Archive for the ‘Mains’ Category

Linguine alla Carbonara

Quick, simple, inexpensive, and delicious!  Or put another way:  Bacon, eggs, cheese and pasta!  In either case, you can’t go wrong.

I have been wanting to make this for quite awhile, but for some reason, just never got around to it.  Anthony Bourdain’s episode of “No Reservations” from Rome rekindled the idea, but it dimmed after weeks went by.  FINALLY, I got around to making this for lunch today.

I’m not sure why I waited so long.  It wasn’t at all difficult, nor was it complicated.  There weren’t any exotic or expensive ingredients, and in fact, most of us probably have all of the ingredients (or reasonable substitutes) on-hand.  So, really, I have no excuse, other than the fact that the few times I did think about making it for dinner, the idea was nixed by Bikenut.

There are a lot of recipes for carbonara online, but in the end, I kind of did a mash-up of the ideas I liked the best.  Some recipes called for raw yolks to top the finished pasta, others crowned it with a poached egg.  Some added herbs, some didn’t.  Regular bacon, pancetta, guanciale.  Spaghetti, linguine, fusilli, rotini… like I said, lots of different recipes out there.   I went with very simple to start, figuring I could add extras the next time if I thought it needed anything else.

Simple is good!  I think I might add a little fresh herbs to the dish next time, just to give it a little, well, freshness, but this was pretty good as-is.  This dish would be a great meal for a quick weeknight dinner when you want something warm and rich and comforting.

Linguine alla Carbonara

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz linguine (or pasta of your choice)
  • 4 oz diced pancetta (or a couple of slices of regular bacon, diced)
  • 1 whole egg plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (or a mix of Parm and Pecorino)
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of pasta water (don’t pour it out!)

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, in a large skillet or fry pan over medium-high heat, add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and pancetta.  Cook until pancetta has rendered its fat, but not quite crispy.  Set aside.
  3. Whisk egg and egg yolks together with 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  4. When pasta is ready, use tongs to remove from the water and place into the pan with the pancetta over low heat.  Add 1/2 cup of pasta water to pan.
  5. Whisk 1-2 Tablespoons of hot pasta water to the eggs to temper, then pour over the pasta and quickly toss, keeping the pasta and egg moving until the sauce becomes creamy.  Remove from heat.  If needed, add additional pasta water to thin, or Parmesan cheese to thicken the sauce to the desired consistency.
  6. Add fresh cracked black pepper to taste.  Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Roasted Veggie Lasagna

This is not the lasagna I wanted to make. I envisioned an ALL veggie lasagna, with long strips of zucchini in place of pasta noodles, but it was not to be. As we walked through the produce section of the new Sprouts market in the area, I mentioned to Bikenut that I was going to make a little lasagna for myself for lunch the next day.

“I like lasagna,” he said.
“I was going to make the noodles out of zucchini…”
“But, I don’t like zucchini,” he said.
“Yes, I know, which is why I was only going to make it for me!”

Obviously, I couldn’t bear the idea of Bikenut being disappointed that he didn’t get any lasagna, and the mere fact that he stated he actually LIKED something (which meant he was more likely to actually EAT it) was enough to send me back to the store for the noodles.

Zucchini was still going into the lasagna, but I was made to promise that it would only be in half. I also picked up an assortment of other veggies to roast and layer in there as well: carrot, yellow squash, onions (half a red, half a white, and a whole small yellow), portobello mushrooms, white button mushrooms, and spinach. The other ingredients were ricotta cheese, a mozzarella and smoked provolone cheese blend, and a quick pasta sauce made the night before from two cans of tomato sauce, 4 cloves of garlic (minced), half of a white onion (diced), and a handful of spices.

Unfortunately, not everything made it into the lasagna. Having bought an actual bunch of spinach, rather than the pre-washed, pre-packaged bag o’ spinach, I had to make sure that it was thoroughly rinsed. This meant giving it a good rinse through the colander a couple of times, then soaking it in a bowl of water to get anything else off it, and then giving it a final rinse before patting it dry and putting it to use. It got as far as the soak, sitting in a bowl on the counter next to the sink, when I turned my attention to other tasks that needed to be completed. I figured that was a better use of my time than watching spinach soak. Unfortunately, that move and the fact that it wasn’t to be included in the roasting caused the spinach to be forgotten. Oh well.

