Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

Stuffed poblanos with quinoa and chorizo: A Zinful meal

      I’ll admit it, I am consumed each day by lengthy ruminations over what I’m going to eat and drink.  Conversations with my long-suffering spouse almost always involve planning the evening meal and sometimes precipitate disputes that are usually amicably, but sometimes loudly, settled. Then one or both of us will venture out to search for the freshest ingredients and the wine to accompany the agreed upon meal. These almost daily forays inevitably lead to the farmer’s stands at Capitol Market to peruse and then purchase the just picked veggies that are so appealingly displayed.      Like many of my contemporaries, I am trying to eat a healthier diet in the hope that doing so will undue decades of abuse ladled into my arterial system by the constant ingestion of the three most important central Appalachian food groups: lard, red meat and fried potatoes. Therefore, recently I went in search of poblano peppers that would be the centerpiece of a (almost) vegetarian meal.  Poblanos, when dried as they often are, become ancho peppers and are sometimes ground to make chili powder. Anchos can also be re-hydrated and used in sauces.  I found the  poblanos at the Purple Onion inside Capitol Market and, while they  do have a slight measure of heat, they are nowhere near the potency of a jalapeno.      So today, I’m  going to tell you about  a one-course meal that is guaranteed to spice up your day and in a very healthy way. And when you accompany this meal with one of the  juicy zinfandels  I’m going to suggest, you’ll have the perfect summer time repast. You’ll need one large poblano for each adult you’re serving.  For purposes of this recipe, we’ll use the stuffing for two peppers.      Stuffed Poblanos , Quinoa with (or without ) Chorizo.  Okay, here goes.

Shopping list: - Two large poblanos - One clove garlic diced - One quarter medium onion diced - One-quarter cup finely chopped cilantro - Four ounces Monterey jack cheese - One- quarter pound ground chorizo sausage(optional) - Two ounces of vegetable oil - One-half cup quinoa or brown rice - Salt and pepper to taste      For those of you unfamiliar with quinoa  (pronounced keen-wah), it is supposedly the perfect food. It fluffs up like rice and is gluten free with a protein content of 12%. It can also be used as a substitute for pasta and white rice and is very low in carbohydrates.  It tastes good too. If you can’t find it (The Purple Onion usually stocks it), use brown rice as a low-carb substitute or just use white rice if you wish. Preparation: 1. Place poblanos  directly  on the stove top  and char the skin, turning often until most of the surface of the pepper is charred. 2. Place the peppers in a paper or plastic bag for about 20 minutes, remove and peel the skin 3. With a small, sharp knife, cut a slit in top of the pepper large enough to spoon in the   stuffing. 4. Dice the garlic, chop the onion and cilantro and sauté in two ounces of vegetable oil until the veggies are translucent. 5. Sauté’ the chorizo and drain off the fat 6. Combine the quinoa, vegetables, chorizo and shredded cheese in a bowl and allow to cool. 7. When cool, add one egg to the mixture and stir, then stuff the peppers  and add more cheese to the top of each pepper. 8. Place on aluminum foil and on an oven pan and heat through for 30 minutes at 325  degrees (F).

Wine Recommendations:      Spicy, juicy red zinfandel is the perfect accompaniment to this meal.  Try the 2006 Wild Hog Zinfandel ($25) or the 2007 Castle Rock Mendocino Zinfandel ($14 ).  While both have the requisite blackberry juiciness and spice component in spades, the Wild Hog is a fuller-bodied version of Zin while the Castle Rock shows more acidity and is a little less in your face.

A dream come true: chocolate and wine are good fo...
WV restaurants wine Wine Spectator awards