2-3lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts OR inner fillets (i.e. "tenders")
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
1 T chili powder (optional)
1/2 T ground pepper (optional)
3 poblano chilies
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons flour (gluten free flour works great too)
15oz bottle of Mexican crema (or crème fraîche)
salt and pepper
8 - 12oz grated Cheddar cheese
Prep the Chicken
1. Heat 1 cup water on high in a small sauce pan. Add salt, sugar and chili powder. Bring to a boil and stir until fully dissolved. Let cool entirely.
2. If using chicken breasts, lay them flat on cutting board and slice horizontally so you have roughly 1/2 thick cutlets OR pound the breasts with a mallet until 1/2 inch thick. If using chicken fillets you can skip this step.
3. Once brine has cooled, place into a bowl or ziplock bag with the chicken and add cold water to cover. Refrigerate for 12 - 24 hours.
NOTE: If you're short on time you can skip the brining step and instead just sprinkle the chicken with salt & pepper and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 450°. If brined, rinse the chicken under cold water. Pat chicken dry and place on two oiled cookie sheets in a single layer. Bake for about 15 minutes or until fully cooked (165° internal temperature). Alternatively, you can grill the chicken or pan fry in butter. Set aside while you finish the dish.
Finish the Dish
1. Remove the stems, seeds and membranes from the poblano chilies and puree with the milk in a blender or food processor.
2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the poblano chili mixture and then the crema. Stir occaisionally until the mixture boils and thickens - it should almost have the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat and salt & pepper to taste.
3. Place chicken in a large, lightly greased baking dish, overlapping if necessary, and pour the poblano sauce over, spreading with a spatula to evenly coat. Sprinkle with the cheese. Dish can be refrigerated at this point until ready to serve.
4. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 350° and bake for 20-30 minutes until chicken is heated through. Then broil for 5-10 minutes until cheese has browned.