I was a little apprehensive about using these “no cook” pasta sheets, and I was a bit happy that I had left my sauce a little thin so that the noodles could soak it all up and definitely come out cooked. So a base of sauce went down into a 9″x13″ baking dish, then layer after layer followed; pasta, cheese, veggies, ricotta, sauce, pasta, cheese, veggies, ricotta, sauce, etc. The veggies were chunky, so I only got to three layers of pasta before having to top it off with cheese, covering it with foil and popping it into the oven.

After about an hour in the oven, it came out looking and smelling amazing! Bikenut insisted that I let it rest for a good 30 minutes or more, but after 15, I had to sample it. I should have waited, because I didn’t get so much a piece of lasagna as I did a sloppy pile of noodles, sauce and veggies. It was a tasty mess though! When Bikenut decided to have his non-zucchini piece, he told me it was one of the best veggie lasagnas he’s ever eaten. To further the compliment, we were trying to decide a few nights later where we wanted to go out to eat, and Bikenut said, “You know, I really just want to have another piece of that lasagna with a cold glass of milk.” He really must have liked it to pass up a steak, honey-walnut prawns, or fish and chips at his favorite pub!

So here you go… hopefully everyone you make this for loves it just as much!

Roasted Veggie Lasagna

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

    • 2 – 12oz cans tomato sauce
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 large yellow onion
    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
    • Herbs/Spices: Dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, paprika, fennel or caraway seed, fresh basil, salt & pepper

For the roasted veggies:

    • 2 medium zucchini
    • 1 large yellow squash
    • 1 large carrot
    • 1/2 large yellow onion
    • 1/2 large white onion
    • 1/2 large red onion
    • 2 portobello mushrooms
    • 1/2 lb white button mushrooms
    • Spices: Dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt & pepper
    • Olive oil to coat

For the ricotta filling:

    • 12-16oz ricotta cheese
    • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, removed from stem, roughly chopped
    • 6 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
    • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    • 3 Tablespoons shredded mozzarella & smoked provolone cheese blend
    • 1 beaten egg

For the lasagna:

    • 4 cups of shredded mozzarella & smoked provolone cheese blend
    • 1 box “no cook” lasagna noodles

Instructions:

For the sauce:

    • Over medium heat, add olive oil to pot.  Add garlic, onion, and dry spices, about 1 Tablespoon of each: dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, fennel or caraway seeds, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy, or omit altogether if you don’t like it spicy at all.)  Cook until onions are translucent.
    • Add tomato sauce and simmer for at least 15 minutes, but the longer the better.   After 15 minutes, taste.  If too tangy, add sugar a teaspoon at a time, tasting between each addition to make sure it doesn’t get TOO sweet.
    • Remove from heat and stir in about 1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil.  Set aside.   If making the sauce in advance, cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the veggies:

    • Preheat oven to 400°F.
    • Slice zucchini, squash, carrot, and button mushrooms into 1/4″ thick slices.
    • With a spoon, remove the stems and “gills” of the portobello mushrooms and cut caps into roughly 1″ pieces.
    • Quarter the onions, and arrange all prepared veggies on a large baking sheet.
    • Drizzle olive oil over the veggies, sprinkle with spices (about 1 Tablespoon of each), then toss to coat.
    • Place in oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until veggies begin to let go of some of their liquid and soften, but are still firm.
    • Remove from oven and set aside.  If making the veggies in advance, cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the ricotta mixture:

    • In a small bowl, add ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella & provolone cheese, and egg.
    • Add oregano and basil.
    • Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.

For the lasagna:

    • Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.
    • Spoon sauce into dish, covering the bottom in a thin layer of sauce.
    • Place a single layer of pasta sheets in dish.  Add a layer of mozzarella & provolone cheese (approx. 1/4 to 1/3 of the cheese.)  Add layer of roasted veggies.  Add layer of ricotta mixture.  Add layer of sauce. Repeat layering one more time.
    • Add a layer of pasta sheets, and very gently press down on the sheets to compact the lasagna.  Top with a layer of sauce, a layer of mozzarella & provolone cheese, then sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese.
    • Loosely cover the dish with aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes.
    • After 40 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown.
    • Let cool for approximately 30 minutes, then slice and serve.

