Not Afraid of a Mean Little Chile, Are You?

I never thought in the history of this blog that I would be stringing together the words "mild" and "chile" in the same sentence. And, no, I am not referring to some wimpy green bellpepper. I mean jalapeños, baby, and maybe habaneros or serranos, or any kind of chile that you speak of in hushed tones with a trace of trembling fear in some backroom with the lights on. You can and will conquer these chiles with a little help of Mexican crema, a tangy sauce that is closer to crème fraîche than to sour cream. It is the sauce that gives that cool creamy edge to Baja-style fish tacos and enchiladas and other dishes that call for a touch of dairy. No wonder my gatita viejita, who usually abhors chiles, is fascinated with this dish! . . . (You don't need to tell me--as there is nothing as pathetic or as annoying or as interesting, depending on your point of view, as a woman who goes on and on about her cat, I will stop right here. WHAT--you were expecting a pitbull or a chihuahua??)
Perhaps it is an exaggeration to say that crema will completely douse the fire of a hot chile, but instead of crying and calling for the paramedics, you will be making so many yummy sounds that everybody will tell you to shut up. For once, chiles con crema will help you to fully enjoy the chile flavors you were missing out on as you were busy jumping up and down from the pain: the sweetness, the spicy yumminess, the cool-hot-mildness of chiles and crema together. Plus it will help you get people like my friend, Marta, from whom I adapted this recipe.

Marta is not just a fabulous cook, she is just plain fabulosa—someone I would be intensely jealous of if she wasn't so kind and loveable. I envy her perfect teeth, the way her hair shines auburn in the sunlight, how she makes people giddy and smiling like fools, myself included, when she gives them un fuerte abrazo—a big fat hug—and says, "Hi, honeeeeey! ¿Cómo estás?" But mostly, it's her fearlessness, at least where chiles are concerned, that I envy the most. And, how that beautiful fire-eating dragon regularly takes some habanero chiles in her perfectly manicured hand and pops them in her mouth like they were little orange apples. Her salsas are so powerful that, seriously, I believe that her tongue and taste buds have been reduced to scorched earth. I am a bit of a fire breather myself, but there is no way I can compete with Marta. Actually, nobody can compete with Marta.

Until now.
Seeing that I have no desire to torch my treasured little taste buds, I doubt that I will ever be as fabulosa as Marta. But, if eating a fierce chile with crema will miraculously make me as sweet as mi amiga, you can rest assured that I'll gobble up some habaneros with crema and will be loving every minute of it.
Chile Strips With Mexican Crema
Rajas de chiles con crema
The best way to try this dish is with some poblano chiles, mild but bursting with flavor, and some jalapeños. Although I prefer to roast my chiles in order to remove the outer skin, you can omit this step if you want. Adding some sweet onion as you are frying the chiles only makes it all the more delicious. This is so easy to make that you really don't need a recipe. Feel free to experiment with any fresh chile you have on hand, such as Anahiem, Poblano, Jalapeño,etc., depending how hot or mild you want it to be. Serve this with almost any Mexican dish, or in a taco. If you want to kick it up a notch, add a touch of hot red salsa to any mild version of this recipe before taking a bite. If you cannot find crema mexicana, no problem. Sour cream is good enough in a pinch. I like my dish super thick and tangy, so I used El Mexicano's "Crema Superior", a thick acidified sour cream instead. Any of the different varieties of Mexican crema will do. If you need to reheat this dish but the sauce has become too thick for your liking, you can always add a little bit of pourable crema or milk to thin it down a bit.
To learn more about chiles, click here.

To learn more about roasting chiles, click here.

About 6 poblano chiles, or any chile you prefer
4 jalapeño chiles (optional)

About 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

About 1 tablespoon butter

About 1/3 onion, sliced into strips (optional)
One jar of Mexican Crema (about 15 fl. oz); or the equivelent of sour cream or crème fraîche
Salt to taste
Directions:To lightly roast the chiles, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Put the chiles in the pot, and parboil the poblanos for about 6 minutes. (Only about 4 or 5 minutes in the boiling water for the jalapeños). Remove the chiles from the pot and place them on a platter.

