One of the most important things to me about hunting is the friendships that I have made with people who otherwise would have been strangers.
I recently returned from an elk hunting trip to Colorado with two good friends from Grand Forks — Mark Young and Jim Litzinger. We were met at Owl Mountain near Rand, Colo., by Jim Butzien and Duane Pauna of Park Rapids, Minn. We soon were joined by Colorado brothers Tuffy and Ray Hardy and Ray’s son, Colton.
I have know the Hardys and Butzien for about five years and consider them friends. Pauna is new to the group, but his cousin, Darrel Koehler, is a close friend and former co-worker of mine. All of these fellows are knowledgeable about hunting and very personable as well.
And this year, I also met a couple of more guys from the Denver area who are white water rafting buddies of Tuffy. One of them, Steven Barnhill, is a technology teacher with the Jefferson County Public Schools, with whom I immediately made a connection.
Steven is an avid gardener — like me — who likes to preserve his bounty, some of which he shared with our hunting party. One of his specialties is growing peppers of all kinds, including poblano chilies.
I’ve never grown poblanos but plan on doing so next year after sampling some of Steven’s. (He also shared some jalapeno jelly, tomatillo salsa and green salsa that he had made with his wife this fall.
Steven shared some ideas about using the poblanos, one of which ways is to stuff them. And that got me to thinking about making some stuffed peppers other than the classic American bell peppers that are filled with ground beef, rice, onions, tomatoes.
Here is one of the poblano recipes that I came across. It’s a take-off on a Mexican favorite — chili rellenos — which consists of a roasted green Pasilla or poblano chili pepper stuffed with cheese (traditionally queso fresco), and/or (occasionally) minced meat, covered in an egg batter and fried. (It is often served covered with a sauce, although the type of sauce varies widely. It sometimes also is served in a taco with rice, salsa and other toppings.)
Stuffed Poblano Chili Peppers
Nonstick cooking spray
6 poblano chilies
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 1-ounce package taco seasoning mix
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained, rinsed
1 11-ounce can Mexicorn (whole-kernel corn, red and green peppers, drained
8 ounces shredded light Mexican cheese blend
1 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes, undrained, chopped
1 4.5-ounce can chopped green chilies
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13-by-9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut opening in one side of each chile. Carefully remove seeds and membranes, leaving top stem intact; rinse and drain well.
Spray large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add ground meat; cook over medium-high heat for 7 minutes or until no longer pink and thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Add taco seasoning mix; mix well. Add beans, corn and 1 cup of the cheese; mix well. With small spoon, stuff chiles with turkey mixture. Place in sprayed baking dish. Lightly spray tops of chilies with cooking spray.
In small bowl, combine tomatoes and green chilies; mix well. Pour over stuffed chilies in baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until chilies are tender. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutrition analysis per serving (using turkey): 400 calories, 15 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 1,390 milligrams sodium, 33 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams dietary fiber, 6 grams sugars, 32 grams protein.