Wednesday, April 21, 2010

lonesome road kitchen challenge #1

Chiles Rellenos
Chiles Rellenos is one of those "benchmark" dishes that I use in judging a favorite Mexican restaurant. So of course, since I love this classic dish so much, I simply had to attempt to prepare it myself. I did, and here are the luscious results!
The name of the dish simply means "stuffed chile pepper" and the filling can be just about anything: cheese, beans, chicken, pork, beef (including the classic, picadillo). The chiles may be battered and fried (or not) and I've had all sorts of delicious sauces on chiles rellenos. For this version, I chose a light Ranchero Sauce whose clear and bright flavors complement and contrast with the gooey goodness of the cheese filling and the rich taste of the poblano chile peppers.
Ingredients for the chiles:
  • 4 fresh poblano chiles
  • 8 to 10 oz. Monterey Jack or Chihuahua cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup flat beer
  • Vegetable oil for frying (corn or safflower work well)
Ingredients for the ranchero sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, seeded and chopped (even better if roasted!)
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Prepare the Ranchero Sauce by cooking onion and garlic in oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the peppers, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, cumin and salt. Simmer over low heat, covered about 20 minutes. Add cilantro and lime juice just before serving; set aside and prepare the chiles.

To prepare the chiles: Roast chiles on a grill or in the oven or over a gas flame until skins are blackened and blistered. See below (these were done on our grill and they smelled fantastic!):

After poblano chiles are suitably blackened, immediately place in a bag to steam. Wait a few minutes, then peel. (Sometimes not all of the skin comes off and that's okay. Do the best you can!)

Cut a "T" shape in the chiles and remove seeds. Place thick slices of cheese in each chile and distribute chopped onion evenly among the 4 chiles.

Prepare the batter for the chiles by combining the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add flat beer and beat batter until smooth. Dip stuffed chiles in the batter and allow a bit of excess batter to drip off.

Heat 1/4 to 1/2 inch cooking oil in a large skillet until oil shimmers and is hot enough for frying. Carefully add the stuffed and battered chiles and fry about 2 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain a bit, then place in a rectangular baking dish. Pour Ranchero Sauce over chiles and place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until dish is heated through.

Serve with a twist of lime, perhaps a dab of sour cream or a sprinkle of Cotija cheese. This is delicious and beautiful served with saffron rice, as I did in the top photo.

Serves 4.


Doris Sturm said...

I love Mexican food and I too judge a restaurant by the way their Chiles Rellenos taste.

I like the traditional way my Hopi ex-mother in law taught me with just the smooth enchilada sauce on top, but I don't mind trying another version for a change. Thanks for the recipe!

Lonesome Road Studio said...

I've enjoyed them with mole sauce too. I used to have a really good recipe for a smooth enchilada sauce - and I wouldn't mind checking out yours!

Katy said...

I've never made ranchero sauce - but am certainly inspired! And saffron rice? MMMM! Great combo :)

Lonesome Road Studio said...

The next recipe I want to find is for something called "sanchos." An old friend from Houston used to make them. His ranchero sauce tasted almost like bbq. They've haunted me for years.

My Life Under the Bus said...

To whom it may concern ...I can't read anymore......I'm drooling too much...I think I'm dehydrated ! God I love Chiles Rellenos.............


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