. While the dish is still hot, quickly pour in the egg batter and return to oven; it will not completely cover the chiles.
- Reduce heat to 425 degrees and bake until it is puffy, about 15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes,, until it is inflated, the cheese melts, and the top is firmly set and it is taking on color; a total of 20- 25 minutes.
- Serve immediately, while fully raised. It will deflate somewhat but will remain puffy. It is also good served at room temperature. Serves 4 or more.