Using a pair of metal tongs, take each chile and hold it over the flame of a gas burner of your stove. You will see the skin of the chiles burst almost instantly. Do the same for the jalapeños. Quickly place each chile as you are done roasting it and place it in a plastic bag, but covered very loosely. You do not want your Poblano chile to be overly cooked and soggy.
When the chiles cool somewhat, use the back edge of a knife to scrape of the charred outer skin of each chile (see picture, above). Cut the chiles open lengthwise, and remove the seeds and stem. Do the same for the jalapenos. Now slice the chiles in long strips for the poblanos, crosswise for the jalapeños. If you like, you can slice up some onion into long strips, too.
Over medium-low heat, melt the vegetable oil and the butter together in a medium sized saucepan. Add the chiles and the onion. When the chile and onion are soft and its aroma fills the kitchen, lower the heat and add the crema to taste. (You can always use the leftover crema for something else). Once the crema is just hot, remove from the heat and season with salt to taste. Pour into a large bowl and serve right away.

Serves about 6 people.
Now you can eat chiles without fear.


Anonymous said...

Looks good. I'll try it. So happy to have you back. We've missed you.

Michael G

Leslie Limon said...

It's always nice to see a new post from you! Y mas cuando es un platillo que me encanta! I love Rajas con Crema. I've never tried it with a little jalapeño, but I will next time. Sounds DELICIOUS! :)

Anonymous said...

i've never had this, it sounds good!

Gloria said...

Yum yum. I just made some. I've got a lot of chili pasilla still on the plant and anaheims and I've done it with both. I love habaneros, they have a beautiful taste, hot but good. Nice to see you post. have a great week.

Lorena said...

a great side dish and most palatable way to eat your veggies!

Clementina said...

Hola Michael G and Friends!
Nice to be back! Take care and hope you'll enjoy the recipe.

kobico said...

I think I have some anchos in the garden, perhaps those will work. It will be good to be able to do something with them other than making sauces!

Clementina said...

Hola, Kobico
An ancho straight from the garden? Wow, I would love to have a taste(sigh!).

Jan said...

Wonderful. I can't wait to try this. Par-boiling chiles before roasting is new to me.

Clementina said...

Hola, Jan
Parboiling is perfect for a chile that is as thin skinned as a Poblano. As you can see from the pictures, the chile remains pretty much intact--perfect for when you are making chiles rellenos.

~Mo~ said...

I've given you 2 awards, you can go here to claim them:

Mari said...

I am not afraid of a mean little chile, lol. This cream looks delicious. You have great recipes.

Un saludo,

mangocheeks said...

I love chillies.

New to your blog and am on my way to explore it further.

Clementina said...

Hola, Mangocheeks!
Explore away! Tell me, what does a mango cheek look like? Sounds cute!

KarenJ said...

Two things to say: 1) Not to worry. Never enough cats! (Even though I only have two. According to my cats I have one husband too many. According to the huband...)2) Unoforunately , halapenos are few and farbetween here although I did find some fresh once. More common are the piri-piri peppers we grow. Those would take a lot more than cream to tame them. Even my fire eating spouse is cautious with his home made piri-piri sauce. but since I'm dying to try this, will my frozen stash of jalapenos possibly work?

Clementina said...

Hola, Karen J!
I think that thawing your jalapenos and sauteeing them might be worth a try--Hey, as long as they taste good, no problem!
And I'm with you on kitties. I've loved cats since the first time I found my very first kitten in someone's trashcan when I was just 8 years old.

cptexas said...

Par boiling is new to me too. I roast them directly on the burner now. I used to roast them on the gas grill and close the lid. What a difference. The ones from the grill end up being steamed and mushy. Doesn't par boiling change the texture? Dinner tonight is pork riblets with roasted poblano crema sauce. Yea, rajas con crema and toasty tender pork - 0 fat grams!

Clementina said...

Hola, cptexas!
If you look closely at the photographs, the chiles are not at all mushy. Actually, they are only minimally cooked. Only the outer skin has been burned off. This roasting method that I learned from my mother makes for a chile that doesn't fall apart when you want to stuff it for chiles rellenos, or when you are going to cook it some more like I did for the rajas de chile.
Thanks for asking!

Vittle me this... said...


Peacefully*Chaotic said...

Mmmmmm!i just found your blog through another blog and que sabroso!!!I love it!I haven't come across many mexican or Chicana blogs (I am Mexican-American myself!)and one with recipres rocks!My mom makes rajas and i love 'em!I will definitely be making this!Gracias!I am now a follower as well!=)

Cooking in Mexico said...

There are no mean chiles, just misunderstood ones. :)


Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, Clementina! We miss you. Hurry back.


Clementina said...

Hola, Michael G!
I will be back in January with a story and a recipe for chocolate champurrado.
"Ahi te watch-o!"

Adal said...

This is the recipe I need. Thanks! Saludos, Adal