Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chile Rellenos - A Labor of Love

Chile Rellenos have to be one of my favorite foods. It is time intensive to make but always worth the effort. The flavor of the Poblano Chiles and the complement of the melted Monterey Jack Cheese offset by the tomato garlic sauce makes it a party in your mouth.

When I buy produce I keep my eye out for Poblano Chiles that are on the larger size and nice and firm. Then I have to make sure when I purchase of them that I will have time within the next few days to make this recipe.

I typically purchase six to eight Poblano Chiles at a time to make it more worth the effort. In order to peel the skins nicely from the chiles, I roast them Italian-style. I set the oven to 400 degrees. Then I wash the chiles, dry them, place them on an oiled cookie sheet and rub oil on each one. I place them in the oven for about 20-30 minutes - turning them occasionally to blister them evenly. When the skins seem to be bubbling away from the chile, I remove them from the oven, place into a large brown paper bag, close it and let sit for 20 minutes.

As I wait, I start setting up the next part of the process - setting up the souffle batter and frying oil. In a pie plate, I mix 1 cup of unbleached flour, 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. I separate 4-6 eggs (depending on the egg size) and place the whites in a medium-sized bowl for beating. I keep the yolks to the side at the moment and hold off on whisking the egg whites just yet.

I empty two, 15-oz cans of chopped tomatoes into a saucepan and add half a chopped onion, two cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons of oregano and some salt and pepper. I set this on the stove with the burner set to medium low. I will let this sauce simmer while continuing with the recipe. I set up a large, deep-sided skillet (about three inches deep) and fill it about an inch deep with vegetable oil. Lastly, I shred 2 cups of Monterey Jack cheese and set aside.

With everything setup, I return to the chiles. I cut the bag down one corner and around the bottom to have a flat surface in which to peel and seed the peppers. If the peppers have roasted long enough and steamed in the bag nicely, the skins will be a thin film that can be easily pulled off each chile. As you peel the chiles, you want to be careful that you don't tear the flesh underneath or pull out the stem. When they are each peeled, you then make a slice on one side, carefully open the chile and slice away the seed ball again trying to keep the stem intact. If you have extra seeds in the chile, you can gently rinse in cool water. [Be careful after doing this to avoid touching your eyes. You never know if one of the chiles is spicy.]

I turn on the oil to get it ready to fry the chiles. Using an electric beater, I whisk the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. I stir up the egg yolks and gently fold them into the egg whites until they are well mixed. Next, I fill each chile with shredded cheese. They will be of varying sizes so I do my best to fill them equally. I sprinkle a pinch of flour over the oil and if it sizzles I start coating each chile with flour, gently coating them all over - even taking care to get it around the stem well. Next I put a chile into the souffle batter and gently placed it in the hot oil. I repeat this process fitting four chiles into the pan and cook on each side until the batter is golden brown.

When the chiles are cooked, I remove them to a separate plate with paper towels. I puree the tomato sauce in a blender and remove the oil from the pan. I let the pan cool slightly and then quickly add the tomato sauce and pop a lid on top. There will be a whole lot of spattering so the lid helps keep the mess down a bit. When the bubbling has died down, I add each battered chile to the sauce, turn the burner to medium low and carefully turn each chile to make sure they are coated with the sauce. I let this all simmer for a few minutes while I make sure everything else is set up for dinner.

I typically serve the rellenos with steamed rice and warm tortillas. As an extra, you can also fry plantains and/or serve with beans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow I didn't know that this was here! Yum.


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