Chile Rellenos, Part Dos

Watching Master Chef the other night, I decided that chile rellenos were in my cooking future. I didn’t take photos along the way the first time, so I thought I’d add these to the blog. Take a look at the photos, and if you want to try them yourself, you can check out the original post for the recipe.

LOST – OMGWTFBBQ Recipes

While I don’t have any pictures for the blog, I do have recipes!  I was really WAY too busy with the food prep to be able to spend the extra time to get the photos, but the results were delicious!  Ask anyone that actually showed up and ate!

I was going for LOST themed food stuffs, and I think it all turned out well — if not thematically, at least in being a successful dish over all.  The BBQ was a semi-potluck, where Bikenut and I would provide the meat of the meal (literally) and the guests were asked to bring an appetizer or side dish.  The contributions from our guests included a yummy mango salsa and tortilla chips, and a big pot of homemade spanish rice — both scrumptious!

For my part, I offered up Luau Ribs, fried chicken (in honor of Mr. Cluck’s!) and grilled shrimp.  I really didn’t work from any set recipes on any of these, I just sort of winged it.   As best as I can recall, here are the recipes if you want to try and recreate them for yourselves. 🙂

Peep’s Luau Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 2 slabs of extra meaty baby back pork ribs
  • 1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cups pineapple, orange and banana blend juice (or straight pineapple juice)
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 3 green onions, sliced (both white and green parts)
  • 1/2 bottle of Lagunitas IPA (or similar beer)

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine all spices, sesame seeds, soy sauce, juice, garlic and green onions then whisk to combine.
  2. Place ribs, meat side down, in a large enough oven-proof dish to hold the ribs and the marinade mixture.  Pour marinade over the ribs.  (I used a large foil roasting pan.)
  3. Cover dish with foil and marinate in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.  (Mine marinated for 17 hours total.)
  4. Thirty minutes prior to cooking, remove ribs from the fridge and flip them over in the marinade.  Let them sit on the counter to warm up to about room temperature before baking.
  5. Preheat oven to 250°F.   Place the foil-covered dish in the oven (ribs, marinade and all) and bake for 1 hour, then baste the ribs with the marinade and replace the foil.  Increase temperature to 275°F and bake for another 60 to 90 minutes, or until tender.
  6. When ribs are just cooked through and tender, remove from the oven.  Reserve the pan juices in a small saucepan.  Simmer pan juices over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, to reduce into a glaze.
  7. Finish the ribs by glazing with the reduced sauce and grilling them over hot coals/flame (or under the broiler), basting with beer after each turn, until nicely carmelized.  Remove to a serving platter.
  8. Slice the ribs into individual portions and serve with the remaining glaze.

Peep’s Fried Chicken (How blasphemous!)

Ingredients:

  • 12-15 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • Spices, quantity to taste:
    • Garlic powder
    • Onion powder
    • Paprika
    • Cayenne pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • Oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Season drumsticks with spices.  Place in a container and cover with buttermilk.  Marinate overnight, up to 24 hours.
  2. Add enough oil to a large skillet (I used a deep 12″ pan) so that the oil comes about 1/8″ up the side of the pan.  Heat over medium-high heat.
  3. Drain buttermilk from the chicken.  Re-season drumsticks with spices, then dredge in flour.
  4. Making sure the oil is hot, cook chicken in batches of 4-5 pieces for about 10-12 minutes on each side, or longer for meatier pieces.   (To check oil temperature, dip the end of a drumstick into the oil.  If it doesn’t lightly sizzle, increase heat before adding chicken or your chicken will be oil-soaked and the batter won’t stick to the chicken.  If it sizzles violently, turn the heat down before adding the chicken, or you’ll end up burning your chicken before it’s cooked through. )
  5. Once chicken is cooked through and browned, remove from oil and place on a cooling rack over paper towels.  (Do not place chicken directly on paper towels.)
  6. Serve hot or cold.

