Poblano Tomatillo Rice
This is a fabulous rice recipe to pair with most latin main dishes. It’s very flavorful, easy to prepare, and takes the ever boring rice side dish up a notch.
My favorite part of making this rice is toasting the poblano pepper to blacken the skin so that it can be easily removed. The technique I describe below is like pepper torture and if you’re in a bad mood or need to get a little aggressive energy out, preparing poblanos is a brilliant way to do so. I like to stand at a distance, while I force the pepper into the hot skillet until it sizzles and crackles, while hurling insults at it. “Take that you pepper you!” “Think your skins tough, watch me sear it off!” “Burn, mwahaha, burn!” These are the phrases you will hear me yelling if you stand outside my apartment while I toast peppers. And some people have the nerve to say cooking isn’t fun!
Poblano Tomatillo Rice
(Adapted from Dona Tomas by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky)
1 cup tomatillos, roughly chopped
1 poblano chile
1/4 bunch cilantro, stemmed
3 tbs oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
You will need to roast, skin and seed the pepper before being able to process it for the rice marinade. The most consistent way to do so is to heat a cast iron skillet on high with a coating of canola oil. When very hot, put the whole pepper into the skillet, using tongs to rotate the pepper occasionally so all of the skin blackens evenly. If your pepper has groves and ridges you will have to press it quit firmly into the skillet to blacken those parts. This will become easier as the pepper softens from the heat. Once fully toasted, place the pepper into a plastic or paper bag, close it and leave it on the counter for 20 minutes – this will trap the heat, effectively steaming much of the skin off. Remove the pepper from the bag after 20 minutes and peel off any remaining skin, then make a slit in the side to gut the pepper of its seed core.
Soak the tomatillos in cold water for a few minutes, then remove their outer husks. Chop them roughly and place them in a blender with the prepared poblano chile, cilantro and a pinch of coarse salt. Blend them until smooth, then add enough cold water to bring the total amount of liquid up to 3 cups.
Add the oil to a saucepan over high heat. When the oil is heated, add the onion, decrease the heat to medium, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and saute, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes. (Sauteing the rice before cooking will prevent clumping and brings out its flavor). Add the 3 cups of marinade and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat so that the rice is gently simmering, cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender (this may take anywhere from 15-45 minutes depending on the rice you are using – see the instructions on your rice package to determine roughly how long it should cook for). Fluff the rice with a fork and salt to taste before serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro.