I wanted to share with you one of my favorite Mexican cookbooks, Casa Marcela: Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias. It has a special place in my heart because she demystified tamales for me. I hadn’t even realized sweet tamales were a thing, and then I saw her pineapple tamales. The whole book is filled with special dishes. Tons of produce. Fresh seafood. Oozy cheese. Yeah, I love it. I’ll get to the review afterwards, so you can get a glimpse of what it offers, but first I wanted to share her recipe for Creamy Beer Shrimp–Stuffed Poblano Chiles with you. Shrimp sautéed with garlic and arbol chiles, then simmered in dark lager and heavy cream, with some cheese stirred in at the end. You need to try this! A huge thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for letting me share the recipe with you.
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Creamy Beer Shrimp-Stuffed Poblano Chiles from Casa Marcela by Marcela Valladolid. Copyright © 2017 by Marcela Valladolid. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Creamy Beer Shrimp–Stuffed Poblano Chiles
This is a showstopper right here. If you are lucky enough to travel through Mexico, you’ll find that there are countless versions of stuffed peppers: with cheese, with meat, with beans, with dried fruit, and here with seafood. This simple, rich, creamy perfection fills the optimal pepper for stuffing: the poblano. Be careful, though, because depending on the crop, they can range from totally mild to pretty darn spicy. Don’t be afraid to smell them at the market: if it stings your nose a little, you’re probably gonna get some fire from the pepper. If spice is what you are looking for, you can certainly use a jalapeño. They are smaller, so you’ll have to purchase a few more to use up all the stuffing, but they also come out great.
SERVES 4 TO 6
4 to 6 fresh poblano chiles
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 dried chiles de árbol
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, and quartered
1/2 cup dark lager beer
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese, or any other white melting cheese
Turn a gas burner to high. Char the poblano chiles directly on the burner, turning with tongs, until blackened all over. (Alternatively, roast in the oven under the broiler.) Place the chiles in a plastic bag and let steam for 10 minutes.
Gently rub the chiles with paper towels to remove as much skin as possible. Using a paring knife, make a slit across the top of a chile just below the stem, leaving the stem intact. Starting from the middle of the slit, slice lengthwise down to the tip of the pepper (cut through only one layer). Open the chile like a book and pull out the seeds and inner membranes. You may need to use a paring knife to loosen the top of the seedpod. Repeat with the remaining chiles.
Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chiles de árbol and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until lightly pink, about 1 minute. Season with salt to taste. Stir in the beer and cook until lightly evaporated, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the cream and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove the shrimp from the sauce and cook the sauce until thickened, about 6 minutes more. Return the shrimp to the pan and add 1/2 cup of the cheese, stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Turn off the heat.
Preheat the broiler to high.
Fill each chile with about 1/4 cup of the creamy shrimp and transfer to a large glass baking dish. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup cheese among the chiles and broil until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about 6 minutes.
My review of the book…..
Casa Marcela: Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias
by Marcela Valladolid
I’ve checked out Marcela’s other books at the library and they were really nice, but I never bought one. This one is a must have. It has wonderfully cozy comfort food, and ultra-fresh, vibrant, healthy dishes, too. The book is beautiful. Highly recommend.
The only negative for me is that there are a lot of selfies where there could be pics of finished dishes. She’s darling, but I’d rather see the food. Many of them are very sweet photos of Marcela with her kids, so there might be Mother’s Day inscription potential there…
My pics and thoughts on the dishes we tried:
1) Picadillo Stuffed Jalapeño Chiles – p 21. We loved these. The sweetness of the picadillo with the slightly tamed jalapeños is just fantastic. The pickled onions on top are a great addition both for flavor and visual contrast.
2) Crispy Potato and Poblano Tacos – p 18. She calls this “carb on carb perfection”, and I think that describes it beautifully. I’d never put roasted chiles in mashed potatoes before, and they’re awesome.
