I love Mexican telenovelas! I mean what could be better than watching Fernando Colunga riding his horse, getting in sword fights and saving his damsel in distress? In Lebanon, they are dubbed in Arabic which spoils the fun, but in the US, you get them in the original version; so, if you are trying to learn Spanish, park yourself in front of Latino TV; of course, the males in your entourage will pooh-pooh this! (don’t pay attention).
I discovered poblano cream through my Mexican friend Conchis De la Fuentes; Conchis made a pasta dish with poblano cream: heavenly! One of those things that you taste once and never forget! Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in Dallas do not have dishes with poblano cream on the menu for some reason, but it is a classic of Mexican cuisine and usually used as a topping for baked chicken. Here I incorporated the poblano cream in a risotto, instead of the pasta that Conchis uses; and since in Mexico poblano cream is served with chicken, I made Lebanese chicken wings instead.
What is poblano cream anyway?
Poblanos roasted, seeded and pureed with chicken broth and cream.
The arborio is courtesy of a Texas rice grower and of excellent quality.
INGREDIENTS: 6 servings
- 300 g of arborio rice (1 and 3/4 cups)
- 2 small onions, one for the risotto and one for the poblano cream
- olive oil
- 3/4 cup of grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup of mascarpone or any creamy white cheese (I used fromage blanc); you could use a white cheese spread
- chicken broth, as needed
- 1 cup of white wine
- 8 ounces of boneless chicken wings
- 4 large poblano peppers
- scant cup of whipping cream
- cilantro pesto for the wings (optional): use some garlic, cilantro and olive oil
I made this dish in three steps, over several days, a little bit each time; everything can be done ahead, including the risotto!
First Step: Making the poblano cream (can be made ahead and frozen)
- Place the poblanos on a foil-lined cookie sheet and broil them, turning them till the skins are totally blistered and black.
- Immediately drop them in a plastic bag in which you have poured a couple of tablespoons of oil. Close the bag tightly and wrap in a kitchen towel and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so.
- Open the bag and take each pepper and skin it and deseed it over the sink and running tap water. Drop the peppers in a blender or food processor.
- In a small skillet, heat a bit of oil, add an onion cut in quarters and fry till golden. Add the chicken broth and cook for 20 minutes. Add the cream, salt and pepper. Drop the mixture in the blender and puree the poblanos with this mixture. Taste. Add more cream if you like it creamier, adjusting the seasoning as you go. Cook the poblano sauce in the saucepan for 15 minutes or so; either use right away or freeze.
Second Step: Making the chicken wings:
- Heat some olive oil, drop the mashed garlic and chopped cilantro, fry for 15 seconds; throw in the wings, brown them a bit and add some chicken broth or water.
- Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes on low simmer. Set aside.
Third Step:Making the risotto:
- Set all the ingredients close by: risotto, onion,white wine, chicken broth, poblano cream, white cheese, parmesan, salt & pepper, olive oil. Heat some olive oil in a pot, add the onion and fry till light golden; add the risotto and stir-fry till translucent. Add the white wine and cook for a few minutes, stirring till almost evaporated; add the chicken broth one ladle at a time till the risotto is halfway cooked, but still hard in the middle (taste a couple of grains).
- Add the poblano cream and keep stirring, adding more chicken broth, if needed, until the risotto is compact and cooked through but al dente, still firm.
- Finally, incorporate the white cheese or mascarpone keeping the risotto on the stove over very low heat, to melt the cheese, and add the parmesan at the end; taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with the chicken wings.
NOTE: How can you tell if the risotto is ready? Take a wooden spoon and stir big waves of risotto in the pot; the rice should pull easily and follow the movement of the spoon; of course, taste it often!
The poblano cream will be fine in the fridge for a couple of days, otherwise, freeze it.
The risotto can be cooked half-way one day and all the way the next day; don’t believe people who say you have to cook it standing on the stove for the entire time: you can cook it 15 minutes, cool it and refrigerate it; the next day, continue the operation till it is done.
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