More Cooking With Clay
Rancho Gordo in Gentleman's Quarterly

Experiments with Chiles Rellenos

Like most of us in California, I grew up eating battered and fried chile rellenos, stuffed mostly with gooey cheese but occasionally with picadillo. I recently found a rare copy of the out of print Los Chiles Rellenos en Mexico by Mexico City's brilliant Ricardo Muñoz Zurita and was inspired to think beyond deep frying and experiment with poblano chiles.

Preparing chiles for stuffing is easy enough, especially after you've done it a number of times. The Rancho Gordo website has instructions written a few years ago but they're still valid. Nowadays I tend to roast the chiles in a hot dry skillet and finish off any little crevices with a blow torch.

This first chile filling was made by sauteing an onion and a chopped serrano chile with some oil and Mexican oregano. When soft, I added some cubed zucchini and frozen corn kernels. It's April and to be honest, I've been buying seasonal for so long it was a little odd buying zucchini and corn at this time of year.  I got over it. I then added a cup of cooked Flor de Junio beans and tossed the mixture gently.

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This would have been a lovely little dish but who wants lovely when you can have glorious? I packed the opening with grated Manchego cheese and then popped the chiles into a toaster oven until the cheese had melted.

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Readers, this was just great! And it opens doors about stuffing chiles. You might even try this inside a bell pepper, but I'd just suggest you get a ripe red one rather than a watery green pepper. It will taste better and imagine the beauty of a stuffed red pepper chock-a-block full of summer vegetables.

To be continued.

Comments

Sean

I've had brunch on the brain lately, and this sounds like an awesome brunch dish. Thanks for the alternative perspective on one of my favorite foods ever!

Tom

Ya-HA! Genius!
For as long as the rivers have flowed and the birds have sung, I have been unable to produce a single, edible, relleno. Don't know why...they just hate me, or something. You have granted me hope anew!

Steve Sando

Sean, you're right re: brunch. Unlike the battered and fried chiles, these can wait. I bet you could even make them the night before and heat them right before serving.

Tom, I seem to do ok but about halfway through my batter starts to fall apart and it turns to liquid. Give this technique a shot, especially if you love poblano chiles. I can't believe I'd prefer something fresh to something fried but in this case, I'll take either. The Chile Relleno recipe in Diana Kennedy's Cuisines of Mexico has an oddly simple tomato/chile sauce the chiles rest upon and I think it would be even better with chiles like this. I'll dig it up and post it soon.

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