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Roasting Poblano peppers: what went wrong?

Yesterday I roasted a bag of poblano peppers (to make chile rellenos with). I roasted them in my gas oven, under the broiler. However, a strange thing happened with 4 of the peppers. After cooling them down in a bag, I could not remove the skin from them. In parts, the skin was blackened, in other parts, blistered. All attempts to remove the skin resulted in completely tearing the peppers up, so I discarded the ones that were unable to be peeled.
The skin from the rest of the peppers were removed without any problem. This has happened to me a few times in the past. Did I do something wrong, or was there something wrong with the peppers? So strange...

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  1. sometimes the skin sticks tighter. My feeling is often the pepper softens too much before the blistering (not close enough to the broiler for example). Personally I wouldn't have discarded them, but I'm cheap :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: DGresh

      Yep. My three guesses:

      1. Particularly tight-skinned chiles--based on experiences with our home grown chiles, I think this might be related to under-ripeness, but I don't really know.
      2. Incomplete blistering--as Caralien suggests, sometimes it helps to be more directly engaged with the chiles to ensure that the flame properly kisses all parts of the skin.
      3. In adequate "self-steaming". I try to roast as many chiles as I can at one time to create a large mass of hot chiles that will help each other steam off their skins. For this reason, I tend to roast chiles over a grill (not always a viable option). And FWIW, for a "steaming" vessel, I use a bowl with a plate on top rather than a bag.

      1. re: DGresh

        I agree about not discarding the chiles if they get torn or messed up. If you're making rellenos, you can usually piece together strips from damaged chiles. After they're dipped in the whipped egg white batter, they keep together when they're fried. If they've really fallen apart, you can make a sort of casserole which is also quite good.

        BTW, I am really allergic to the capsicum or whatever it is in chiles, and blister the skins outside on the barbecue. If I don't do this I'm a wreck the rest of the day, coughing and wheezing.

      2. We've had better luck with tongs over the gas stove than under the broiler (with the paper bag following).

        If it happens again, you can always puree the unpeeled ones to use as a spread, topping, seasoning, roasted gazpacho base...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Caralien

          please post your recipe for poblano-sweet corn-sweet-shrimp soup - thanks

          1. re: jbytheway

            I posted my soup recipe on the "In search of new shrimp ideas" thread on this board on Sept. 1. It's a fair amount of work, but I think it's worth the effort. Have fun with it!

        2. Poblanos are fickle. When I do rellenos I start with 50% more peppers than what I want to stuff. I puree the stubborn ones for poblano-sweet corn-sweet-shrimp soup.
          I roast them on a gas grill and tend to them assiduously, turning them often and moving them in and out of the hot spots.
          Some have irregular surfaces that makes roasting and stuffing difficult. A very high heat is necessary for a quick blister without sacrificing the firm texture necessry to stuff them. I agree with the poster who suggested that the under-ripe ones are the most difficult to work with.
          EDIT:You can get a fast "blister" in hot oil and really preserve the fresh "snap" in texture.

          1. I also find that I have more trouble roasting poblanos in the winter than in the summer, and have always assumed it was a freshness issue, but don't have any real evidence that is the explanation. One trick I use in the winter is to lightly oil the peppers before broiling. This seems to make it easier to peel them, in my experience.

            1. I agree that rubbing a light coat of oil before putting the poblanos under a broiler seems to help create even blistering. The only time I've had trouble with the skin not coming off is when I have actually cooked the peppers too long and the skin and underlying flesh both burned.

              This summer I was given a giant bag of fresh pobIanos, so I experimented with freezing roasted peppers (after seeding and peeling). I'm happy to report that they freeze beautifully when individually wrapped in saran wrap and then placed in a freezer safe ziplock bag. The thawed peppers are terrific chopped up in winter dishes and it saves a lot of time to use pre-roasted peppers.


              5 Replies
              1. re: Phoo_d

                speaking of freezing, a friend tells me they are easy to peel AFTER freezing
                (I haven't need to try, but I believe him)

                1. re: pitu

                  I'd have to agree with your friend. For chiles that we intend to use whole, we usually freeze the roasted and unpeeled chiles in single layer on a baking sheet and then transfer them to Ziplocs for long-term storage.

                  1. re: hohokam

                    Ah ha! So that's how you do it. I was wondering if there was any way to freeze them and still maintain the whole pepper shape for stuffing, etc. Thanks for sharing!

                  2. re: Phoo_d

                    I agree with Phoo_d that overroasting could be a problem. I just roasted six peppers, and the only parts that I had a hard time with were the areas that I basically burned and let the flesh turn blackish, not just the skin. The rest of the peppers peeled easily.

                  3. I'm guessing the broiler didn't fully blacken the peppers because they weren't close enough to the fire. When I roast peppers I put them directly over the stovetop on high heat. I rotate them slowly until they are pretty much black all around.

                    When steaming them in the bag, make sure you get them in there while they are still very hot, and make sure it is closed pretty tight so they steam well.

                    Good luck in your next round.


                    1. Thanks everyone for the advice. I have tried roasting them directly over the flame on the stovetop (gas), but the smell and the mess are a bit too much. That's a good tip about freezing them, I think I will do that tomorrow morning since I'm not ready to make the rellenos for a few days.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mschow

                        I never "steam" or take any of the flavor (blackened bits) off. There's nothing wrong with them simply blackened and stuffed. Or blackened and pureed for a sauce.

