I’ve always worked in offices before I started freelancing in social media marketing, and in offices there are often potlucks. There is always a baby shower, birthday, holiday, wedding or something to celebrate with that second family we spend so much of our daily lives with. Our co-workers and team members matter to us, we bond, we can be dysfunctional or work together smoothly but since we spend so much time with each other, we tend to find reasons to celebrate together as well. If you’re anything at all like me, you tend to agonize over what to take. Potluck food should be good enough to impress all the participants, simple enough that you can make on a rushed weeknight, portable so it doesn’t spill all over your car and if it’s too be hot, something easily re-heatable that holds together well. Not so easy is it?
Years ago I hit upon my sure-fire potluck hit and I’ve stayed with it and perfected it over the years. Ok, it’s not perfect if you have vegans or lactose intolerant visitors there which is why I make two things for any potluck I go to, but for the rest this dish is luscious, rich, creamy and not in the least bit good for silly things like waistlines. Drum roll please…rajas con queso y crema. Strips of chile with cheese and cream. Sounds good, que no? Well it is.
Rajas con queso y crema are an old favorite in my house and one that gets asked for a lot. Roasted poblano peppers, butter, queso fresco, onions caramelized in butter and sour cream all combine to make a delectable, creamy vegetarian dish that is substantial, portable, easy to make and sure to make you the hit of the potluck event. People will be talking about your rajas for weeks afterwards. I use a slow cooker to transport them in because I can plug it in when I get to work, set it to low and the rajas will be hot and perfect by lunchtime without curdling the cream. On the way to work, stop at the market and grab a baguette or a loaf of French bread (sliced if you can get it) and you’re good to go. There are a lot of different way to make these and each Mexican cook has her own preference – this is just mine. I prefer the sour cream texture over the more traditional Mexican crema and somewhere some nice Mexican cook is screaming that this recipe isn’t the right one. Pero sabes que? It’s my recipe and I like it, so there.
This recipe makes a whole slow cooker full but no worries, you won’t be taking any back home.
Gina’s Rajas con Queso y Crema
About 8-10 fresh poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and de-veined then cut into 1/4 inch wide strips. (If you can’t find poblanos, pasillas will do. If you reall can’t find fresh chiles or don’t want to be bothered you can use Ortega green chiles but I really don’t recommend it AT ALL, proceed at your own risk)
About 1 tbsp of Knorr Pollo – Knorr Chicken Flavored seasoning powder
2 golden onions, sliced into thin rings
1 round of queso fresco (1 pound)
1 quart of sour cream
1 stick of butter (yes 1 stick – I told ya this wasn’t good for your waistline. You people who are already revising my recipe with something healthy, it’s just not gonna be the same or as deliciously creamy)
Roast the peppers on a comal or in the oven until the skins are blackened. I wrap them in a clean, damp dishcloth to let the skins steam off and while they are steaming, I prepare the onions.
Melt the stick of butter in a deep saute pan, a deep stir fry pan works great for this and add in the onion rings. Sautee until the onions are caramelized and a deep golden brown. Add the Knorr Pollo to taste and stir.
Peel, seed and de-vein the chiles then cut them into thin bite sized strips, set aside.
Crumble the queso and add to the onion mixture a bit at a time, stirring constantly until it melts. As you add more queso it will be come thicker and hard to stir. Keep going. When the queso is all melted in one big goopy mess and probably wrapped around your spoon, it’s ready.
Scoop that mixture into the slow cooker and add the chile strips and all of the sour cream and stir it till it all blends together into a creamy, buttery sauce. Refrigerate overnight in the removable pot part of your slow cooker covered if you are taking it to the office. If not, serve immediately.
Plug in the slow cooker about four hours before serving and set to low. Serve with slices of French bread or baquette. Alternatively, you can serve over white rice.