Two Tips to Delicious and Fluffy Chile Rellenos
If you’ve never had a good chile relleno, you’re missing out. A whole poblano pepper, roasted with the skin and seeds removed, stuffed with cheese and coated in a light egg batter, then fried until golden brown and topped with a simple Mexican tomato sauce. Simple, yet delicious with richness and depth.
As we’re getting a few poblanos, and other chilies in our Full Circle order still, thanks to the late summer sun. This is a great way to use those chilies.
I distinctly remember my first chile relleno, or at least the first time I realized how good they could be. I was at a small Mexican restaurant in the basement of an office building in Eugene, Oregon. Not necessarily the Mecca for Mexican food, but they made one great dirty martini and had excellent chile rellenos.
I don’t ever remember my mother making them, and though I know my grandmother did, I don’t think I ever ate one as a child. Though later, when we’d go down to East LA to visit we’d always eat at Vargas, a truly authentic Mexican restaurant where women make the tortillas by hand daily. There too I encountered a version worth savoring and noted the consistent qualities of a good chile relleno.
One is the obvious fluffiness of the batter surrounding the chili. This should retain chili-like shape and even puff out from the pepper to create a light coating. This can be achieved by adding a little salt and baking powder to the egg whites when whipped, and by whipping the whites a little stiff, then softening them with the yolks to the perfect consistency.
The second essential is the sauce. Though you can use enchilada sauce, as I did in the picture above, the best is a simple tomato sauce made by just blending and frying a few essential ingredients. The recipe for that follows the relleno recipe below.
So give it a try, follow these steps and you’ll have your own secret chile relleno recipe to whip out on Cinco de Mayo to impress your friends or make a big batch and have them for lunches. They are excellent reheated and included in a burrito with rice and beans and salsa or eat them with chile verde and an egg for breakfast.
- 4 poblano chiles
- 1 1/2 cups jack cheese, shredded or sliced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 1 tsp chili power
- 5 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups simple Mexican sauce (below)
- Begin by roasting your peppers. If you have a gas range, place them directly in the flame and turn until every side is well blackened. If you have an electric oven, you can do the same, use a skillet, or broil them in the oven rotating to cook as evenly as possible.
- Once done, place them in a plastic bag and cover with a towel to let them sweat for five minutes. This will allow the skins to come off easier. Remove from the bag and rinse under cool water removing the skin.
- Make one slice in each pepper from near the top almost all the way to the bottom. Using a paring knife remove the seeds by cutting them from the area below the stem. Be careful to leave the stem intact as this makes battering them much easier. Fill half way with cheese. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl separate yolks from whites, add a pinch of salt and baking powder to the egg whites (this will help them stiffen when whipped!). Whip whites until a hard peak appears - a hard peak is when you remove the whip and the whipped whites will create a stiff peak below the whip. Mix the yolks in to soften the whites. You should have a softer peak, but really fluffy mixture, like above.
- Add oil to a heavy bottomed frying pan and bring up to 375°F (if you don't have a frying thermometer, the oil will ripple at this temperature and a spoon dipped in the egg mixture and fried will brown in 45 seconds to one minute). Roll each pepper in flour until coated (this will help the eggs stick to the chiles!), dip in egg mixture and lay directly in pan. Turn and cook to brown all sides. Remove and let drain.
- Serve with enchilada sauce, or this simple sauce below.
- 3 medium-large tomatoes
- 1/2 white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp cumin, ground
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- Combine ingredients in a food processor, blend until smooth. Heat oil in a medium pan, add sauce and stir until hot. Remove from heat, add in cilantro and season to taste.