Key West Shrimp Chili Rellanos

IMG_1947Key West has two of the things I love most in life: eccentric characters and shellfish. We’ve been holed up for a few weeks at a VRBO (an excellent find, a rare tranquil spot close to Duvall) as I brainstorm characters and plot for The Maiden Tower, a novel set in Key West, and proofread my finished manuscript for The Welcome Home Diner, a novel set in Detroit.

Lobster Tacos

Lobster Tacos

Even though we’re as far south from Detroit as one could be in the USA, there is no shortage of inspiration. And we’re eating well–the food is fantastic.

Whether spending ten bucks for fried lobster tacos or ceviche from a food cart, buying fresh-caught seafood from one of the excellent markets and cooking it

Snapper at Latitudes

Snapper at Latitudes

yourself, or splurging and taking a boat to Latitudes on Sunset Key for lunch or dinner–for this seafood junkie, the food doesn’t get much better. I’ve been patronizing various seafood markets in the area, broiling lobster tails, hammering stone crab claws (they’re in season now) and grilling grouper and snapper. All of the seasonings needed to make a fine meal are lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper, butter and garlic.

IMG_2455Yesterday I hit pay dirt; a tiny little stand where a fisherman brings the evening catch and his wife sells it the next morning –a solid 1/3 less cash than any place else I’ve discovered. (Duval and Catherine behind La te da.)

We’ve a small but adequate kitchen and the following recipe was easy to put together. I abbreviated several recipes, took advice from a fellow traveller, and carved together an excellent, yet reasonably simple recipe for Chili Rellanos inspired by the local shrimp.

Blue Heaven's Key Lime Pie

Blue Heaven’s Key Lime Pie

It’s said that everything is better with bacon. Maybe so, but any south-of-the-border dish that incorporates poblano peppers is always the best-of-the-best to me.

They’ve a unique flavor profile with just the right amount of heat.  Poblano peppers that have been broiled or blackened over an open flame are  ideal for stuffing with any number of food combinations. Finished off with key lime pie from Blue Heaven, slam dunk.

Corn kernels could be added to the mixture, as well as jalapeño or chipotle pepper, for additional heat. Delicious served with rice or heated tortillas.

Recipe: Chile Rellanos with Shrimp (an easy method)


  • 4-5 large poblano peppers, roasted and prepared*
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, freshly ground (toast before grinding, if desired)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound raw (medium-sized) shrimp, peeled , deveined
  • 8-12 ounces queso fresco, cheddar or mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons washed and chopped fresh cilantro, divided


  1. Set oven rack 3-4 inches beneath broiler and preheat oven to broil.
  2. Heat  the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and sauté until the onion is just softened, about  3-4 minutes. Stir in cumin and tomato sauce and cook 10 minutes, adding shrimp** and garlic in the last 3 minutes of cooking time (shrimp should be just beginning to turn pink; don’t overcook). Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro and remaining tablespoon of butter.
  3. Cut cooked shrimp into 1/2-inch chunks and stir into sauce with lime juice and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro.
  4. Place roasted peppers, slit side up, on a lightly oiled, foil-lined baking sheet, stuff with shrimp mixture, and sprinkle  cheese over the top.
  5. Broil 1-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven, top with remaining cilantro and serve.

*Roasting Peppers: Place the peppers on top of an open flame (gas stoves work great for this). With tongs, turn frequently until they are charred, about 7-8 minutes. Place blackened peppers in a plastic or paper bag, and let rest until cool eough to handle, about 15 minutes. Remove skin (if some remains affixed, no worries.) cut a slit lengthwise into each pepper and remove seeds. Rinsing them out makes the task easier but some of the flavor is compromised. You may also roast peppers under a preheated broiler in your oven following the same procedure as above.

**Undercook shrimp slightly as they will be broiled later in the recipe.

Number of servings (yield): 2-4 Servings

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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