3) Tacobab al Pastor – p 17. These are so cute and delicious. Tacos al Pastor are pretty time consuming. I love this speedy shortcut version. The avocado crema is heavenly.
4) Watermelon, Queso Fresco, and Mint Salad – p 58. Cilantro, basil, chives, scallions, mint, and citrus dressed watermelon and jicama, dotted with queso fresco. This is fabulously refreshing. Such a keeper.
5) Creamy Beer Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Chiles p 102. Wow! This is our favorite so far. Shrimp sautéed with garlic and arbol chiles, then simmered in dark lager and heavy cream, with some cheese stirred in at the end. She’s clearly using a lot more cheese in the photo than mentioned in the recipe, but I’ll stick with the printed amount next time, too. Absolute perfection.
6) Chipotle-Pecan Candied Popcorn – 245. Addictive spicy sweet goodness.
7) Spicy Shredded-Chicken and Chorizo Tostadas – p 12. These are so flavorful and smoky. The avocado’s not supposed to be there, but I can’t resist the creamy contrast against the chorizo and chipotle. Delicious.
8) Jalapeño Roasted Chicken – p 93. Chicken with thin jalapeño slices tucked all over underneath the skin and filled with oregano, parsley, garlic, lime and butter to flavor and fragrance the heck out of it, roasted on a bed of baby potatoes that get all crispy, and soak up the divine drippings. Phenomenal. This kicked the shrimp stuffed poblanos out of first place.
9) Felipe’s Brussels Sprouts – Delicious accompaniment to the jalapeño roast chicken. Be sure to read the header where she suggests to add a little apple cider vinegar at the table.
10) Pomegranate and Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups – p 49. Chicken, pomegranate, feta, and mint dressed in a citrus vinaigrette. Ultra-fresh and flavorful, and minutes to pull together. The chicken was supposed to be cubed, but I made a double batch of shredded chicken when I made the tostadas..
11) Chorizo and egg burritos – p 167. Delicious and easy peasy. Chorizo comes in a 10 oz block. That’s the exact amount between this and the chicken chorizo tostada.
12) Sweet Potato Enchiladas – p 83 with Morita, Guajillo, and Pasilla Salsa – p 148. Sweet and smoky heaven! In the instructions, Marcella has you spoon the sauce over at the end, but her photo has the tortillas dipped in the sauce before they’re filled and rolled, so I went that route, too.
13) The start of the Morita, Guajillo, and Pasilla Salsa. Three different kinds of chiles with garlic, tomato, and tomatillo. My kitchen smells amazing!
14-17) Tamales de Pollo en Salsa Verde – p 191. These are beyond wonderful! I live in Texas, and tamales are the traditional Christmas Eve dinner down here, but I’ve never made them from scratch before. Marcela said not to be intimidated, so I went for it! 😀 If you’re new to tamales, too, you can google “Marcela Valladolid Tamales Queen Latifah”, and watch a quick 2 minute video of Marcela making them (different recipe). In the video, she advises to make sure that you put the masa on the smoother side of the corn husk, so that you’re able to get it off. The tamales go into a steamer, and you have to make sure that the water doesn’t all evaporate. If you toss a penny in the bottom when you start, it’ll rattle if the water runs out and you need to add more. Mine weren’t completely encased in the masa, so I think I have to spread it closer to the edge next time and keep the filling closer to the middle. Quite happy to have an excuse for a do-over. Note to self, I need a deeper steamer basket so they can stand upright! Okay…. It’s been about a year, and I still haven’t gotten a taller steamer basket. ;D
Some others I have flagged to try: Roasted Salmon and Pesto Stuffed Anaheim Chiles, Mexican Turkey Club Sandwich, Ensenada Style Fish Tacos, Massaged Kale Cilantro Salad, Peppercorn Crusted Flank Steak with Mushroom Cream, Crown Roast Pork with Apple and Chorizo Stuffing, Kale Potato Enchiladas Verdes, Hibiscus Mimosas, Mexican Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Orange Glaze, and Cinnamon Ice Cream.
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