GGC note: We were at my parent's house last weekend and my mother served today's recipe and OMG, you guys. These Chiles Rellenos are TO DIE amazing. So is the black bean polenta. That is all. Take it away, mom!
Until last year, I had never really had much luck growing peppers in my garden. Since we live in coastal Southern California, we often don’t have enough hot days in June for the flowers to set (cool temperatures make the flowers drop) so large bell pepper varieties gave me two or three peppers per plant all season. (Not worth the five months of TLC.)
Last year, I tried one Anaheim pepper plant, and, WOW, it was covered in peppers. So this year, I planted ONLY Anaheims and now I have peppers coming out of my ears!
Anaheim Peppers from the garden
I guess it makes sense since we live only an hour away from where they were cultivated a century ago. I love them…not only are they beautiful to look at, but they have such a great flavor, aren’t too spicy and are extremely versatile. I put them in everything. Sliced thinly and cooked on high in a pan to bring out the flavor, I add them to any salsa, salad, veggie or grain dish. I also slice them thinly and roast them in the oven with my other veggies (see past roasting blog). But the most heavenly way to use Anaheim chilis is to make Chiles Rellenos.
I love Mexican food, especially since I have lived all of my life less than an hour from the border, but ever since I was a child, chili rellenos have been my favorite Mexican dish. This recipe is EASY even with fresh chilis. It’s even quicker if you use the canned WHOLE chilis.
Chile rellenos make a great company meal. You can simply serve them with beans and rice or if you want to be a little more creative, I have included a few of my favorite side dishes: Mexican rice, cabbage slaw and my new concoction... polenta and refried black beans.
The chile rellenos, although best served straight from the pan, can be cooked ahead, drained on a paper towel, and then warmed in the oven on low. If you want a non-dairy filling, I have included a recipe for a vegetarian “picadillo.”
6 large Anaheim chilis (or 6 canned Anaheim or California chilis)
½ lb Jack or other mild cheese (I use goat jack or goat cheddar)
3 eggs, separated
flour (I use gluten free)
vegetable oil for cooking
If using fresh chilis, roast WHOLE chilis, stems on. I do this over my gas stove, using tongs and charring the outside of the chili.
If you don’t have gas, you can oven roast them. (Lay them on a cookie sheet close to the broiler and cook until charred, turning to char all sides) A third way is to use an outside bar-b-q. After they are roasted, put them in a brown paper bag and close it up, letting them steam in there for 10 minutes.
Peel off the blistered skin (this is easier under running water). Make a slit near the stem and carefully, trying not to split the chili, remove the seeds. (I fill them with water and the seeds float to the top, making them easy to remove).
OR……use canned chilies and wash off the brine, drying them afterwards with a paper towel. Fill chilis with a chunk of cheese:
(I cut the cheese in triangular wedges so they fit nicely inside the tapered chilis.)
Then dust stuffed peppers with flour:
-Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.
-Beat egg yolks until lemon colored. Fold whites into yolks.
-Heat about a ¼ inch of oil in a pan.
-Dip chilis in egg mixture to coat on all sides.
When oil is hot, place chilis in oil and cook until brown on all sides
(makes 6 servings!)
Chili Relleno shown with a slice of garden tomato and *black bean polenta. Mmmmm!
Alternate filling: Vegetarian Picadillo
1 cup chopped apples
1 cup chopped onion
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes (either fresh or drained canned)
½ cup raisins
1 chopped chili (jalapeno if you like the heat…otherwise, use another Anaheim)
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
½ cup chopped almonds
Cook onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except almonds, and simmer 15-20 minutes. Stir in almonds. Stuff chilis and use for chili rellenos.
I prefer Chile Rellenos without sauce as that was how I had them as a child, but if you want a sauce, here is an easy one:
Chiles Rellenos sauce (if desired)
1 cup chipped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups canned tomato sauce, or fresh pureed tomatoes
1 T oil
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
Puree onion, garlic and tomatoes in a blender until liquefied.
Cook sauce in oil for about 5 minutes.
Stir in stock until the consistency is to your liking and season with salt and pepper.
(Here are some great side dish recipes for chili rellenos:)
Mexican cabbage slaw:
4 cups chopped cabbage
1 stalk celery, chopped
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Saute cabbage and celery briefly in oil, just until cabbage is wilted. Add vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Polenta and Black Beans
(see above served with Chiles Rellenos)
1 cup dry polenta
3 cups water
1 can refried black beans
1 chile pepper
3 T cilantro
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring water to a boil and gradually stir in polenta. Turn down to low and cook for about 10 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, sauté onions and garlic in oil until soft. Add chopped cilantro and cook for another couple of minutes. When polenta is done, add the canned beans, the onions, the cumin and stir well.
Salt and pepper to taste. You can add yogurt or sour cream if you want a creamier taste.
(This is also yummy with huevos rancheros!!)
1 cup rice
3 T oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ cup peas (fresh or thawed frozen)
Cook raw rice in hot oil in skillet for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, combine onion, garlic, and tomato sauce in a blender and liquefy. Stir mixture into rice and cook about 10 minutes. Add stock or water and chili powder. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce to a simmer. Cook about 20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed. Add peas during the last 10 minutes.
WWW for GGC
IMPORTANT NOTE about peppers. A reader mentioned that her hands were burnt after handling and seeding the peppers for chile rellenos. I had this happen to me several years ago when seeding and cutting up raw Anaheims while making a big pot of chili for a New Years party and it was so painful that I was up all night with my hands covered in Aloe Vera. Most Anaheim chilies are mild and won’t cause any problems, but they can have some heat in them, and for sensitive people, this can be MISERABLE. Usually if you handle them AFTER they have been roasted, the oils won’t affect you adversely, but to make sure, WEAR GLOVES when handling.