Posts Tagged ‘mexican’

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.

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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.

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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.
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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.