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Roast poblanos for a smoky reminder of Mexico

Staff Writer
Austin 360

From the end of summer to the middle of winter, I track chiles with the weather, stretching my personal chile season out as long as I can.

My favorite chile? The poblano at the height of the season, when it is forest green, shiny and crisp. Later, it will start to turn red and become the precursor to the dried ancho chile, becoming sweeter and as fruity as a raisin.

When I see mounds of poblanos in local farmers' markets, I cannot help but think of rajas, the strips of charred and peeled poblanos that are a standby of Mexican cooking.

I became addicted during my years in Querétaro, Mexico, but I found my favorite rendition of rajas in California at the Super Rica taco stand, Julia Child's beloved spot for Mexican food during her later years in Santa Barbara.

You can add rajas to a variety of dishes to punch up flavor: simple tacos and burritos, queso dips, meat loaf and pots of chili and stews.

You also can make a batch of rajas and freeze them. That's what I do to enjoy poblanos all year long.

My Favorite Rajas

1 Tbsp. canola oil or mild olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion

6 poblano chiles, charred, peeled, seeds removed (see note)

3 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. minced oregano

2 jalapeño chiles, optional

2/3 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet; add the onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Cut the roasted poblano chiles into 1/4-inch wide strips and add to the onions; cook another 5 minutes, adding the garlic, salt and herbs toward the end. For more heat, finely chop some of the optional jalapeño and add to taste.

Add the broth and simmer until most of the liquid is gone, about 10 minutes or less.

Note: Char poblanos over a gas flame, or grill or broil them until blackened, turning to char all sides.