diego style chiles rellenos

December 28th, 2008

I get the impression that chiles rellenos are a point of pride in Mexican families as every household (and restaurant) has their own unique recipe. Always one to pile in with the crowd, we’ve got our own recipe, too. These are modeled after my favorite chiles rellenos from Chuys. Like Chuy’s rellenos, our batter is crunchy instead of the more typical soggy, and we use tomatillo salsa instead of rancheros – though, they’d be lovely with rancheros. It has been at least 10 years since I bit into Chuys chiles rellenos, but I’m still pretty sure ours are not quite like theirs. We like them enough that they end up on the menu no less than once every two weeks and sometimes weekly. Without further ado:

1 fresh poblano or other long, fat pepper per person (We’ve been using heirloom sweet peppers from Berkeley Bowl, recently)
3 finger sized chunks of monterrey jack per pepper (queso blanco or cheddar would be fine, too); Use more or less cheese to your liking.
1/4 c flour
1/4 c breadcrumbs
1/4 c milk
1 egg

Cook the peppers over an open flame until the skin is completely charred. Peel the skin off. (I’ve heard that some people put the peppers in the broiler for 2 minutes on each side until the skins are charred, then remove the peppers from the oven and immediately place the peppers in a paper bag to steam until cool. Allegedly this makes them easier to peel. I’m not that patient.) Cut the stems off the peppers. Clean out any seeds. Stuff the peppers with cheese. Lay out each dry ingredient in a shallow plate. Mix the egg and milk until combined, then pour this mixture into a shallow dish. Working with one pepper at a time, dip the pepper in the milk mixture, then flour, then breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining peppers. Lay the peppers on a few sheets of paper towel between coats. When the peppers have dried a bit (~5-10 minutes), redip each in the milk mixture then the breadcrumbs. Repeat this 3 times until you have lovely, crusty peppers.

Heat ~1/2 inch of oil in a shallow pan until it begins to smoke or until a drop of batter dropped into it immediately begins to brown. Place your peppers in and fry on each side until brown (~1-2 minutes).

We cover these in tomatillo salsa and melted cheddar cheese and then promptly inhale.

Oh, and Diego Style pairs well with whatever Belgian Ale you have on hand.

This recipe can be adapted for jalapeno/habanero poppers by:
– Not charring and skinning the peppers first. Just chop the tops off and remove seeds. (Wear gloves or have fresh Aloe Vera stems on hand if you attempt with Habaneros)
– Replacing the white cheese with 1 tsp cream cheese and 1 tsp cheddar.

Another note – We’re not big on salt and pepper, so if the salt in your sauce or cheese is not enough for you, salt and pepper the flour to taste.