I love Southwest food. If I had to pick any culture of food that I could eat every day, that would be it. One of our favorite dishes is Chili Relleños. I have a recipe that I got in an old out of print book about 30 years ago that I've tweaked over the years. Since I was making it tonight, I thought I'd write it up to share. I love the combination of the somewhat spicy Poblano peppers, the soft melted cheese and the airy omelet like coating. It's a mix of textures and tastes that is most appealing to me.
- Poblano peppers--one for each relleño. I always get the biggest ones I can find
- Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese. Plain is more traditional but I like the extra kick from the pepper Jack.
- Eggs--one for each pepper plus one extra. Since I make 4 at a time, I used 5 eggs.
- Cooking oil
You will need to peel the peppers. Place them on a cooking sheet under the broiler until they are blistered. Turn over, making sure they are blistered all over. You will need to watch them but figure about 5 minutes or so on each side.
When you take the peppers out of the oven, place them in a paper or plastic bag for 10 or 15 minutes to steam.
This will make the peppers easy to peel. The skin should pull right off in big pieces.
Slit the pepper open and clean the seeds and inner membrane out. Sometimes it's easy to just rinse them then blot dry.
Cut an oblong block of cheese for each pepper and put inside the pepper, wrapping the slit opening around to enclose it.
While preparing the coating, place about 1/4 - 1/2 inch cooking oil in a non stick frying pan to heat on medium heat. The oil must be hot when you begin cooking. Separate your eggs, placing the whites in a medium to large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. Beat the whites until stiff peaks form. Then beat the yolks and add 1 tablespoon of flour for each egg and 2 teaspoons of water for each egg. Since I was making 4 relleños, I used 5 eggs, 5 tablespoons of flour and 10 teaspoons of water. Beat the yolk mixture until blended, adding a pinch of salt. Basically, you want it to be the consistency of pancake batter.
Gently fold the yolk mixture into the beaten egg whites.
You will prepare 2 relleños at a time. Place two big blobs of egg mixture on the oil, a little bigger than the peppers and let it cook for a few minutes.
Gently lay a cheese stuffed pepper on each blob of egg batter.
Carefully spoon a thin layer of batter over the top of the pepper, completely covering it (except the stem).
Here's the tricky part. You need to turn the relleños by gently rolling them over. Put your spatula under and roll toward the side of the pan. You will basically be folding it in half.
You will need to roll them over at least once more, cooking until golden brown.
Repeat with the remaining chilis. Drain them on paper towels.
I served these topped with fresh Pico de Gallo.
Easy Pico de Gallo
Red or yellow onion
This is easy! Dice equal amounts of Roma tomato (seeded), onion and cilantro.
If you decide to add jalapeño, seed the pepper and dice finely. Be sure to wear gloves or wash your hands well after handling hot peppers. I used one large jalapeño to 1 cup each tomato, onion and cilantro.
Mix well, add a splash of lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. You may end up tweaking the ingredients to your liking by adding more or less of any one of them.
The meal consisted of the chilis, topped with the pico de gallo and a dollop of sour cream. It was accompanied by our favorite Mexican slaw which can be found here. I substituted green cabbage for the red cabbage called for in the recipe.
Yum! My favorite Mexican dish!