We finally stopped by the new Trader Joe’s today. People were stumbling up and down the aisles like they’d just emerged from fallout shelters, mesmerized by the groceries, shouting things like, “Honey! They’ve got onions!”
Seeing them reminded me of an older woman I worked with at the bakery who never quite got the subtle difference between “organic” and “orgasmic.” Every time a group of men would come in, she’d get flustered and say, “You should try our coffees! They are orgazzzmic.” I know, coffee IS an orgasmic experience for some people. But then she’d start talking about the orgasmically-grown vegetables.
Anyway, after the TJ’s experience – “Look, Honey! They’ve got frozen food!” – I was ready for the Lee brothers’ Cheese-Grits Chiles Rellenos with Roasted Tomato Gravy. The poblano is roasted, not deep-fried, and stuffed with cooked cheese grits, so the level of spice is up to you. I used a habanero cheddar in the grits, but a medium cheddar, colby or pepper jack would be delicious and a lot less cleansing. I’ve saved one for tomorrow’s breakfast, but they would also make great sides.
Wait, not just “great.”
Cheese-Grits Chiles Rellenos with Roasted Tomato Gravy
Adapted from Matt Lee and Ted Lee’s “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook”
For 6 people
- 1 large tomato or 4 plum tomatoes (about 3/4 pound)
- 6 medium fresh poblano peppers
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 3 cups cooked cheddar cheese grits
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- Core the tomato with a sharp paring knife. Arrange the tomato, pepper, onion, and garlic in a 9-x-13-inch roasting pan, with the peppers gathered at one end. Brush all the vegetables with the olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt. Slide the pan under the broiler (about 3 inches from the flame or heating element), with the peppers nearest you; you’ll be turning them frequently as they roast. Turn the peppers every 3 minutes until their skins are blistered and blackened all over, about 9 minutes total. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl. Transfer the tomato, onion, and garlic to a medium bowl, and let them cool. Set aside the roasting pan.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- When the peppers are cool enough to handle, gently massage their skins to remove them and discard. Cut a 3-inch slit down the side of each pepper and gently spoon out the seeds and any whitish, fibrous veins. Fill each pepper with 1/2 cup cheese grits, and place in the roasting pan.
- When the tomato, onion and garlic have cooled, remove the skins from the tomato and garlic. Process the tomato, onion and garlic in a blender or food processor, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the peppers.
- Bake the peppers on the middle rack until the tomato sauce bubbles gently, about 15 minutes. Scatter the cheese on top, and place the pan under the broiler about 2 inches from the flame or heating element until the cheese has browned. Serve immediately.