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Creamy Chicken & Greens with Roasted Poblano & Caramelized Onion

By 3:40 PM , , ,

I'd been wanting to make this recipe from Rick Bayless ever since I received his Fiesta at Rick's cookbook for Christmas a couple of years ago.  Our Little One's Dora the Explorer Birthday Fiesta was the perfect time to try it out and I could not have been more pleased with the results.

The smokiness of the roasted poblanos and earthiness of the thyme play wonderfully against the rich, slight sweetness that you get from the caramelized onion.  The chicken and greens really take on these flavors.  And while this does contain crème fraiche, I would not describe this as creamy tasting - the crème fraiche really works to meld all the parts together into a thick filling and also imparts a slight tanginess.  I love the mixture of greens as well - they bring lots to the dish - sweetness, bitterness - it all depends on the greens you choose to use.

While we served this with both corn and flour tortillas, it is equally good on its own.  I chose to eat this on its own and it was hearty and I didn't miss the tortillas.  Serving this over rice would be another option and I think this would also be delicious spooned over tortilla chips and topped with some queso fresco to make some killer nachos.

A few notes:
- I doubled the recipe with no issues.
- I couldn't find the lamb's quarters greens, and instead used 1/3 spinach, 1/3 collard greens and 1/3 swiss chard.
- Don't skip the fresh thyme - I really think this added a nice, faint woodsiness in the background.
- If I was making this for a less tastebud diverse group, I would have added crushed red pepper flakes for some nice heat.

Creamy Chicken & Greens with Roasted Poblano & Caramelized Onion

2 fresh poblano chiles
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, plus a little more if needed
3 medium (about 1 1/4 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
5 cups (lightly packed) coarsely chopped, stemmed greens (about 1-inch pieces is good)—you’ll need about 6 ounces spinach, 4 1/2 ounces Swiss chard, 3 ounces wild lamb’s quarters (quelites)
1 cup chicken broth
A little fresh thyme
1 cup Mexican crema, crème fraiche or heavy (whipping) cream

Roast the chiles.  Roast the poblanos directly over an open flame or 4 inches below a broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, about 5 minutes for a flame, about 10 minutes for the broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel and cool until handleable.  Rub off the blackened skin, then pull out the stem and seed pod.  Briefly rinse to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin.  Slice 1/4- inch thick.

Brown the chicken.  In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high.  Generously sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt on both sides and lay them into the pan in a single layer.  When browned underneath, about 4 minutes, flip them over and reduce the heat to medium. Cook on the other side until browned and medium-rare (a little slit in the thickest part will reveal a rosy interior), 5 or 6 minutes more.  Transfer to a plate.

Finish the dish.  To the skillet (still over medium heat), add the onion.  If there isn’t enough oil to lightly coat the onion, add a little more.  Cook, stirring regularly, until richly browned and sweet, 8 or 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the chicken into 1/2-inch cubes.  Add the garlic to the skillet and cook 1 minute, then add the greens, broth and thyme (if you have it).  Raise the temperature to medium high.  Cook until the liquid is nearly gone and the greens are almost tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the cream and cook until it is noticeably thicker (it’ll be a rich glaze) and the greens are fully tender, about 5 minutes more.

Taste and season the mixture in the skillet with salt, usually 1/4 teaspoon. Stir in the chicken, let heat through for a minute to two, scoop into a serving bowl, and enjoy without hesitation.

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