"Chiles rellenos" are such a traditional Mexican dish.... I remember when I started dating my husband on 2006 (For those who do not know we met online "e-harmony") I was in Mexico and he was living here, in Wisconsin.... And in one of our conversations, I remember him saying: "I wonder what you are going to cook when we marry, because I don't like Mexican food" I told him I was convinced he would LOVE Mexican food once he really tried it but he was pretty sure he had tried "all kinds of Mexican food" here in Wisconsin, he said he had gone to "very authentic restaurants" (they claimed to be authentic) and he says that he saw Mexican people in the kitchens (well, they were employees there, but it doesn't mean they were really cooking Mexican food) One of the things he told me he hated the most was "guacamole", he basically disliked avocado.... Little did he know how much he would love it one day!
So, on his first trip to Mexico, I made sure he ate not just "our real tacos" (which by the way he couldn't stop eating) but I wanted him to try some other Mexican dishes I knew would change his opinion about "Mexican" food.... So, he tried "Chiles rellenos" and it was "love at first bite" he couldn't believe how delicious that dish was, he was all aaahs and ooohs and wows while he ate.... and that is why I want to share with you such great recipe:
"Chiles rellenos" are roasted poblano peppers, stuffed with "picadillo" (a ground beef "guisado" -stew type of thing but not with too much liquid in it-) or stuffed with "queso fresco" (Mexican style fresh cheese) and then passed through an egg batter and finally fried in very very hot oil.
Here is what you need to make them: (4 people)
For the peppers:
4 poblano peppers (get 6 just in case any of the peppers gets torn if it's the first time you are handling these)
2 eggs (divided)
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp. of salt
For the stuffing:
1 8 oz. queso fresco (you can easily get this in a "hispanic or Mexican" grocery store)
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 potato (cubed)
1/2 white onion (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cube of chicken bouillon
1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro (fresh)
salt and black pepper to taste
This dish needs to be made with some time, because of all the steps involved and especially if it's the first time you make them, I would say take your good 2 hours (is not too much work but it takes time, trust me, it's all worth it)
First roast the peppers, One or two at a time, cook peppers directly on the grate for about seven minutes. Periodically turn with tongs or a fork to cook all sides of the skin. (don't worry if it looks black, that will go away when you peel it)
Roasting Poblanos Using the Oven or Broiler
To roast peppers in the oven, preheat the oven to 450° F. Spread the peppers in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook until the skin blisters and begins to darken, about five to ten minutes.
Put the peppers inside a plastic bag so they can "sweat" and then you can remove the skin easier (for about 8 mins.)
While the peppers are "sweating" make the stuffing, if you are using queso, then skip this step and just cut the queso fresco in 1/4" slices, your stuffing is ready.
If you are going to make "Picadillo" (which I highly recommend you go for it!! You can actually make some chiles with cheese and some others with ground beef and then choose which one is your favorite) then you need to:
1. Sautee the onion and garlic (properly season with salt and black pepper)
2. Add the ground beef (brown it, season it with a little more salt and pepper and make sure it doesn't clump, keep it moving so it is really ground) -cover the pot with a tight lid so the meat releases its juices- (medium heat)
3. Once the meat has browned, get rid of about 70% of the liquid, keep it moving so it fries a little bit and the liquid reduces and add the cubed potato, let it all cook until the potatoes are almost cooked all the way through
4. Add the 1/2 cube of chicken bouillion and the crushed tomatoes, cover, reduce the heat and let it all simmer until the potatoes are cooked all the way through.
5. Remove from the fire and add the chopped cilantro.
Once your stuffing is ready, you can go back to your peppers, peel them (remove the thin burnt layer of skin) and get the seeds and veins out (use plastic gloves because the heat of the peppers is all in the seeds and you can get your hands burnt (TRUST ME!), do this very carefully, trying to keep the flesh of the pepper intact and by opening a 1 1/2 inch slit on one side of the pepper with a sharp knife.
Stuff your peppers with about 3 slices of cheese or 3 tablespoons of picadillo (it also depends on the size of the pepper) they shouldn't be too full that the food comes out or too thin that there isn't enough stuffing inside.
Put the all purpose flour in a bowl and in a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they form peaks, still beating on high with your electric mixer slowly fold in the egg yolks, so the batter stays really frothy.
Now in a pan (deep enough for your oil but not too deep that is hard for you to handle the peppers, you can use something as deep as a wok) start heating the oil, this is one of the main secrets of chiles rellenos, the oil should be really, really hot, ALMOST bubbling, you can test it by adding a little bit of the egg batter and it should fry pretty quick and you should see it "sizzle" immediately. While the oil heats up pass your chile relleno (carefully) and ONE at a time by the flour until the pepper is lightly coated with flour, then immerse the pepper in the egg batter (trying to keep the open side of the pepper up) you can handle the pepper by its tail and tip, quickly put the pepper in the oil and turn it so it is all fried up, the fried egg will prevent the food from coming out of the pepper, once it's all fried and it looks beautifully golden all around put your chile relleno on a plate (lined with paper towel to absorb the excess of oil), Do this for each pepper and THERE YOU GO! Your very own CHILES RELLENOS!
You can serve chiles rellenos with rice and refried beans or rice and lettuce salad, corn tortillas are a MUST. I will share the recipe for a very easy rice tomorrow.