From Season 8, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 6as a first course or light main dish
- Prepare the escabeche. In a large (10-inch) skillet, heat the the olive oil over medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until beginning to brown but not too soft, about 5 minutes. Add the piloncillo (or brown sugar), vinegar, red wine, herbs and 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer over medium-low for 15 – 20 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Prepare the chiles. Use a small knife to cut a slit in each chile from stem end to point. Carefully (so as not to rip the chile) remove the seeds with knife or fingers. On a ungreased skillet or griddle heated over medium, toast the chiles one or two at a time, pressing them against the hot surface with a metal spatula for a few seconds, then flipping them and pressing the other side. They will not change color—just fill the kitchen with their roasted chile aroma. Place the toasted chiles in a baking dish and cover with the escabeche. Weight them with a plate to keep them submerged. After the chiles have rehydrated for 30 minutes, carefully remove them from the escabeche and lay on a plate. Pat them inside and out with paper towels. Set aside the escabeche for serving.
- Prepare the filling. While the chiles are soaking, roast the unpeeled garlic in the skillet (or on the griddle) over medium heat, turning regularly until it is softened and blotchy-black, about 15 minutes. Cool, peel and, in a medium bowl, mash to a coarse puree with a fork. Mix in the ricotta, cilantro and black pepper. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Fill each chile with a portion of the ricotta mixture and lay on a deep platter, seam-side down. Spoon the escabeche over the top, decorate with cilantro and the dish is ready.