Cabrito’s Rajas con Crema

Last week, Jason and I played a great game called “Let’s Try to Find a Restaurant on a Saturday Night at 8 with No Reservations and No Wait.”  We walked from his place in the East Village through the Lower East Side and across Soho, peeking into restaurants, wanting to be fed immediately, and finding hour long waits almost everywhere. So much for last minute date night.  Then, while walking down Bleecker, I remembered Cabrito, which is on Carmine Street in the West Village. As if our visit were totally meant to be, there was exactly one open table for two in the restaurant with nobody else to claim it.

I have to admit that my ordering habits in Mexican restaurants tend to be pretty predictable. Nine times out of ten I will go for guacamole and then any kind of dish with carnitas. The last time I had been to Cabrito, though, I was with my friend Marissa, who told me that I had to try their rajas con crema–roasted poblanos in cream, served with tortillas. I became a convert that day. This time around, when Jason and I ordered the rajas, he told me I should try to make it at home. To my delight, Cabrito actually posted their rajas con crema recipe in the Village Voice last  year, so I made this last night for a couple of friends who stopped over for dinner.  Here’s my adapted version.

Rajas con Crema

  • 3 whole poblano peppers
  • vegetable oil
  • A palmful of cilantro leaves
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • 1 1/2 cups light sour cream (the recipe asks for Mexican crema, but I went to three stores and couldn’t find any, so this is what I did in a pinch. Next time I am going to try the real thing for sure).
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour tortillas for serving

First up, you’ve got to roast those poblanos. The cool way to do this is to light up your gas range and just put the pepper directly in the flame until it is charred. I, unfortunately, have a lame electric range in my apartment, so I roasted them in the oven at 450 for about 12 minutes. After that, put them in a bowl, cover it tightly, and let the peppers steam for another 15 minutes or so.  Then they will look like this:

The poblanos will be easy to peel–I was able to take the skin off in only a couple of pieces. After peeling your peppers, cut away the stems and remove the seeds from the inside. Then cut or tear the peppers into strips. Most of recipes that I read suggested wearing rubber gloves for this process, since poblano peppers have pretty significant levels of capsaicin in them (that’s the stuff that makes peppers fiery. It’s also what makes arthritis creams feel warm on your skin). I just went for it with bare hands. If you do that, just make sure you don’t touch your eyes (or, uh, other sensitive parts) before thoroughly washing your hands.

The rest goes really quickly. Heat up a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drop of vegetable oil and swirl it around, and then sautee the peppers for a minute or so. Add the lime juice and cilantro, stir for a minute, and then add the sour cream. Turn up the heat to high and let the mixture reduce a bit until it thickens. Taste for seasoning.

Then all you do is put a couple of spoonfuls into the middle of a tortilla, fold it into a neat little package, and go to town. I thought they were really good, but they didn’t taste like the ones from Cabrito as much as I wanted them to. I’m positive this was because I couldn’t find Mexican crema. Next time, I’ll definitely go out of my way to get some. I might also try using heavy whipping cream instead of sour cream. All in all, though, it was well worth it to try something so yummy, cheap, and satisfying at home.


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2 Responses to “Cabrito’s Rajas con Crema”

  1. Mamyte Says:

    Quick and tasty. Great idea!

  2. Uncle Owl Bear Says:

    served with crunchy cookies this recipe would be perfect

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