Poblano Rajas with Roasted Corn (Pinche Taqueria, Denver)
"My goal was to use foods strictly native to Mexico but with a modern twist," says chef Kevin Morrison of his effort to break into the saturated Denver taco scene. Pinche Taqueria's vegetarian tacos, typical of central and southern Mexico, where people can't always afford meat, have really set it apart. For his green chili tacos, Morrison tempers the intense heat of the chilies with sweet roasted corn, an ultra-Mexican addition that also happens to evoke Morrison's childhood visits to a farm in southwestern Michigan.
• 4 poblano chilies
• 2 ears of corn
• 1 can chipotle chilies in adobo
• 2 cups whipping cream
• 4 oz Cotija (or feta) cheese
• 4 oz sour cream
• 12 tortillas
Roast the poblanos. "Just set the whole peppers directly on a grill or on a burner grate of your stove, over a high flame," says Morrison. "Let them char all over, so the skin really gets black." Remove poblanos from heat, let cool, peel off charred skin. Remove stem, pith, and seeds; cut chilies into strips.
Shuck corn and set cobs directly on a medium-hot grill. Rotate until all kernels have browned. Cut kernels off cob.
Mince 2 chipotles fine, then add to a saucepan with the poblano, corn, cream, and salt and pepper. Simmer.
Crumble Cotija on top. "Sour cream or crema tones down the heat," says Morrison. "And fresh-squeezed lime brings it all together."
Taco Upgrade: Make Your Own Crema
Mexican grocers sell the tangy cream known as crema in your local taqueria, but you can easily whip some up yourself by stirring buttermilk into regular sour cream, giving it a pourable consistency.
Lime zest, lime juice, salt, or chili powder are high-impact additions.