Chiles rellenos (literally, stuffed peppers) are one of the classics that Mexican restaurants almost always offer. The name of the dish is most often used in plural (both words ending in s), but the serving almost always consists of just one pepper.
A chile relleno’s filling often consists of only cheese (making them ideal for vegetarians or people abstaining from meat during Lent, for example), but can be almost anything. You can stuff your peppers with picadillo, shredded chicken, tuna fish, refried beans, or something else; they will all be delicious.
Here you will learn all the tricks to making a great batch of chiles rellenos. The task may seem a little daunting at first, as this dish is somewhat labor intensive, but none of the steps is particularly difficult. Allow yourself a little extra time the first time you make them; on the next occasion, you´ll know what to expect and your chiles will come together more easily.
This recipe is by Chelsie Kenyon
- 2 pounds large roasted and peeled fresh green chiles (poblano or Anaheim work well)*
- 5 large eggs, chilled, separated into whites and yolks
- 1/4 cup white wheat flour (helpful but optional)
- 1 pound of sliced or shredded queso blanco, Mexican Manchego, or Chihuahua cheese, or shredded seasoned chicken, beef picadillo, or another filling
- Oil for frying (enough to reach a depth of 2 inches in your frying pan)
- Pinch of salt
*If fresh green chiles are unavailable, use canned whole green chiles.
Roast the chiles on a hot grill or under a broiler on high heat. Use tongs to turn them occasionally, roasting until the skins are blackened and charred. (If you need more detailed instructions, go here.)
When the skin of the peppers is sufficiently charred and blistered, remove from the heat and let them cool to room temperature so you don't burn yourself. Peel the skin from the cooled chiles, rinsing your fingers if they become sticky. (Note: Do not rinse the peppers themselves, as you will be washing away most of their flavor.) Be careful to not tear the chile while peeling it.
Remove the seeds (the tricky part): Roasted peppers are extremely soft and fragile, and they tear easily. You are going to make a small slice into the side of each chile, about 2 to 3 inches long, just big enough to get a spoon into. (Don’t hesitate to use an existing tear, if there is one!) Delicately insert the spoon into the pepper and scrape the seeds and the white membrane out, trying as hard as you can to not tear the flesh.
Stuff the chiles: Place a slice of cheese or a spoonful of filling into each pepper; work slowly, delicately, and without forcing. If the piece of cheese or spoonful of filling is too large, trim it down until it fits inside. Don't over-stuff the chile; make sure the open edges of the pepper still come together.
Flour the peppers. (Note: This step is optional, but it can help greatly if you are having difficulty getting the egg batter sticking to the chile. Try to make them without this step at first.) Place half of the flour on a large plate. Place a chile on the flour and sprinkle the rest of the flour on top. Rub your finger around on the surface of the pepper to make sure that it is completely coated, then dust off the remaining flour (peppers should only have a light coating of flour) and set chile aside. Repeat this procedure with each of the peppers.
Prepare the batter: For this simple batter, whip the egg whites in a chilled bowl until they are stiff. Briefly beat the egg yolks and slowly and gently fold them into the beaten whites with the pinch of salt.
Coat and cook the chiles: Heat the oil. Test it with a drop of batter before putting a whole chile in; if the drop sizzles and floats to the top, it's the right temperature. If it sinks, the oil is not ready; let it heat a little more.
Once the oil is hot enough, you can fry your coat and fry your peppers. One at a time, hold the chiles by the stem and support the bottom with your fingers or a spoon. Dip the stuffed pepper into the batter, then carefully place it into the hot oil to fry. Cook for a minute or two, turning it over halfway through frying until batter is a crisp golden brown.
Remove the chile from the oil and let it drain on paper towels until all the peppers have been fried.
Serve your delicious chiles rellenos immediately with white rice or Mexican rice, pot beans, or refried beans.
Edited by Robin Grose