Creamy Roasted Poblanos, Corn and Zucchini Three Ways: taco filling, with roasted chicken thighs, with pasta

Rajas, Elote y Calabacitas Cremosos Tres Estilos: en tacos, con muslos rostizados y con pasta
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Votes: 7
Rating: 4
To roast the poblanos, evenly char the skin over an open flame or close up under a hot broiler. Cool until handleable, then rub off the charred skin, tear open, pull out the seed pod and stem, then briefly rinse to get off any stray bits of skin or seeds. I’ve written this recipe leading you first through the preparation of the vegetable mix, then branching off into the 3 serving suggestions. If you’re using chicken, you’ll want to start roasting it before you make the vegetables. And if pasta is your plan, put on the pasta-boiling water before you do anything else.
Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 3tablespoons vegetable or olive oil or bacon drippings, plus a little more if using chicken (divided use)
  • 3medium (1 pound total) zucchini or Mexican calabacitas, cut into cubes a little less than ½ inch
  • 1medium white onion, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4medium fresh poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 3/4 or 1cup Mexican crema, crème fraiche or heavy cream, depending on how creamy you want the dish to be
  • 1sprig epazote, leaves removed and thinly sliced, plus extra for serving OR ¼ cup chopped cilantro, plus extra leaves for serving
  • As a taco filling:
  • About 1/2cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese like goat cheese or feta
  • 12 warm corn tortillas
  • With roasted chicken thighs:
  • 8 boneless or bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2tablespoons agave syrup or honey
  • 1tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • With pasta
  • 8ounces dried pasta (I like shell, campanelle, orecchiette, anything that’s smallish and will catch the sauce and vegetables)
  • 1cup (2 ounces or more) finely grated Mexican queso añejo or other garnishing cheese like Parmesan or Romano

Instructions

Make the rajas-vegetable mixture. Set a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat and measure in 2 tablespoons of the oil or bacon drippings.  When very hot, add the zucchini or calabacitas and cook, stirring frequently, until it is browned and losing its crunch, about 7 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.  Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and, when hot, add the onion.  Cook, stirring frequently, until richly browned but still a little crunchy, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir for a minute, then add the roasted poblanos, corn, crema (or a stand-in) and epazote.  Let cook at a rapid simmer until the cream has reduced enough to coat all the vegetables. Stir in the browned zucchini or calabacitas.  Taste and season with salt, usually a scant teaspoon.

Serve as a taco filling.  Scoop the creamy vegetable mixture into a serving dish, scatter on the crumbled cheese and more epazote or cilantro, and serve with warm tortillas for everyone to make soft tacos.

Serve with roasted chicken thighs.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a metal baking pan (glass ones can’t withstand the broiler heat at the end), a sheet pan with sides or large ovenproof skillet.  Lay in the chicken thighs, skin-side up.  Sprinkle with salt, flip them over and sprinkle again with salt.  Roast in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes, then flip over the thighs and return to the upper third of the oven for 5 minutes longer.  While the chicken is roasting, mix together the agave or honey, Worcestershire and black pepper.  Remove the chicken from the oven and turn to broil.  Brush or spoon the mixture over the chicken and return to the same shelf in the oven.  Broil for 4 or 5 minutes, keeping a close eye on the pan’s contents, until richly browned.  Serve with the warm, creamy vegetable mixture and a scattering of herbs.

Serve with pasta.  Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente (according to the directions on the package).  Scoop out ½ cup of the pasta-cooking water, then drain the pasta and add it to the warm vegetable mixture.  Stir in enough of the reserved water to give the mixture a creamy texture.  Stir in half the cheese, scoop into pasta bowls and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and herbs.

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