Grilled Drunken Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pounds of jumbo raw shrimp (preferably cleaned and deveined, it’s not nice work to do yourself.)
  • 1 bottle of Lagunitas IPA (or your favorite beer)
  • 1 ton of garlic (or more realistically, 12 large cloves or more)
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • 2 lemons
  • Bamboo skewers

Directions:

  1. Place 4-5 shrimp on each skewer (I use two skewers, to keep the shrimp from flipping around on the stick while I’m trying to flip them on the grill) and place in a rectangular baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle garlic and onion powders over shrimp skewers.
  3. Crack whole garlic cloves using the side of a large knife blade (or smash them with whatever is handy) and toss garlic over the seasoned shrimp skewers.
  4. Pour beer over skewers, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill.
  5. Over hot coals, grill shrimp, basting with beer, until opaque.
  6. Remove from grill, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the shrimp and serve with additional lemon wedges.

The Universe’s Best Pasta Sauce

Bikenut and I are having a few people over to watch Lost tonight.  We started this little gathering last season, and have decided to carry on through this final season.  Typically, I had my brother and his wife over, or they’d have us over, and our friend Alim would join us most times as well.

Since then, we’ve had to forfeit our long couch to make room for the chair that used to live in the living room, but then moved to the bedroom, and had to move back to the living room because we bought a bigger bed — but I digress.  Point is, we don’t have a lot of seating at this particular juncture, and while my brother and his wife won’t be joining us due to work and school commitments, Alim will be here, and we have two newcomers to our Lost dinner.  I have no idea where everyone will sit, but we’ll find a way!  Hopefully that way doesn’t involve this awesome pasta sauce ending up all over my carpet.

This is definitely not good for the carpet. Pasta, yes. Carpet, no.

Pasta is a relatively cheap meal, unless you’re me, then you somehow manage to spend $91 at Safeway when you are just popping in to pick up a few things.  A little more than half of that was for the dinner tonight, and probably about a quarter of that was unnecessary expense (bought two cans of things when I only needed one can, bought organically grown products,  etc.) or for multiple use items (like spices.)   But honestly, how can I complain about feeding 5 people and having leftovers for additional meals all for around $40?

On to the actual reason for this post — the pasta sauce!  I nabbed the basics of this recipe from allrecipes.com.  It was billed as “World’s Best Pasta Sauce!” so you know I had to try it out — and then tweak it to make it my own.  Now I think it’s the Universe’s Best Pasta Sauce!

Added the cubed onions and fresh basil to the mix.

The original recipe calls for all dried spices, but I really like the flavor that a ton of fresh basil adds to the sauce.  The original also called for fennel, in addition to the fennel already in the Italian sausage.  I like fennel more these days, but I think there’s enough in the sausage to not have to add more.  Add more basil instead!

Simmered for about an hour and a half.

I usually add a whole pound of mushrooms to this sauce, but one of our guests tonight is allergic to them.  I want to be a good hostess and not kill my guests, so I left out the mushrooms.  Guess what!  The sauce is still awesome!  It’s been simmering for about 5 hours now, so I’m going to go re-sample it again.  Enjoy!

The Universe’s Best Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1.5 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 large onions, 1 diced & 1 cubed
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 (28oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (6.5oz) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (3.8oz) can of sliced black olives
  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 bunch fresh basil (hand torn or chiffonade)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the sausage, beef, diced onion, and garlic over medium heat until well-browned; drain fat.
  2. Stir in whole tomatoes (with liquid), tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water.
  3. Stir in sugar, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper.
  4. Add cubed onion, mushrooms, olives and 1/2 bunch of basil.
  5. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve with your favorite pasta, top with Romano and/or Parmesan cheese and garnish with remaining basil.

Peep’s Asian Chicken

I had a craving for teriyaki chicken and rice.   So, I went to the store and bought some chicken thighs and a bottle of ginger-teriyaki sauce and figured I would just broil the chicken and baste it with the bottled sauce.  Upon returning home, I thought it would be a good idea to marinate the chicken first but, after spending $5 on a relatively small bottle of teriyaki sauce, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of dumping it into a bowl only to throw it out in an hour.  It wouldn’t have been enough to marinate the chicken in anyway!

Instead, I opted to make my own marinade.  I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t thought of it earlier so that I could have bought some fresh ingredients to include in the marinade (like green onions, fresh ginger and garlic), but after all was said and done, I think I’m glad to have a recipe that I can just open the cupboard and whip up.   It turned out so good that I didn’t even bother to open that bottle of teriyaki I bought! 🙂  Again, I didn’t think to take any pictures until it was all over and done with, but there’s not a lot to photograph when it’s just a bowl full of liquid and powder and chicken parts.  You’re probably better off this way.

