Oh, it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of my global dishes. Guess I should have known I’d get side-tracked! Anyway…
If you’ve ever been to a Mexican restaurant (and living in Southern California, I’ve definitely been to my fair share!), you’ve probably seen chile relleno on the menu. Chile relleno (“stuffed chile”) is a traditional Mexican dish that originates from the city of Puebla in Eastern-Central Mexico.
Fun fact: In the store, you will find Poblano peppers. This is what you want for this recipe. Sometimes they are mislabeled as “Pasillo” peppers. This is not an accurate name (since they are named for the city of Puebla), but the pepper is the same. Also, these are NOT hot or spicy peppers. They have a really mild flavor.
Initially, they were stuffed with meat and cheese, though current versions are mostly cheese. Although, you can find them stuffed with pork, raisins, and nuts as well. The ones I made, were all cheese, but I could see where adding, say carnitas, would be really delicious. Which, incidentally, is how they can be found in Guatemala.
This seemed to be one of those authentic dishes, where I’m sure every Mexican grandma makes her own version, and since I’d never had chile relleno before, I was left guessing on how to make mine. There were hundreds of recipes to go through! I finally came up with this one. It was good. I think the batter needed more salt/flavor. That part was pretty bland. But mixed with the tomato sauce and the cheese, then it was so delicious! I will definitely make this again.
If anyone has a tried and true recipe, I’d love to try it! Or if you happen to know Marcela Valladolid and she wants to personally teach me her way, I’d be ok with that too!
First, start with a handful of cherry tomatoes and 1/2 a diced onion. Drizzle with olive oil (I highly recommend this garlic olive oil from Trader Joe’s if you can get it. I use it all the time). Sprinkle with salt and put in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
After the tomatoes are roasted, add them to a blender or food processor. Add a bit more oil and 1/2 tablespoon oregano, and some garlic. Blend well.
For the batter:
With a whisk, mix together 1-1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup corn meal, 1/2 tablespoon baking powder, 4 eggs, and 1 cup milk. Add a hefty pinch of salt and pepper. It should be pretty thick, like pancake batter. Set aside.
Char the outsides of the peppers. Just put them straight over the flame. They will make a crackling sound, but that’s ok. You want the skins to blister and blacken.
After you blacken the skins, put the hot peppers in a plastic zip lock bag for a few minutes. This will create steam which will make it much easier to peel the peppers.
After about 5 minutes in the steamy bag, you can take the peppers out and just rub the skin off with a paper towel. It’s OK if you leave some of the skin on; the char will add to the flavor.
Next, take a small knife and cut through the top layer only, down the middle.
Remove the seeds and you will have just the empty pepper vessels, waiting to be filled up!
I think you can put a wide variety of cheese in here. I slathered a nice layer of cream cheese (about a spoonful on each pepper and then spread out) and a mexican cheese mix (preshredded. You can find this at the grocery store). Fill ’em up!
Now, surgery time. Take some toothpick and seal them back up. DON’T FORGET THESE ARE IN THERE WHEN YOU GO TO EAT IT!!! SERIOUSLY! DANGER AHEAD!! WARN YOUR GUESTS!
Dip the stuffed peppers in the batter and then add to hot vegetable oil to fry up. About 5 minutes on each side. I don’t know if they should be this messy or not, but I’ll chalk it up to being my first time!
Serve with the sauce and enjoy! Like I said, I didn’t know what to expect but it was yummy! Maybe I’ll order one at a restaurant so I know what it should taste like and make mine a bit better!
What do you think?