Monday, September 3, 2012

I Love it When a Plan Comes Together - Anaheim Chiles with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Usually, when I envision a "recipe" in my head, it turns out to be less than thrilling on the plate - flavors don't mix well, the texture is icky, etc.
But this week, I had a stroke of genius.
Anaheim chiles have started making an appearance in our weekly CSA shares, and I knew we'd need to find some new, creative ways to use them this year, aside from the traditional chile rellenos (not my favorite ever).  So I started looking for some inspiration.
And I didn't have to look too hard - the recipe that was attached to this week's share was cheese stuffed anaheims - yum.
But the recipe was more of an appetizer feature - stuff, chill, slice, and serve on crackers.  And while that does sound quite tasty in its own right, crackers aren't really what I'm looking for during dinner time.  At least the recipe got the wheels turning, and once home, I examined the contents of our fridge, and I realized that I had something even better than I had imagined at first.  To say I was excited to make dinner is an understatement.

I slit and seeded those chiles.

And fried up some bacon (making a bit extra for HRH).

Then I mixed some cream cheese and blue cheese with a few green onions and tossed in the bacon, which I'd chopped finely.

I baked the whole concoction until it was done.

And then I ate the whole thing.

Oh, these chiles - they were gooey and creamy and tangy and salty all in one.
You want these.  Now.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Anaheim Peppers

  • 4 large anaheim chiles
  • 4 oz cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
  • 4 oz (or more) blue cheese
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2-4 slices bacon, cut into lardons 
  • cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°.
Set out cheeses to soften at room temperature.  Place lardons in cold fry pan and cook at medium-low heat until crispy.  Drain and cool on paper towel.
While bacon is cooling, mix together until smooth the cheeses and green onions, adding black pepper.  Chop cooled bacon into small pieces and add to the cheese mixture, mixing until evenly blended.  Taste and add more pepper, if necessary.
Slit each pepper, careful to only slice through one side.  Remove all the seeds and veins.  As a note, to ensure that all the seeds have been removed, I like to rinse out the interior of the chile and then pat dry.  If you like a bit of heat, leave some of the veins in - it depends on the chile, of course, as to how hot it might be.
Fill each chile with 1/4 of the cheese mixture.  Using toothpicks, seal up the chile as well as possible in order to keep as much of the mixture from oozing out during baking.
Place chiles on cooking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until chiles are slightly softened (you still want them firm enough to have some resistance when you bite into them).
***If you really wanted to, you could wrap each chile in a slice of bacon before baking.  I can't be sure, but it would probably be delicious.
I should also note that you'll want to have whatever balance you desire of the cream cheese and blue cheese, but remember that blue cheese can often be overwhelming, so I'd start with a 50-50 combination and go from there.  Additionally, the taste of the bacon mellowed during baking, so add a bit more (like one slice) than you think you'll want.

I highly recommend serving the chiles with a chopped salad of sorts, in case you get some that are a little warm or inadvertently miss one of the veins (or leave them in on purpose, if you like the heat).  I chopped up some cucumber, canary melon, green red onion, avocado, and yellow heirloom tomato, adding only a touch of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and pinch of salt.  The sweetness of the melon and crisp acidity of the salad overall made a nice counterpoint to the creaminess of the chiles.
Oh - and don't forget the local beer!  I've made a commitment to buying only Arizona brews for (at least) the remainder of the year, and ordering it whenever possible when we go out.  The Oak Creek Brewing Co. hefeweizen (Sedona) was an excellent choice.
This meal was a delicious taste of summer, and while we in Arizona are going to be sweltering for a while more, if you live somewhere that is seeing those summer nights starting to wane, you'll want to jump all over this.
Oh, and as for overall health of the meal, since I'd run 6 miles that morning, I felt like I needed something a bit heartier, and to be honest, I got about 4 ounces of the cheese-bacon mixture - everything else was veggies.  This is a great example of the vegetables remaining as the star while the protein, fat, etc., from the meat and dairy merely accompanied the greens.  Which, if I'm going to do meat, is really as it should be (as I type this, The Husband is smoking 6 pounds of pork butt and some sausages he's wrapped in hojas, so I'll just ignore the irony of that for now).

How hot do you like your chiles - just a bit of a kick or melt your mouth off?
What veggies do you like to throw together for a chopped salad?
Are you a stinky cheese or mild cheese person?
How do you satisfy "the runger"?


  1. Wow. I would happily inhale every bit of that meal. Totally loving the melon in your chopped salad. I like my chiles with enough heat to let me feel it tingle in my nose, but not so much that it makes the nose run. Gross, but true.

    1. I love that kick, too - if I'm sweating, the heat-to-taste ratio is too high, so the salad was perfect for those bites that clearly showed me that I left in a seed or some of the ribbing (oops). I would make this again and again. Totally worth it.