                        1. re: mschow

                          I use a portable gas stove, outside, to burn the pepper skin. While have impaled the peppers on a meat carving fork, it is easier to set them on an inexpensive Japanese grill intended for table top broiling.

                          As for the steaming part, a covered sauce pan works fine.

                        2. I do purdy much like paulj. I go outside to my gas grill and use the side burner. For those who are new to this, the smoke can be deadly. Well, not literally, but I understand American Indians punished their children with hot pepper smoke...
                          I stick a beautiful antique meat carving fork in the end and rotate them so I blister all the surfaces. I have also used a torch. It is important to have high heat and not cook the peppers. I like a sealed container better than a paper sack. I don't worry about the 5-10% of skin I don't get off.
                          Story: SIL and her mom did a bushel of Poblano peppers at one time, without gloves. Their hands started tingling and then burning. I've never worn gloves, though SO sometimes wished I had :), but then I've never done more than four at a time.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Scargod

                            Whatever you do don't do it like in the Chow tip http://www.chow.com/stories/11536, where she tore the hell out of the chile. She totally mangled it! I think she did it too long and got it too cooked/soft.

                            1. re: Scargod

                              I also go outside, but use charcoal as I have no gas grill. I've gotten much better results using this method, maybe because the fire is hotter and the steam is able to escape.

                              I'm allergic to capsicum and roasting them inside created a fit of coughing and sneezing that went on for a long time. In any case, the peppers also came out better using the bbq. the skin came off easily and they don't get as cooked through.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                Hah! You made me chuckle! I thing EVERONE is allergic to capsicum in smoke/vapors. I said elsewhere that some Indian tribes punished their young with the smoke.

                          2. I stick them atop a cast iron flame tamer and put the flame on high. They're easier to manage than holding them directly over the flame, and you can control the even-ness of the blistering more easily than under the broiler.
                            If you have a cast iron skillet, it works just as well.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                              This may be; I haven't tried it. I have tried many methods and I prefer the "marshmallow roasting" technique. I stick my carving fork in the end and turn as necessary over an open gas flame. Or, I use a torch (which I have to go get from the garage)! This has the hottest flame and makes quick work of blistering the peppers without cooking them.

                              1. re: Scargod

                                I guess the advantage for me is I can do about four at a time and I don't have to stand over the flame, can multi-task while they're roasting. But I do toast marshmallows over the flame once in a while. And I've been known to "re-heat" chunks of leftover steak that way.
                                I wish I weren't such a wuss about blow torches; that sounds like the ideal method.

                            2. Gosh I feel your pain, I've tried for about two years to make chile rellenos and I've never been able to get the peppers to cooperate, until I was reading in Rick Bayless's cookbook about an alternate method for blistering the chile's, he feels that they get way overcooked in a standard oven and then when you put them in the bowl with plastic rap or a paper bag it overcooks the pepper even more, so whenever I tried to stuff them they just fell apart, anyways his other alternate method was to dip the chile in the hot oil for a minute then let it cool and the skin comes right off the chile was easy to work with I was actually able to stuff it for the first time, compliments of my new handy deep fryer and the chile rellenos came out perfect and my husband was thrilled THANK-YOU Rick Bayless!!!

                              1. I have found you don't have to peal poblano peppers as long as they are going to cook at least 30 minutes in liquid (stock/broth, cream or tomato based, it doesn't matter) they are soft enough to eat without even noticing the skins are on, just like red peppers.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kanitbeu

                                  I agree 100%. I use them regularly unpeeled in sofrito and in my version of Veracruz sauce. I peel them when I puree them for soup. I never quite mastered rellenos, peeled or not. They do have curious little ribs within them, but those also fade away with slow cooking. Poblanos are my favorite chile by a wide margin, they are so versatile. And purty.

                                2. Seriously! Stop calling stuffed Poblanos, "chile rellenos"!

                                  Chile Rellenos are made with 100% New Mexico Green Chiles. PERIOD!

                                  Poblanos are great peppers and I use them roasted and unroasted in a number of dishes, but they are NOT Chile Rellenos!

                                  STOP calling stuffed Poblanos Chile Rellenos!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: pblanton

                                    Er...In Old Mexico, chiles rellenos are generally made with chiles poblanos. The New Mexican version, which I also love, is simply one regional variant.

                                    You might think the New Mexico version is the only true version, but I'd wager that there are literally millions of Mexicans who would disagree with you on that point.

                                    1. re: pblanton

                                      I have never seen Chile Rellenos made with New Mexico Green Chiles. I live in So. CA, so we have great regional mexican food here. I think the NM chiles would be good, but that's not the norm.

                                      Wikipedia also says it's a poblano, but can be substituted. If you google "chile relleno", the majority of the recipes call for poblanos.

                                      1. re: boogiebaby

                                        As I note above, using NM chiles is not the norm in Mexico, but it definitely has long been the norm in New Mexico and in much of Arizona, where cultivation of the long narrow NM pod types far outstrips than that of poblanos. I don't think dismissing either variant as non-normative makes sense.

                                        1. re: hohokam

                                          When one is near a chile equivalent of the Mason-Dixon line, one should simply ask questions. I will order a chile relleno only if it's a poblano. Stuffed Anaheims or cubanelles don't move my chile needle, and Hatch are for other purposes.