Let's take a minute to discuss something that I can’t wrap my head around. Vegan Butchers! My friend April likes to just say those two words to get me all worked up and start ranting. What in the hell is a Vegan Butcher?
A butcher by definition is a person who slaughters animals. Last time I checked vegetables are not animals. Are we herding heads of broccoli now? “Hurry Tom that little one is breaking through the fence!” I am sure they make great non-meat options. But are you a butcher? You cut, julienne, macerate, peel and such. Vegan artist, okay, vegan chef, okay, inventor of great meatless options, okay but a butcher? No sorry, I don’t think so. Since this in no way affects my life It really shouldn’t bother me but it does. Maybe I am a stickler for the classics? Maybe I’m just becoming a grumpy old lady who hates change (admittedly I stuck in my ways)? I’ve always loved the art of butchery and its rich history. I love How it’s one of those old professions that's still left that you have to train in, learn from old masters and master your craft. Well, at least now I can get some of my aggression out by butchering a mean head of Broccoli.
I’m pretty safe in Lafayette from experiencing any kind of vegan butcher. We have a lot of butchers here but I can safely say none of them a master of the vegan style. Most places in the world have stores with something additional in it. New Orleans, they have po-boys, California they had all kinds of ethnic food served in the back. Through my travels, I have always found a store with some extra something in the back. Here we have butchers. You walk into a little store with a couple aisles and a small selection of produce. Then you head to the back for what you're really looking for. As you exit the aisle there it is - a shiny clean glass case with a selection of all the cuts of meat, smoked sausages, fresh sausages, stuffed chickens and always BOUDIN.
When I was a kid we weren’t supposed to eat unhealthily but how can you resist when you know just blocks away is a steamer full of links of fresh hot Boudin. I was not above hiding links of Boudin under my bed (sorry Dad). The way kids save their pocket change and buy individual candies I would save mine to get a link of Boudin. Boudin, like all of our local dishes, is highly debated. Everyone has their favorite, (usually whatever place you grew up next too is your favorite.) Mine? Earls and NuNu’s. I love their boudin with a burning passion. It's just the right amount of meat to rice, not too wet, not too dry and spicy (I hate bland boudin). I am sure I will get an outcry from the T-boys lovers, the Mowater diehards, the Don’s addicts (all boudin shops here.) Sorry y’all but I am not cheating on my favorites.
Lately, there is a new trend of combining Boudin with other loved dishes. Boudin-stuffed everything. We even have Boudin stuffed king cakes. As you can see this new trend was accepted with open arms. My contribution a combination Boudin Stuffed Chile Rellenos. My stint in California opened my eyes to what a great Chile Relleno is. Roasted peppers stuffed with a beautiful melty latino cheese. Roasting your peppers is an important part. You can get the whole canned ones but then you're missing that fire-roasted flavor. The cheese - try to get the nice melty ones like Queso Asadero or Queso Quesadilla, most big chains carry at least one of these options.
Now the boudin, I will be posting a recipe soon for those that can’t get it easily. If you don’t have access you can either leave it out or replace it with things like pulled pork, sausage, beef, the options are limitless. It's a laborious process but worth it. It makes up for the hard work with so few ingredients.
Boudin-Stuffed Chili Rellenos
6-8 large poblano chiles (about 2 pounds, roasted, peeled, stemmed, slit down one side, and seeded)
4 cups grated melting cheese (such as oaxaca, asadero, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack)
2 links Boudin
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs (separated)
Canola or safflower oil, for deep-frying
1. Place Chilies over an open flame till all sides are charred and starting to blister. If you have no flame you can place them in the oven at 400 till roasted. Place in a paper bag for about 10 minutes. Remove and peel off all the black charred skin. Sometimes if the rest too long the skin can stick, I find running them under warm water as I peel helps the skin come off.
2. Once cooled make a slit on one side and remove seeds. Be every gentle this wear most tearing will happen.
3. Gently blot off any moisture with a clean towel and set aside.
Put equal parts cheese and Boudin into a chili.
Seal it with a toothpick. This takes me a couple tries and I always have a few that looked like I did it drunk but I am a klutz.
Continue with the rest and set aside.
Heat up your oil over medium-high heat. It's important you get the oil hot enough to instantly seal up that batter.
While oil is heating prepare your batter.
Put your flour in shallow bowl or pan. Set aside.
In another bowl gently beat your egg yolks until smooth.
Place egg whites in a medium-sized bowl and beat with a hand mixer till firm and almost soft peaks.
Gently fold in your egg yolks into the egg white mixture till combined. You may have to do this batter more than once if you live in a humid environment like me, it's not very tolerant of the heat.
Once your oil is heated its time to batter the chilis.
One at a time coat the chili in flour and then dip into the egg batter and coat.
Place battered Chili in your oil. After about 15-30 seconds gently spoon the hot grease on top of the Chile till the batter starts to cook and seal up. I prefer to do two at a time so that I am not crowding the pan and have room to get my spoon in.
Continue to spoon hot oil over the Chile till the bottom is nicely browned. At this point since the top is sealed if it is not browned enough, you can flip it and cook till its browned, I find this takes less than 30 seconds.
Place on wire racks to cool.
Once cool enough to handle, Serve.
I like to serve mine with the Salsa Rosa that you will find on the blog.
Don’t let them sit too long or your cheese will solidify again.