09 March 2010

Chiles Rellenos - Tex-Mex at Its Best

Here in the boondocks of New Hampshire, I have yet to find a restaurant that can serve a chiles rellenos dish that tastes and feels like the real thing. I have friends who spent their college years in Colorado, other friends who lived for years in Arizona, still others who spent their early married life in southern California. They all agree that a plate of good chiles rellenos is a wonderful thing, but as Deni says, "You just can't get a good chili east of the Mississippi." ... well, I'm trying here. If you're a chiles rellenos fan, I'd appreciate you trying this particular recipe and getting back to me, because I am on a quest to get it right!

I had my first 'real chiles' when I visited a friend in Phoenix. The soft roasted pepper was a revelation ... I had never roasted peppers before and thought they were only used from a jar or can to supplement taste and add color in a dish that had another 'star'. The crisp coating of flour and fried treatment was so wonderful! Add a cheesy filling and I became a fan for life. Of course, getting the authentic Mexican cheese back in New England would be a challenge, but there had to be a way to duplicate that wonderfully crispy, cheesy, soft flavorful pepper experience.

This is the result of all the efforts... I sometimes make the chiles with little hot jalapenos when I want to have a hot spicy appetizer experience, but of late, I have gone back to the more traditional poblano peppers. They're larger, so the dish becomes a vegetable side to some rice and whatever meat course I'm making, but that's just fine!

Today, I'll be using the poblanos because I'm also making turkey cutlets in a picante sauce, some jazzed up rice, and re-fried beans to go along.  I know that's a lot of 'grub', but let me assure you, we're having company to help us eat all this wonderful stuff!

So... chiles rellenos. Can't wait!

Chiles Rellenos - printer friendly

The first thing I do is make the cheese filling while the poblanos are roasting under a broiler that I set at low broil. When the cheeses are mixed, I make little cheese balls and shape them to the size of the chiles that I'm using. I check on the poblanos and turn them, as needed. The skins need to blacken and burst.

Skinning the chiles is a delicate job, but if you've let them cool under a bowl, the skins loosen nicely and the job is easier. While they're cooling, I get a flat casserole ready by rubbing it with some butter and spooning a layer of my favorite picante sauce into the bottom. Then, it's time to deal with the poblanos! I make a slit down the length of one side and draw out the seeds and veins. Then, lay them on a plate and place one of the cheese balls inside, shaping it to fill the cavity. I roll the chili closed and coat the whole thing with corn flour. I use corn flour rather than wheat flour because I think it's more authentic and I like the slightly coarser coating that it gives when fried up. If the rolled poblano doesn't want to stay 'rolled, I glue it closed with a bit of cornflour between the slit edges. Next, I get a deep frypan and about an inch of canola oil hot. When the oil will 'sizzle' a drop of beaten egg immediately, I dip the chiles in beaten egg and black pepper and fry until golden. Sometimes, I add extra dollops of the beaten egg  right onto the top of the chiles when they are frying on the first side. It oozes down over them and into the oil and sizzles up, kinda like scrambled egg lace. Yum, when it combines with the picante sauce and cheese during the later baking stage. I always lay the fried chiles on a paper-towel to drain some of the oil and then place them on the layer of picante sauce, sprinkle some cheese over the top, and bake them for about 30 minutes to finish melting the cheese filling. So good!
When I take the first bite, I always marvel that such a poor pathetic-looking roasted poblano can make such a wonderfully crunchy, cheesy, delicious treat!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, man, do I miss this kind of food. I have never been able to make good chilies rellenos. Yours look wonderful! THANKS.


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