Cook this: Pickled Poblanos Stuffed with Tuna from Treasures of the Mexican Table

Chili rellenos can be battered, fried, and covered in sauce. But they can also be marinated and stuffed for a light meal

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Our cookbook of the week is Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich. Over the next two days, we’ll feature another recipe from the book and an interview with the author.


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To try another recipe from the book, check out: Beef and Potato Chimis.

Chili rellenos can be stuffed with cheese, breaded and fried, or topped with salsa roja. But perhaps lesser known outside of Mexico, Pati Jinich points out, they can also be marinated and garnished with all kinds of salads.

“I (hesitated) to share it because I didn’t know if people would understand outside of Mexico that you have rellenos peppers that aren’t hot, beaten, in sauce,” says the chef, author and host. winner of the James Beard Award Pati’s Mexican table.

Growing up in central Mexico, these stuffed pickled chilies were “a weekly thing.” Now at her home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, they are still part of the regular rotation.

“It’s one of the things you don’t hear about outside the home because you’ll never find it in a restaurant. It’s so intimate, you know. Such homemade food.


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If you prepare your pickled peppers in advance, this dish is relatively quick. (When Jinich is in a hurry, she speeds it up even more by foregoing the potatoes and carrots from the tuna stuffing.)

Jinich pickles the poblanos at least once a month, storing them (along with their marinade) in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Shortly before serving them cold or at room temperature, usually with rice or toast, she stuffs them with tuna salad.

“You don’t stuff them all at once, because when you stuff them with tuna, you have to eat them within 24 hours,” says Jinich.

“But if you have the pickled chilies on hand, they just get better with time. And I think that’s one of the amazing things about Mexican condiments and ingredients, that you have all these things that can really make it easy for people to eat delicious by making things ahead of time.


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In addition to stuffing the pickled chilies with the following tuna salad, Jinich suggests using a shrimp or salmon salad, or any other type of seafood you like.

“It’s versatile,” she says. “So it’s like a tuna Niçoise, sort of, stuffed with a pickled poblano pepper. It’s so delicious.

Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich
Treasures of the Mexican table by Pati Jinich. Harvest photo


For the marinated poblanos:
8 fresh poblano peppers, roasted, sweated, peeled and seeded but stems left intact (see “Poblano peppers: how to prepare”)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced ​​white onions
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
5 cloves, stems removed and discarded, heads crushed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated dark brown sugar or piloncillo
2/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2/3 cup white vinegar


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For the tuna stuffing:
Kosher salt
1/2 lb (227 g) yellow potatoes, peeled and diced small (about 1/4 inch)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced small (about 1/4 inch)
3 cans (5 oz/142 g) tuna in oil or water, drained
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

To marinate the poblanos:

Step 1

Place the roasted poblanos in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer.

2nd step

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and edges begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute, or until fragrant. Add bay leaves, cloves, black pepper, allspice, oregano, thyme, salt and brown sugar, stir and cook for another minute. Add the two vinegars, increase the heat to medium-high, stir and bring to a boil. Boil 3 to 4 minutes to blend the flavors. Pour the hot marinade over the poblanos and allow the marinade to cool. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.


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To make the stuffing:

Step 3

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes, reduce heat to medium-high and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a small bowl. Add carrots to boiling water and cook, 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. Transfer to the bowl with the potatoes.

Step 4

Mash the tuna, mayonnaise and lime juice in a bowl with a fork. Add the onion, celery, parsley and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix well. Gently stir in the cooked potatoes and carrots. Taste for salt and adjust if desired. One at a time, open the chiles at the slit and stuff each with about 1/2 cup of tuna salad. This may sound too stuffed, but you want chubby peppers. It doesn’t matter if they don’t close completely. Garnish with some of the pickled onions.


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Step 5

Serve the stuffed poblanos at room temperature or chilled.

Makes: 8 stuffed peppers; for 4 or 5 people for a light meal

Cook’s notes: Pickled peppers will keep in the refrigerator for at least 7 days, and tuna salad will keep for 2 to 3 days, well covered. It is best to stuff chiles shortly before serving, but stuffed chiles can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

When I’m in a hurry, I skip the potatoes and carrots.

Recipe and image taken from Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich. Copyright 2021 by Pati Jinich. Reprinted with permission from Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.



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