Monday, September 7, 2009

Chile Relleno

At the Parker School Open Market on Saturday I saw poblano peppers, beautiful green, shiny, large,  next to all of the other quite delectable vegetables. The only kind of peppers I have EVER used in cooking, EVER, are nīoi (Hawaiian chili peppers) and bell peppers. That's it.  I wouldn't be able to identify an anaheim from a jalapeno or an ancho. But I reflected on one of my husband's favorite Mexican dishes, Chile Relleno, and I thought that with a long weekend I might just find the time to give it a shot.

I did a search, as I always do, on google (why oh why do I even BUY cookbooks but I do love them so) and found a couple of recipes that I thought would work. One even had a youtube video with it! I took what I thought to be the best of both recipes and that's what you'll see below:

6 or so poblano peppers (I hear you can use other types. The poblanos were not hot at all, my kinda pepper)
8 oz. pkg monterey jack cheese
1/4 c. flour (plus 1 tablespoon)
4-5 eggs, separated
dash of salt
vegetable oi, enough to cover bottom of a frying pan (maybe about 1/4 inch)

1. Rinse the chiles.
2. Preheat your oven to broil.
3. Place the chiles in a 9 x 14 baking dish or cookie sheet and place on the top shelf of your oven. I lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper because I hate washing.
4. Watch and listen closely. When the skins start to make popping sounds and to char and turn black in places, take the chiles out and flip them over. I tried to get all sides of the peppers charred.

5. When both sides are fairly evenly charred, remove them from the oven.
6. Place all the chiles in a paper bag and close the end.
7. After a few minutes, check them. Once the skin comes off easily, peel each chile.

8. Cut a slit almost the full length of each chile. Make a small "t" across the top, by the stem. Pull out fibers and seeds (this is where the heat is). After a while I stopped making the "t". I just did the one slit the full length and kind of turned the chile inside out and pulled out the seeds and membranes attached.
Place a slice of cheese in each chile. I took the 8 oz. block of 
cheese and cut it to form wedges that I could just place right inside. Some recipes said to use a toothpick to hold it closed. I didn't have any and it seemed to work just fine.
9. Whip the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer, until stiff peaks have formed.
10. Heat the oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the pan.
11. Beat the egg yolks with one tablespoon flour and salt. Mix the yolks into egg whites and stir until you have a thick paste.
12. Roll the chiles in 1/4 cup flour and dip each one in the egg batter. Coat evenly. I ended up getting the batter all over my hands because dipping doesn't do the trick. You have to kind of pick up some batter to cover the "bald" spots. Fry, seam side down on all sides until golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain.

13. Meanwhile, heat an enchilada sauce or salsa in a medium saucepan (or in a microwaveable dish and zap it). Place one or two Rellenos on each plate and pour salsa over them. Serve  immediately.
I thought it would be a lot harder to fry than it was. A couple of my chiles had slits in it where it had torn so I thought cheese would ease out all over the place. but it didn't! I only had one leak out and that's because when I put it down in the pan it sort of opened up and I knew I was in for a gooey one. But even that one came out great. 
It was deelish. And not too difficult. I mean, you take out the guts and put a slab of cheese in it! Dip it and fry it up! I opened a can of vegetarian refried beans and heated that up and I made a batch of cornbread (with a chile in it that i cut up into small bits).
Everyone said they loved it. Even Kaipo, who is generally anti-pepper, ate it! I'm sure if I see these peppers on sale for a good price (I think it was around $4.99 a pound, but they are really light!) I'll buy them and make rellenos again!

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