I’m sure this would be equally good for thin strips of beef or short ribs, and would be really good for pork if you add a little pineapple juice to it.  I actually didn’t measure out my spices, but I think it was roughly about two teaspoons each, give or take.  I know I spilled a whole heap more five spice in the bowl, and tried to take most of the spillage out, but it was definitely the prominent flavor in the end.

If you’d like, after the chicken goes into the broiler, you could pour the marinade into a saucepan and bring it to a boil, then simmer it to reduce while the chicken cooks for a nice dipping sauce.

Peep’s Asian Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on, bone-in
  • 2 cups of low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons each:
    • Sesame seed
    • Ground ginger powder
    • Garlic powder
    • Onion powder
    • Chinese five spice powder

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, add soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar.  Whisk together until brown sugar is dissolved.  Whisk in remaining spices.
  2. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat.  Refrigerate chicken in marinade for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove bowl from refrigerator and turn the chicken.  Marinate on the counter for another 30 minutes.
  4. Place oven rack about 10″ from broiler and preheat broiler (low).
  5. Place chicken pieces skin-side down on a cold broiler pan and broil for 15 minutes.
  6. Turn chicken pieces over and broil for another 10-15 minutes or until juices run clear and the internal temperature has reached 170F.
  7. Serve with steamed rice, broccoli crowns and julienned carrots.

Hello world! (Or, “It Was Chile Relleno Day!”)

I have opted to leave the cheesy default title for my first post because I just can’t seem to dive into my first post without saying, “Hi!”  Besides, “Hello World” reminds me of the days when I would program my Commodore64 to print “HELLO WORLD” emblazed on a hot air balloon soaring across the screen.  Yes, I can be nerdy like that, but I digress.  Already.

Today was Chile Relleno Day!  It was my first attempt at making them, and now that I have, I want to write all about it.  I thought about posting an entry on my LiveJournal, but that’s private, and the masses wouldn’t necessarily get to see it.  I also thought about posting it on another foodie-type blog I participate on, Aluminum Chef, but it wasn’t part of any of the challenges and didn’t seem appropriate.  So I figured, if I start my own blog, I can post whatever I want! And so it goes…

As I said, I have never attempted chile rellenos before.  This is one of my favorite things to order whenever I go out for Mexican food, and I figured, if all of the Mexican restaurants suddenly disappear, I should know how to make my favorite dish.

The first thing I did was to search online for a recipe that I thought looked about right.  I was actually picking based on the appearance of the food in pictures provided, because if it didn’t look like what I wanted, I didn’t want it!

The recipe I ultimately selected claimed to be copied from one of Rick Bayless’ recipes.  After watching him on Top Chef Masters, combined with my memories of his series Mexico: One Plate at a Time, I figured I couldn’t go too wrong following one of his recipes. “Chile Rellenos in Tomato Broth” was my pick and I was sticking by it.

Fortunately, I had all the ingredients on-hand, having the idea occur to me while at the farmer’s market on Saturday.  Really it was two different farmer’s markets that day, and I had purchased chiles from both markets.  This fact became more apparent as the week went on and two of the four chiles started to wrinkle with age.

The wrinkled skin turned out to be a problem when it came time to peel the chiles.  I had blanched them in hot oil until the skin blistered.  This took considerably longer for the older chiles than the fresher ones.  After blanching, I immediately popped the chiles into paper bags and folded the top over to let the heat and steam do its thing.

Meanwhile, I began preparing the tomato “broth”.  When I hear the word “broth”, a few things come to mind — thin, light, clear.  I will have you know that the tomato broth was none of these, however, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in the end.  The recipe for the broth called for onions to be browned in lard.  I have never cooked with lard and, quite honestly, I was apprehensive about using lard.  So I skipped it and used oil and unsalted butter instead.  I do not believe the sauce suffered any for the substitution.

Once the onions were browned and the tomato and spices were simmering away, it was back to the chiles.  They had mostly cooled by this time, so they were easy to handle.  The peeling was another story.  Again, the old wrinkly buggers took longer to peel than the fresher pair.  Overall, it was a less labor-intensive process then I had imagined after reading more than a few accounts of people wanting to give up on their recipe of choice after several hours of effort.

