One of the nice things about running this site is that it forces me to try new things all the time (since you wouldn’t keep coming back to see the same set of dishes each week). With all the variety, I’ve come to appreciate how much more there is for me to learn, and on my agenda for this year is to learn more about Mexican cuisine (something I’m always drooling over). So today, I thought I’d share a chicken recipe with you that is topped with mushrooms and a really tasty poblano cream sauce.
This dish comes from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen. In flipping through the book, somehow, this was the first thing I turned to and I was instantly intrigued. The only pepper cream sauce I’d ever had before was with red bell peppers. Poblano cream seemed a lot more interesting, especially combined with mushrooms.
And sure enough, it really was something–the chicken itself was quite simple, but the sauce stole the show. It had a nice, subtle heat combined with the rich, cooling effect of the creme fraiche, but the flavor had that curiously complex flavor you can only get from roasted peppers. Cilantro added a citrusy high note to the sauce while the mushrooms filled in the lower end with a great nuttiness, and all together, it was fantastic.
Also, I was a bit at a loss on appropriate side-dishes, but I followed the original recipe’s suggested green poblano rice. Seems like a very repetitve idea to go alongside the chicken, right? Rice cooked in a broth infused with poblano and cilantro? Surprisingly, it was quite different and paired beautifully (and more interesting than the usual white rice).
- 6 poblanos
- olive oil
- 1 shallot
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 3/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1 cup creme fraiche (or heavy cream)
- 6 leaves epazote (if you can find them–I can’t!)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup cilantro
- ~2 lbs chicken breasts
- ~6 oz mushrooms (shitake, oyster, or chanterelles)
- Green Poblano Rice
- 1 2/3 cups chicken stock
- 2 poblanos
- 12 sprigs cilantro
- ~1/2-1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup rice (preferably medium grain)
- 1 shallot
- 5 garlic cloves
Green Poblano Rice
In a saucepan, boil the stock and add the poblanos, simmering on medium-low for 10 minutes. Purée this in a food processor/blender along with the cilantro and strain the result into a bowl. Mix in the salt.
Finely mince the shallot and garlic. In the original saucepan, warm up the oil and sauté both rice and shallot for 5 minutes. Add the garlic for 1 minute more before adding in the warm stock.
Cover the pot and drop the heat to medium-low for 15 minutes. Sample a piece of rice–if it feels almost done, turn off the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes more. If not, give it 5 minutes more and repeat. Fluff th rice with a fork and garnish with cilantro.
Begin by roasting the poblano peppers. If you have a gas burner on your stove, just hold it right over the flame, blackening on all sides for about 5 minutes total. I don’t, so I used the broiler (get them really close to the heating element) which took around 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover with a towel and leave them alone for 5 minutes to steam in their own moisture. After this, you should be able to peel off the skin, stem, and insides quite easily. If any bits of charred skin are stuck, just give the pepper a very quick and gentle rinse under water. Slice into small, thin strips.
In a hot pan, warm up some olive oil. Sauté the finely minced shallot for 5 minutes or until browned and crunchy. Then add the finely minced garlic as well as the oregano and thyme and sauté for an additional minute. Finally, add the poblano strips to heat them up a bit. At this point, you’ve made “poblano rajas.”
Reserve a third of the rajas, coarsely chop, and set aside. Add half of the cream/creme to your hot pan (along with the epazote if you have it) with the remaining rajas and simmer for 5 minutes before pureeing this mixture in the food processor/blender. Add salt, chopped cilantro, and the reserved rajas. Do you like the texture? If its too thick to work as a cream sauce, add a bit of water to thin it out a little.
Now, set the sauce aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Portion the chicken breasts, lightly salt, and brown them on both sides for roughly 2-3 minutes in olive oil. Spread them out in a baking pan. Sauté the mushrooms in the oil that remains for 5 minutes to soften them. Spread them over the chicken in the baking pan.
Spread the cream sauce over the chicken and mushrooms. Cover the baking pan with tin foil and transfer to the oven for 15-20 minutes. When you take it out, garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro. If you have a prettier looking baking/casserole dish than I have, you could serve right from the pan at the table.
Serve a chicken breast topped with plenty of sauce and a good helping of rice. Enjoy!