Buttermilk-Poblano Gravy


Gravy, as most of us know it—savory, rich, and comfortingly bland—is a bit of an acquired taste if you come from a country whose cuisine known for its unabashed love of heat, smoke, and acid.Paola’s first Thanksgiving in America was in 2010. She was living in Portland, Oregon, and, having grown up in Mexico, it was her first time tasting gravy and the rest of Thanksgiving’s classic flavors. “I just remember everything being meaty, bland, and dry,” she told me. Specifically, she was taken aback by traditional fall American flavors that are used for gravy, like sage. “It tasted like burnt herbs. All I wanted to do was squeeze some fresh limes all over my plate.”I had a similar upbringing in Los Angeles, although a Mexican-American one. The only American-style gravies I remember having were either from cafeteria lunches at elementary school or from Popeye’s, since that was my fast-food spot of choice growing up in the LA suburb of San Gabriel Valley. Aside from that, the closest thing that my mother made to a gravy was her spiced red chile adobo that she used to rub all over the Thanksgiving turkey. It would meld with the roast turkey juices at the bottom of the pan to make a delicious red chile sauce–gravy hybrid, but definitely not a traditional American brown gravy.Which now brings us to this vibrant buttermilk-poblano gravy. It’s a gravy that both Paola and I love to eat that combines the best of Mexican and American worlds. Fire-roasted poblanos add everything that a fresh green chile has to offer in terms of smokiness and flavor without the heat (unlike a jalapeño or serrano which would be an automatic turn-off to the heat-averse). The buttermilk adds a refreshing tang that will keep you ladling more and more over turkey, chicken, or potatoes. It would even be a great base for the most memorable pot pie you’ll ever have. And since it’s roux-based, it maintains the rib-sticking properties that a good gravy should always have. Go ahead and dip some tortilla chips into it, while you’re at it. No judgement here.

Buttermilk-Poblano Gravy Recipe
Photo: Greg DuPree
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
45 mins


  • 2 large (3-ounce) poblano chiles

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion

  • 1 1/2  cups vegetable stock or turkey stock, warmed, divided

  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons whole buttermilk

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • Ground white pepper, to taste


  1. Using kitchen tongs, hold 1 chile directly over a medium flame of a gas stovetop. Cook until skin is blackened, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining chile. Place chiles in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam 10 minutes.

  2. Using same piece of plastic wrap, partially cover your hands, and rub off skin from chiles, removing as much of the blackened skin as you can. (Don’t worry if all of the skin doesn’t come off.) Remove and discard stems and seeds. Finely dice 1 chile; cut remaining chile into strips, and set aside separately.

  3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add onion and chile strips. Cook until onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Combine onion mixture and 1/2 cup warm stock in a blender, and process until smooth, about 30 seconds.

  4. elt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium. Whisk in flour, and reduce heat to low. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Add onion-chile puree and remaining 1 cup warm stock, and cook, whisking constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add buttermilk and diced chile. Simmer gently to allow flavors to meld, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper.

Make Ahead

Poblano peppers can be roasted, peeled, and cut 2 days ahead.


You can roast poblanos under broiler, turning often, until charred.

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