Eat Well: WWW Picks a Peck of (Relleno'd) Peppers

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.”

Chiles Rellenos

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
(you can use the stems to help turn the chilis)
(I use 2 pans…it makes it easier).
(makes 6 servings!)
Chili Relleno shown with a slice of garden tomato and *black bean polenta. Mmmmm!

*recipe, below

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!!)

Mexican rice
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.

Buen Apetito!


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.


Jessica | 9:18 PM

I know what I'm making this weekend.

Thilie | 9:47 PM

humm it looks so good :) very creative!

nch | 10:04 PM

that looks so good! I am hungry now, ha ha.

88highburycorner | 4:11 AM

These dishes sound delicious and easy to make. I was a pescatarian for 13 years and have always preferred a vegetarian diet and my husband has just found out that he is gluten intolerant but I've been running out of meal ideas. Your recipes have jump started my imagination again, thanks for sharing.

Into the woods | 4:36 AM

i wanna take this recipe behind the bike shed and get it pregnant!!

Amanda C. | 6:18 AM

I know I'm on the east coast, but I'm sure hoping my farmers market this morning has chilies!

Sydney | 8:42 AM

Delish. WWW rocks.

The Hojo Family | 10:30 AM

Oh my gosh, that looks amazing! I am soo going to attempt to cook that tonight!! I have an awful time following recipes for some reason though - hopefully I can get it right!! lol :-)

LL | 11:15 AM

OMG I miss Mexican food like I miss my sanity! I haven't had it years. I am going to scour the land for the ingredients to make this. It looks better than Josh Holloway's dimples.

Wendy Woolf | 11:25 AM

For those of you who can't get fresh Anaheims, Ortega, Rosarita, Las Palmas, and others sell "whole green chilis" so hopefully you can get them in your town in the Mexican food section (these are Anaheims but they won't be labeled that necessarily). They actually might be called California or New Mexico chilis in your produce department, also. I think they have these canned chilis everywhere and although the fresh ones are especially yummy, the canned ones are delicious, too.

Anonymous | 11:48 AM

At home here in Albuquerque we eat Chile practically every single day. That is my favorite Mexican entree. I get a relleno burrito at the balloon fiesta every year, it's just a burrito with scrambled eggs and a relleno. Sounds sloppy but it's so good.

Sunshine Fancy Pants | 4:58 PM

Wow that just looks amazing!!

chesapeake | 7:33 PM

Thank you for this!!! I made it for my whole family tonight and I totally felt like a gourmet chef (I made the chiles, mexican rice, relleno sauce, and from-scratch vegetarian refried beans with it). My mom has celiac and a casein (dairy) allergy, so a big THANK YOU for posting the non-dairy filling. Everyone loved it and the food was absolutely fantastic. This blog changes my life every single day in ways both large and small.

Thank you GGC and WWW! :-)


best comment ever, chesapeake. thank you! SO glad your family loved the recipe! xo, ggc + www

Kendra Cullum | 9:42 PM

seriously wendy your recipes are amazing. i look like a clown in the kitchen compared to you!!!! thanks for all the yummy suggestions!!

Wendy Woolf | 10:31 PM

I love you, Kendra!

Amanda C. | 5:01 AM

MMMMM, I found some chiles at my farmers market and made the Chile Relleno's last night along with the Polenta and Black Bean yumminess, and boy was that a good dinner!

I always, always seem to have problems with coating things though. Every recipe I've made that calls for dredging whatever it is through flour and then egg never comes out looking like it's supposed to. Last night was no exception. But it still tasted delicious so I'm not complaining :)

Thanks to your mom (and you)!

Wendy Woolf | 8:05 AM

Amanda, make sure your egg whites are stiff but not dry. If they make soft peaks, the mixture won't hold up when you coat the chilis. If they are too stiff, the egg yolk won't mix well. Then, dip the chili into the fluff to coat and after you put them in the pan, if there isn't enough egg mixture on top, lay a little bit on top. I hope this helps!

The Hojo Family | 8:30 AM

I made this recipe last night and it turned out soo good!! I was SO happy because when I normally try to follow a recipe, it's usually a FAIL! This was so yummy though! My husband was very pleasantly surprised! :-) Thanks for sharing!! And the pictures totally helped because its always nice seeing that I am doing it right along the way!

