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Celebrate With Corn and Chiles

May 03, 1990|BARBARA HANSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a dish that glorifies two staples of traditional Mexican cooking: corn and chiles.

The city of Puebla is the site of the battle commemorated by this Mexican holiday. Therefore, this festive dish employs poblano (Puebla style) chiles. The chiles are stuffed with corn kernels combined with Mexican style cheeses. Cinnamon and cloves add a delicate spice flavor.

For accompaniments, choose foods that are typical of Mexico--beans and rice, salsa and tortillas.

CORN-STUFFED CHILES

1/4 cup butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

5 whole cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup Mexican cream (crema) or sour cream

14 ounces queso fresco or ricotta

6 ounces asadero cheese or mozzarella, cut into small pieces

12 poblano chiles, roasted and peeled

3 to 4 ounces Chihuahua or mild Cheddar cheese, grated

Heat butter in medium saucepan. Add onion, cloves and cinnamon and cook gently until onion is tender but not browned. Remove and discard cloves. Add corn kernels and salt. If using fresh corn, add 1/3 cup water. Cook over medium heat 20 minutes for fresh corn, 10 minutes for frozen corn. Add 1/3 cup Mexican cream and cook 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Combine queso fresco, asadero cheese and 1/3 cup Mexican cream. Add half the corn mixture, mix well and set aside.

Cut a small slit in one side of each chile. Rinse carefully to remove seeds and veins. Do not remove stems. Stuff chiles with corn-cheese mixture. Chiles should be plump but must close at slit. Heat remaining cream. Place chiles side by side in round baking dish 12 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep or in other shallow baking dish. Pour cream over chiles and sprinkle with Chihuahua cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until chiles are heated through and cheese is melted, about 45 minutes. Reheat remaining corn mixture. Use to garnish chiles or serve on the side as a relish.

Makes 12 servings.

Food styling by Minnie Bernardino and Donna Deane

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