Rajas con crema, a hearty dish made with poblano chiles, onion, crema mexicana and a little bit of cheese, is a favorite in my house. As one friend put it, “anything that comes out of your kitchen at least once a week has got to be good.”
Rajas are particularly popular in central and Southern Mexico, and are so versatile I’ve seen them served as breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can’t speak for all of Mexico, but at least in Mexico City when someone is talking about rajas, they are usually talking about strips of poblanos or this dish specifically.
According to my husband, José, rajas con crema are the best when the poblanos have a spicy bite, but they’re not too hot. Usually you can tell how hot the poblanos are when you’re removing the seeds after roasting because the heat will burn your skin and if you breathe in too deeply, you might cough. In that case, you may want to soak them in a solution of vinegar and water so they’re not too spicy. If those two things don’t happen, sometimes I skip the vinegar and water soak after roasting the chiles. However, f you soak them too long, the chiles are a little sweet rather than spicy but still delicious nonetheless.
If you’ve never prepared rajas before, you’ll want to first read my tutorial on how to roast poblano chiles before you skip to the directions below.
Some rajas con crema recipes call only for cream, and lots of it; others call for so much cheese that it’s more of a queso fundido in disguise. Mexican sour cream isn’t actually sour like American sour cream; it has a less acidic taste and a thinner consistency. The cheese should melt slowly and not be gooey, and it should be barely visible once incorporated. It’s really more of a bonding agent so the cream doesn’t get soupy.
RELATED: Vegetarian queso fundido with rajas
My version, based on a recipe José grew up eating, strikes a perfect balance. Some people like to eat rajas con crema over rice, or as a side dish with meat like carne tampiqueña (a grilled filet or skirt steak) or cecina (a thinly-cut aged salted beef). In our house, as you may already be fully aware if you’re a regular reader, the taco is king. However you decide to serve it, though, I guarantee it won’t be long before you’re making it again.
RELATED: How to roast poblano chiles
Rajas con crema
Yield 12 servings
Rajas con crema is a hearty dish made with poblano chiles, onion, Mexican sour cream and a little bit of cheese. It's used as a taco filling or served as a side dish.
- 5-6 poblano chiles, roasted, skinned and cut into strips
- 1/2 of a large white onion, sliced into rings and then cut in half (to make half moon strips)
- 2 tablespoons salted butter (do not substitute margarine)
- 5 ounces crema Mexicana
- 1/2 of coarsely shredded Chihuahua cheese
- A pinch of kosher salt, or more to taste
- Roast poblano chiles. Allow them to sweat for 15 minutes, then peel off the skins, remove seeds and cut into strips.
- Using a deep skillet, melt the butter and cook the onions in the butter on medium-low heat until they start to change color and caramelize a bit (slightly transparent and a little brown). Turn off burner and remove pan from heat.
- Add the chile strips (rajas) in the pan with the onion, stir to coat well with the remaining butter, and warm over medium heat until the rajas are warm and a little wilted.
- Add about 5 ounces of crema and stir in well. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and then reduce heat to low and add a half cup of coarsely grated Chihuahua cheese (if you can't find cheese labeled Chihuahua, any cheese labeled "queso para fundir" will do). The cheese should melt slowly and not be gooey, and it should be barely visible once incorporated. It’s really more of a bonding agent so the cream doesn’t get soupy. Once the cheese is melted, turn your burner as low as it will go, just so it is on to keep the rajas warm.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and reheated on the stove over medium heat or in the microwave at 30-second intervals.