Monday, September 20, 2010

Chilis Rellenos Americanos

I have always loved chilis rellenos. Authentic recipes call for dipping the whole cheese-stuffed poblano pepper into egg batter and deep frying it. The stem end is left on for a very rustic experience.

Over the years I reserved chilis rellenos for special occasions when eating out, and never made them at home. Then, about six years ago, I decided to come up with my own recipe, one that would satisfy but be less greasy. I've made it many times, always in the summer when the poblano peppers start appearing at the farmers' markets.

The dish is wonderfully warm, smoky, chile-y, eggy and satisfying. It would make a great breakfast casserole, but I usually serve it with cornbread and coleslaw for dinner.

Be warned that roasting peppers indoors WILL set off your smoke alarms. At the Richland Farmers' Market, there's a vendor who will roast your peppers over a gas flame while you wait. It doesn't take long, but you'll want to get right home and refrigerate the roasted peppers 'til you're ready to use them.

Smoky chipotle salsa is simply a can of chipotle peppers "en adobo" (sauce), which you puree and store in the fridge. This little jar of smoky heat will come in handy for a lot of dishes.

6 or 8 poblano peppers (you may see these incorrectly called "pasilla" peppers)
16 ounces or so grated jack, pepper jack, cheddar, or a mixture of cheeses you like (smoked gouda gives the finished dish a more smoky flavor)

8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Sliced green onions if you have them
Smoky chipotle salsa, about 1 tablespoon

Wash the peppers and cut the stems off. Reach down into the center and remove the seeds. If using a pepper roaster over a gas flame, turn on your exhaust fan. Arrange about three peppers at a time over the flame so they get maximum exposure. As skins start to pop and char, turn to expose all sides and, when peppers are charred evenly, toss them into a bowl lined with a paper towel, and cover them immediately. Roast remaining peppers and let them cool gradually in the covered bowl for 15 to 20 minutes.

Alternatively, arrange peppers on oven rack and turn oven to 500 degrees. Turn on exhaust fan. Roast peppers 'til skins start to pop and char; turn if necessary. Continue with step calling for putting them in a paper-towel-lined bowl and covering them. You can also place them in a brown paper bag, rolling the top down closed.

Rub the peppers to remove the black char as much as possible. Lay them out on your work surface.

Beat eggs with milk, salt and crushed red pepper until very well blended.

Set aside some of the grated cheese to sprinkle on the top of the dish. Form remaining grated cheese into fists, as many as you have peppers. Gently open the peppers and put the cheese into the cavity. Arrange peppers in a casserole, and pour the egg mixture over. Scatter sliced green onions on top.

Bake casserole at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes, or until knife inserted into egg mixture comes out clean.

Drizzle smoky chipotle salsa over the top, then brush it around to coat top of casserole. Sprinkle reserved cheese atop, and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings, depending on how many peppers you used.

1 comment:

  1. This looks fantastic! I used to make a chile relleno casserole many years ago, and I still have the recipe somewhere (it may have been typed out on a typewriter for all I know). You've inspired me to revisit this chile relleno approach.