I base these chile rellenos on a culinarily experience that changed my life. When my mother turned 50, my sister and I joined my mom in Mexico City while she was there for work. And then when Mom was done with her work week, we then traveled to Acapulco for a paradise weekend to celebrate (despite it being the rainy season). I don’t remember all of our meals from that weekend, but there was one that stood out to me. We were out for Mom’s birthday celebration dinner, and being a frugal undergrad, I was going to get a salad because the Vegetarian Option (the chile relleno) seemed expensive to me at $22. (I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned how much I hate eating a salad as a full meal: unless that’s what I really want, I find them to be completely un-satisfying.) But my mom strong-armed me into getting the larger dish.
It was a goat cheese filled chile relleno in a souffle batter “en nogada” (in a creamy walnut sauce). And it was something I thought about for years. I didn’t start cooking regularly until five years later, and when I did, I decided I needed to make something like that dish. So I’ve done this chile relleno recipe ever since, although I switch up what sauce I serve over it. Most often, I use salsa verde.
- 6 Poblano or Anaheim Peppers (I usually use poblano when available)
- 8 oz Goat Cheese
- 8 oz Pepper Jack cheese, grated
- 1 Ear of Sweet Corn, decobbed, or 1/2 can of Whole Kernel Corn
- 1/2 Can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 Egg, slightly beaten, for the filling
- 6 Large Eggs, for the batter (The general rule of thumb is 1 Large egg per Poblano pepper, however I often have to hurry up and make more batter, so sometimes I do an extra egg or two)
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons flour, plus about a cup
- Oil for Frying
Start by roasting your peppers, over open flames inf available, or under a broiler until they are blackened and charred (but not mushy–it’s important in this recipe that the pepper remain a little firm). If you broil them, I highly recommend shocking them in ice water to stop the cooking. If roasted over an open flame, wrap in a clean towel and let cool. Once you can handle them, rub the charred skin off, carefully cut a slit into the side of the pepper and remove the seed pods, leaving the stem intact. Rinse quickly to remove remaining charred skin or seeds. Set aside on paper towels to dry.
While the peppers are cooling, make the goat cheese filling. (Note: the filling above is a double recipe, so it looks large. I also forgot the egg.) Sometimes I put the goat cheese in a microwave safe bowl and zap it for just 30 seconds so that it is soft and mixes easily. Mix in the pepper jack, sweet corn, black beans and one slightly beaten egg. Fill each pepper with 1/6th of the goat cheese mixture. If I have the space, I usually like to throw them into the freezer for ten minutes while I make the batter so they firm up a little.
Set your canola (or frying oil of choice) in a deep cast iron skillet, or dutch oven. Divide your eggs, and place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Do not allow any of the yolks to break into the whites, it will not allow them to fluff the way they need to.) Using the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. While whipping, add in the the cream of tartar and salt, slowly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Once the whites are stiff, fold in the flour and egg yolks.
Once the oil is very hot, which I often check by placing a little bit of the egg mixture in the oil to see if it bubbles, it is time to cook the peppers. Take a stuffed poblano pepper, roll it in flour and remove the excess. Then coat it evenly in the egg mixture, and place in the hot oil. Sometimes I use a spatula to help coat both sides evenly, and sometimes I find it easier to coat one half and place the pepper, egg side down, in the hot oil and scoop more egg mixture on top to encase the stuffed pepper.
Cook for two to four minutes (until golden brown) and then rotate and cook for an additional two to four minutes. If the pan is large enough, I like to cook two or three at once. I usually like to flip the peppers two or three times to ensure good color, and to make sure the soufflé batter on all sides is cooked. Place the fried pepper on a paper towel lined cookie sheet, and keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you cook the other peppers.
Serve with tomato broth (recipe here, although I have never made it, I should try this one day–obviously using vegetable broth), salsa verde (store-bought, or great recipe here), or nogada sauce (recipe here–which I have made a day in advance, and it was delicious), garnished with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley.
Excellent sides are Mexican Rice, refried beans and something leafy, like spinach.