Ashley | 8:53 AM

Thanks for this recipe! Sometimes I feel like you guys are reading my mind ... b/c I had pablono chilies at home waiting for me to find a recipe. My hubby and I loved the end product and will definitely make it again.
However, there were a few hickups with the recipe,just b/c i fail at knowing how to do a lot of stuff in the kitchen. Maybe my hickups will help someone else trying this out.
Things I learned were you MUST mix the egg whites with an electric mixer - I realized that as my arm was about to fall off. Also don't ever use grated cheese to fill these suckers - my kitchen was a mess. Lastly I think I needed to roast my peppers longer, it was really hard for me to get the skin/charr off them.
Thanks again - love all the WWW recipes!

Sarah S. | 11:03 AM

I made these last night - they were super delicious. Anything with cheese will do it for me.

I whipped the eggs by hand - agree with you Ashley - it was painful! Next time will definitely use a mixer.

Charred the peppers in the oven and stuck them in a plastic bag (didn't have paper) to steam - it worked perfectly.
I topped mine with fresh cilantro and homemade salsa... so yummy!

Wendy Woolf | 11:13 AM

Sarah....Definitely use the mixer to beat the egg whites and the egg yolks (do the whites first so that none of the yolk contaminates the whites. They won't beat if there is any yolk mixed with them). Just be careful when you use the mixer that the whites don't get too dry. Keep checking them by lifting the beater to see if the peaks stand by themselves and stop when they do. When i first got married, I used to beat my eggs with a rotary beater and it took forever! So much easier with an electric! Thanks for your comment. I think I will do a tutorial about how to separate and beat eggs as there are tricks involved!

dietplaid | 1:48 PM

Hm, I've been meaning to try something like this with all of the poblanos we've grown this year. Definitely looking good!

Cassie | 6:38 PM

I love that your doin the "eat well" thing. Lord knows I wish I had time to try all your recipes, but as we speak my 6 mo old is puling every last shred of paper of my desk and doing the newly-learned and well love full-body-back-arch!!

Keep up the good work mama!

Anonymous | 8:45 PM

you cheated talk about that

armdsol | 8:35 PM

Hey!! great work with the chiles!!
glad you like them! they are authentic mexican! Armonia from Tj.

Anonymous | 8:58 PM

Hi GGC's mom! I have to tell you that you are totally my new hero!! Your chickpea post was life changing. We make the sweet pepper chickpea stew dish at least once a week now.
And zomg. These look even better. Can I ask, is that instant polenta or regular polenta? Is there a brand you use?

THANK YOU for making healthy vegetarian food look so good!

Wendy Woolf | 9:38 PM

Dear Anon, I am so glad you like my posts! I don't use instant polenta...I use either dry corn grits or polenta (such as Bob's Red Mill
or coarse corn meal. Depending on how thick you want it, you make it in a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 , polenta:water. (Always bring the water to a boil before adding the polenta and stir well so it doesn't clump). It takes about 10 minutes to thicken.

LL | 5:08 AM

What can you substitute for the jack cheese? I can't find it in Sweden, and it's been so long since I've had it I don't know what it tastes like. It's spicy, no?

Zeke | 6:46 AM

Chile please not Chili. ChilE. Plural is Chiles. Especially if you live anywhere near the border and its not Texas (they are special). unless there were beans and red chile powder added somewhere I didnt see. Looks good. Try Asadero cheese

Wendy Woolf | 9:11 AM can substitute any medium soft cheese. It just needs to melt so mild cheddar works, too. Jack cheese is not spicy unless it is "pepper jack."

Cheyenne | 1:20 PM

Thank you for this post! I've always been intimidated by stuffed peppers, but your photo directions have given me confidence! I prepped everything this morning and will fry them for dinner tonight.

Anonymous | 2:17 PM

Amazing!! I made them for my husband and I last night with the sauce and bean polenta. He was blown away and so was I. I never would have attempted making chile rellenos but your photos and instructions made it really easy to follow.
One note, my fingers were burning like crazy from seeding the chiles but I soaked them in apple cider vinegar and that helped alot, in case anybody else needed a remedy.
Do you wear gloves when seeding and handling the chiles?
Thanks again for all the great recipes. I really enjoy them!

Amy | 8:39 AM

Planning to make this tonight. As a side note, could you put in a side bar with a recipe list so that is is easy to go back and find a recipe.