Top | Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
Tacos of Poblanos, Potatoes, and Creamy Braised Chard
(recipe, Rick Bayless)
There is something about this creamy combination of greens and green chile that I want to taste time and again. Cream and poblanos are meant for each other, while the greens give the mix a grown-up flavor, and the potatoes make it more substantial. The preparation is rich and simple, a great vegetarian starter, or light main dish.
- 12 oz. (4 medium-large) fresh poblano chiles
- A scant 1 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, sliced ¼-inch thick
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- A generous ¼ tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- A generous ⅛ tsp. dried thyme
- 16 to 18 corn tortillas (plus a few extra, in case some break)
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 3 medium (about 10 ounces total) red-skin boiling potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 6 cups loosely packed, sliced red or white chard leaves (slice them ½-inch thick; you’ll need a 12-ounce bunch)
- ½ to ¾ cup whipping cream or crème fraîche
- ½ to ¾ cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or pressed, salted farmer’s cheese (optional)
- Make the rajas: Roast the chiles directly over a gas flame or 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on all sides (about 5 minutes for open flame, about 10 minutes for broiler). Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand 5 minutes. Peel, pull out the stems and seed pods, then rinse briefly to remove bits of skin and seeds. Slice into ¼-inch strips.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until nicely browned but still a little crunchy, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs, toss a minute longer, then stir in the chiles.
- Warm the tortillas: Set up a steamer (with this many tortillas, you’ll need 2 vegetable steamers set up in saucepans or a big Chinese steamer; for either choice, put ½ inch water under the steamer basket) and heat to a boil. Wrap the tortillas into 2 stacks in heavy kitchen towels, lay in the steamer(s), and cover tightly. Boil 1 minute, turn off the heat, and let stand without opening the steamer(s) for about 15 minutes.
- Make the filling: While the tortillas are steaming, prepare the filling. In a small saucepan, combine the broth and potatoes, cover, and simmer over medium-high heat until nearly tender, about 15 minutes.
- Pour the potatoes and broth into the rajas pan, mix in the chard, and boil over medium-high heat until the broth has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Mix in the cream and continue to boil, stirring regularly, until the cream is reduced enough to coat the mixture nicely. Taste and season with salt.
- Serve the dish: Scoop the mixture into a warm, deep serving dish, sprinkle with the cheese if you’re using it, and carry to the table along with the warm tortillas in a cloth-lined basket for your guests to assemble al gusto.
The poblano rajas can be made several days ahead, but it is best to finish the dish shortly before serving.
Variations and improvisations: As you might expect, a simple dish like this can be varied in many ways. Serve it with grilled chicken (or dice the grilled chicken and stir it in); replace the cream with 1/4 to 1/3 cup yogurt (just heat it through, but don’t boil; it’ll curdle); or don’t reduce the cream, stir in a little chopped ham, and toss with cooked egg noodles or bow-tie pasta and sprinkle with lots of chopped cilantro before serving.