Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chiles Rellenos

Chile relleno means "re-filled" chile.   Llenar (yehnahr) is to fill, and chiles rellenos are chiles that are filled or "stuffed"  in many different ways. Rellenos Frios are not fried but served cold, stuffed with with guacamole or shrimp, chicken, or tuna salad.   Chiles en Nogado are stuffed with a meat/fruit/nut mixture, traditionally served for holidays.  Where I live on the Texas, New Mexico, Mexico border, the  "Chile Relleno" dish  is a thick-meated green chile,  roasted and peeled, and usually, but not always de-seeded, stuffed with cheese and coated with simple batter made with eggs and flour.  Then fried carefully in a pan with a scant amount of oil; this is not a deep fried dish.  This Relleno is served warm, as a side dish or as a main course. 

My guys would rather have a steak with a chile relleno than a potato.  Any. Day.  Something about the blending of the flavors of green chile, Monterrey Jack cheese, crispy batter and a piece of delicious beef cooked perfectly over a hot grill.... well, it's just the about best combination ever invented.  The next best way to enjoy one is wrapped with a schmear  of refried beans in a freshly toasted flour tortilla.  That, my friend,  is a burrito that will bring tears of joy to a hungry person.

But, back to the Chile Relleno, simplicity and just the minimum of everyday ingredients once again trumps the overwrought and the over-thought. Steak, Chile Relleno, and maybe some sliced fresh tomato.... now that's what we consider a perfect summer meal.

As the daughter of a chile farmer, I always look for  green chile that is thick and meaty.  Rounder tips are generally, but not always, milder than the pointy ones.  I am very lucky to have a neighborhood store that always has freshly roasted chiles available.  And they are usually very good ones.  And.....someday I am going to find the sweet little man who roasts them so perfectly and give him a big ol' kiss.  Probably.

Anyway, you take your roasted and peeled chiles and make a small slit in the side and rinse out the seeds.  Then you dry them well and dredge them in a little bit of flour.
Cut the Monterrey Jack cheese into strips and stuff them into the chiles.

Now you take some eggs, say one for every 3 chiles that you are going to make, and separate the yolks from the whites.  Be careful!  You don't want any yolks to mix in with the whites or it won't beat up fluffy and white, like this.

I put some plain flour in a strainer, along with a generous pinch of salt and some baking powder ( a half tsp. per cup of flour).  How much flour, you ask?  Well, just guestimate about the same volume of flour as yolks.
Then shake your strainer over the yolks and mix the dry ingredients with them, and add a little water until it is thick but not stiff, about pancake batter consistency. 

Take  the yolk mixture and fold or whisk it into the beaten whites.  Don't over-mix it, just until the whites and the yolk mix  together.   Heat up a pan with about a half inch of light olive oil, or any other oil that you like.

Now, dip your chile into the batter, and lay it carefully in an ugly pan just like this one. 

Don't have one this bad?  No worries.  Just use what you have.  Your rellenos should fry but not sizzle and spit.  Turn them over when they are brown and fry the other side.  Then lay them on some paper or paper towels and keep them warm (200) until you're ready to serve them up.   If you are lucky enough to have some left over, be sure you try the chile relleno/refried bean burrito.  You will never be the same.


Allan said...

Thank You! Finally the secret I've been trying to remember to make the batter stick perfectly to the chile, not go all over the pan during the cooking, and still be a light egg batter. Your recipes also reduce the mess I usually make in trying to prepare these dishes. I'm a guy and not a very good cook, but people think I am when I follow your directions. Now if only you can show me how to flip the rellenos over without splattering any grease?

Jan said...

What a nice comment! Good to know, since I wrote in hopes my sons would take an interest in cooking! Actually, I usually use two turners when I turn them over, one is a very small one, the other a little larger, and besides being careful and slow, it's almost impossible to do without splashing a little. The important thing to remember is to turn away from you… no fun getting burned or grease on your shirt. Thanks again.