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Chile of Brotherly Love

Posted Feb 14 2011 9:05pm
Let's talk about love. [ Source ]
As in, "the city of brotherly." [That would be Philadelphia, in its translation from Greek.*]

*Something you learn as a young child growing up in Pennsylvania when studying state history. Much like the fact that Pennsylvania literally means "Penn's Woods," named for famous Quaker, William Penn.^
^And yes, if you are like me, you will forever imagine him as the man on the Quaker Oats oatmeal canister.
But I'm not here to talk about oatmeal. Or Quakers. Or Pennsylvania as a whole. Because according to the recent food-by-state mapping , the only thing that matters to PA when it comes to food is the gooey mess of beef and cheese (or an imitation known as Cheez Whiz) hails from the city of Philadelphia, and goes by the name of cheese steak. (That's Mr. Cheesesteak* to you.)

*I have already been so tangential thus far that I'm not sure it is a good idea to point out the confusion of whether cheesesteak is actually a compound word or two separate words with cheese functioning as a noun-turned-adjective. I will freely interchange them as I wish.

If I've said it once, I've said it 100,000 times...despite having grown up 45 miles outside of Philadelphia, I've never eaten the "delicacy" the city made so famous, it's hard to talk about without appending "Philly" as a modifier. I've had my dad's (very delicious) version growing up, sure, and watched people eat them in the wee hours of the morning while a college student in Virginia (something I inexplicably scoffed at, saying "that's not a real cheesesteak"---never revealing the truth that I wouldn't have known a real one should my teeth have happened to sink into it). So, I'm no authority on the chopped-or-sliced beef sandwich covered in Provolone-or-Cheese-Whiz, and I'll leave the fans of Pat's and Geno's alone to battle out those controversial decisions. [Besides, Adam Richman went to Tony Luke's ...and when I finally get a nibble of my state's most famous sandwich, it will be where Adam has gone . Obviously.] Since I have no loyalty to any of those places...I figured, why not bring together the most famous sandwich from my home state, and add a little Texas spin? After all, it's about time the City of Brotherly Love met the state whose motto is simply: friendship.
[ Source ] (No. No it doesn't. Tejas means Texas. And kindergarten is too young to try and teach metaphoric symbolism.)

Lucky for me, I recently won a $250 stipend from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program and the Texas Beef Council to create four healthy lean beef recipes . And it is in that spirit, the the spirit of Tex-Mex cuisine, that I bring to you the chile of brotherly love: Texas "Cheesesteak" Chiles Rellenos to be more specific.

Although your typical chile relleno is deep-fried, I recently went to a restaurant where the chile was left, thankfully, uncrusted, which reminded me of a stuffed pepper. So as was I was thinking about turning cheesesteak into something "Texas," I thought, "What would a true Texan want to stuff his cheesesteak into? Obviously, a chile."* And from there, a star was born. (By the name of Barbara Streisand.)

*OK, that's probably not true. He'd probably just eat it on a bun. Like they do in Philly. But whatever. Go with it.

To keep us on the healthy side of life, I chose super lean ground sirloin, but you can substitute extra lean ground beef of any type. Part of the key to incorporating beef as a healthy part of your diet, maintaining low saturated fat intake and all that jazz, is to "beef" up your recipes with other meaty ingredients....like mushrooms... ...and beans. For this recipe you'll also need some other staple Tex-ican ingredients poblanos, jalapenos, Anaheim chiles, cilantro, and white onion Although you'll need a large pepper for stuffing, if you can't find un poblano grande, you could substitute with a bell pepper of your choosing, although the effect and taste would be a bit different. The Anaheim chile is milder than the jalapeno, but you can use two jalapenos if you can't find an Anaheim...or two Anaheim chiles if you want less heat. Because I seeded them, there wasn't all that much of a kick, so don't be scared!
(OK, so I missed a few seeds. Deal with it.)

Chop up 8 oz. of "beefy" mushrooms, so you have about 3 cups of diced fungi. (Everyone says that portabellas are the "meatiest," and therefore we can presume that baby bellas are also quite "meaty," and I can tell a difference between them and regular ol' buttons. But really? I wouldn't have used the bellas if they hadn't been on sale this week. So use whatever you want. Heck, you can even buy a big, fat portabella and cut that up!) You'll also need to dice up a whole medium-sized white (or yellow..or red...whatever) onion, so you have about 2 cups. In a skillet, cook up 1/2 lb. lean ground sirloin or beef until just cooked through. Set it aside, but no need to clean the pan. Into the now empty pan, add the onions, jalapenos, and Anaheim chiles.
Once the onions are a little cooked and slightly translucent, add the mushrooms.
Stir everything up... ...and cook until the 'shrooms are soft. (Don't worry if they've still got a bite. After all, once you stuff the chiles, they'll be going back into the oven for at least 30 minutes, so there will be more cooking time in their future.) Add 1 cup cooked or canned (rinsed/drained) black beans... ...and the cooked beef. For a little seasoning, add 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and chili powder. Mix it up and cook for about 3 minutes over low-to-medium heat... ....just to allow the spices to sort of meld together a bit. Now comes the cheese in cheesesteak! I used 1/3 cup of a grated Monterey Jack/cheddar blend, but you can choose any melty cheese you like. Remember: the sharper the flavor in the cheese, the less you need to use! Add about 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or more or less depending on your love of this particular herb)...
...and stir your filling altogether!
You can now remove the pan from the heat (since you'll be cooking it in the oven again anyway), and set your oven to 450 degrees. While it is preheating, prep your peppers.
Slice the poblanos down the middle...
...and pull out the inside hub of seeds.
Leave the stem in tact if you can (I used a knife to just slice off the inside part), because a bunch of the fun of eating a chile relleno is having the stem still on it! [Maybe that's just me..]
Get your cheesesteak filling...
....and stuff 'em up!
Cook them at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the chiles are wrinkly and soft enough to cut and eat!
Make some rice and/or a nice green salad for accompaniment...
...and enjoy a taste of Philly-in-Texas. They should totally serve these at that restaurant chain called Texadelphia .
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Texas "Cheesesteak"
Chiles Rellenos
1/2 lb. super lean ground sirloin
1 white onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 Anaheim chile, seeded and finely diced
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, diced (about 3 cups)
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 cup grated Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or any other melting cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 poblano peppers (about 2 lbs.)

1. In a large skillet, cook beef until browned. Remove beef and set aside.
2. In the same skillet, cook onion and chiles until onion is softened and just turning translucent.
3. Add mushrooms to the pan, and cook until softened.
4. Stir in black beans, beef, chili powder, and cumin. Cook for about 3 minutes.
5. Add cheese and cilantro to the pan; stir until cheese has melted into the beef and veggie mixture. Remove pan from heat.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
7. Prepare poblanos by cutting down the center and removing the inner seed "hub," leaving the stem in tact.
8. Stuff poblanos with beef mixture, and cook in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the poblanos are soft and just wrinkly.
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