It was on to seeding the chiles now.  I didn’t expect this to be so tricky!  I cut a slit into one side of each chile and carefully opened it up to get at the seed bundles.  Because I had to blanch the older chiles longer, they did not hold up as well to this intrusion, with one of the stems removing itself from the rest of the chile.  If only this happened before I removed the majority of the seeds, I’d have just been able to essentially take the top off the chile — stem, seeds and all — which would have been FAR easier.  But easy isn’t always the best course of action, I was soon to discover.

Stuffing the chiles with the Monterey Jack cheese was fairly easy.  Closing the chiles with toothpicks was a little more challenging, but again, only for the softer fleshed, older chiles.  Blast those chiles!@#  Once that was complete, it was on to the batter!

My arms would like to take a moment to thank my mom for the Kitchen Aid hand blender she got me for Christmas several years ago.  It has only recently seen the light of day in the last year or so, and I’ve wondered each time I have used it how I managed to get along without it.  This time, it was put to good use whipping egg whites to stiff peaks.  Soon I had a lovely fluffy batter to dip my chiles in.  Things were looking good!

The first chile to take the plunge was the stemless one.  It was a chore trying to get it out of the batter and into the hot oil, but I managed.  I opted to fry this one solo as sort of the test chile for oil temperature, timing, etc.  The oil needed to be a bit hotter, so I turned up the heat and things went very well from there.

Three more chiles to go, and this is where I realized the benefit of leaving the stem and chile intact — it has a handle!  Holding the chile by the stem allowed for much easier battering and transferring to the hot oil.  The three remaining chiles were a snap.

After a 5 minute (or so) cooling period, I removed the toothpicks that held the cheese inside the chiles and realized why the recipe called for skewers;  those toothpicks, even the long ones, are hard to find after you’ve battered and fried the chiles!  From there, it was into the oven with them for a 15 minute wait.

So, how did they turn out?  Well, I could barely take the time to take this picture before digging in.

chile_rellenos

The chile rellenos tasted great, and the sauce wasn’t too bad either.  The cinnamon seemed odd at first, but after that initial bite, it seemed to mellow and blend with the other flavors more.  I should also mention that the amount of sauce this recipe makes could be halved (which is what I did, since I was only making 4 chile rellenos) and it would still be enough for 8 servings.

All in all, it wasn’t the same flavor to the sauce that I’m used to getting at my favorite restaurants, so I will have to work on that, but the chiles and the batter were a great foundation.  I will definitely be having these again!  As in tomorrow, since I have two leftover and a TON of sauce.
peep_marker_trio

Chile Rellenos in Tomato Broth

Ingredients:

BROTH

  • 2 medium white onions, diced
  • 3 tablespoons lard, or cooking oil and butter
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans tomatoes with juice, undrained and pureed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock

CHILES

  • 8 poblano peppers, peeled, seeded and slit
  • 1 lb monterey jack cheese
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 8 4-inch skewers

BATTER

  • 6 large eggs, separated (cold)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • flour (for dredging)
  • cilantro (to garnish)

Directions:

  1. Brown onions in lard or oil & butter.
  2. Add tomatoes, cinnamon and pepper.
  3. Cook briskly until sauce becomes the consistency of a thick tomato sauce.
  4. Add stock, simmer partially covered for 45 minutes.
  5. Stuff chiles with cheese and hold together with skewers.
  6. Batter: Beat whites to stiff peaks with 1/2 tsp salt.
  7. Beat in yolks 2 at a time until well incorporated.
  8. Beat in flour.
  9. Dust chiles with flour and dip quickly into batter then lay in 350 degree oil.
  10. Baste tops with hot oil.
  11. When they are golden on bottom, turn over and cook other side.
  12. Drain. Once all chiles have cooled at least 5 minutes (they can sit up to 1 hour), put on sheet pan with parchment, slip out the skewer, and bake at 400 for 15 minutes.
  13. To serve, place a pool of sauce in a bowl and top with a chile.

Note: The easiest way to peel chiles for this dish is to deep fry in 350 degree oil for about 45 seconds, remove, let cool in a closed paper bag, and then peel–there is less chance of breaking the chile this way.  The oil can then be used to cook the chiles.