Pepper Hunter Goes Versatile with the Poblano Pepper

Easy to Grow         Flavorful         Abundant

Pepper Hunter goes versatile with the the Poblano! This is Shepherdess Celeste’s favorite all around pepper.

I love the fire breathing peppers, unique peppers, colorful peppers, but the heart-shaped Poblano captures my heart. I love its flavor, how abundant the plants grow with such ease, and how many dishes I can use them in: from slicing them for omelets or pizza to chili rellenos, to Mole. I prefer Poblano's to bell peppers, hands down. Its sturdy walls keep their shape in all my cooking adventures. 

The Poblano is a mild chili pepper from the state of Puebla, Mexico. When it is dried it is called an ancho meaning a wide chili.

Most people associate mole with either with Puebla or Oaxaca, but the origin of mole poblano, the thick, rich, chocolate-tinged sauce made so famous in the colonial mountain city of Puebla, Mexico, is still disputed, and generally involves many versions of the legend:

The first says that 16th Century nuns from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles, upon learning that the Archbishop was coming for a visit, went into a panic because they had nothing to serve him. The nuns started praying desperately and an angel came to inspire them. They began chopping and grinding and roasting, mixing different types of chiles together with spices, day-old bread, nuts, a little chocolate and approximately 20 other ingredients.

This concoction boiled for hours and was reduced to the thick, sweet, rich and fragrant mole sauce we know today. To serve in the mole, they killed the only meat they had, an old turkey, and the strange sauce was poured over it. The archbishop was more than happy with his banquet and the nuns saved face. Little did they know they were creating the Mexican National dish for holidays and feasts, and that today, millions of people worldwide have at least heard of mole poblano.

The other legend states that mole came from pre-hispanic times and that Aztec king, Moctezuma, thinking the conquistadors were gods, served mole to Cortez at a banquet to receive them. This story probably gained credibility because the word mole comes from the Nahuatl word “milli” which means sauce or “concoction”. Another connection could be that chocolate was widely used in pre-columbian mexico, so people jumped to that conclusion.

Diana Kennedy, the famous cookbook author and television chef, adds a third, less plausible version in her book The Cuisines of Mexico, [Harper & Row:New York] 1972, (p.199-200), “This time it was Fray Pascual who was preparing the banquet at the convent where he (the archbishop) was going to eat. Turkeys were cooking in cazuelas on the fire; as Fray Pascual, scolding his assistants for their untidiness, gathered up all the spices they had been using, and putting them together on a tray, a sudden gust of wind swept across the kitchen and they spilled over the cazuelas.” Thus mixing together such an unheard-of combination of ingredients.

Poblanos can vary in heat and if you let it ripened to red it will be warmer than if you use it green.

If you like Poblano try its cousin the mulato which is darker, sweeter in flavor, and comes with a soft texture.

Here in the Rockies, I grow my Poblano in a greenhouse. They get about 4 feet tall and they are loaded with at least 200 emerald pendant 6 inch peppers. If left on the bush Poblano peppers will eventually turn red. I like them green but that is not always advisable for people with inflammatory conditions.
Poblanos like a soil pH of 7.0-8.5. They do like their sunlight, water and require support from their sprawling nature and heavy fruit.

Poblano’s take about 200 days, from seed to harvest, at a mean temperature of 64 degrees. I use heat mats and begin my poblano’s in February from seed. If one starts an earlier additional lighting is needed so they do not become leggy and one might find they are fighting off bugs such as the notorious aphids. February is just about right. I start in cell trays, and then move to a 2 inch pot, and then a 4 inch pot and their last transplant is the heated greenhouse, around May 1.

Don’t forget to save your many Poblano seeds. They can be easily dried and then put in a paper or plastic bag/envelope, labeled to enjoy the next year. You will have many seeds that you can share with family and friends.

After being roasted and peeled (which improves the texture by removing the waxy skin), poblano peppers are preserved by either canning or freezing. Roast is easy! Cut the pepper in half, remove the seeds, and place the peppers face down on a cookie sheet under your broiler. Broil until charred. Immediately put the peppers in a ziplock bag for about 5 minutes with a cool towel over the bag. Remove the peppers and then peel off the skin. Storing them in airtight containers keeps them for several months. When dried, the poblano becomes a broad, flat, heart-shaped pod; from this form, it is often ground into a powder used as flavoring in various dishes.

We will be using Poblano’s in our Mole creation on January 11th. Only 1 week left to reserve your spot for the extraordinary cooking opportunity. This will be your chance to taste the Poblano before cooking so see if it will capture your heart!