Chiles Relleno is a wonderful dish that is said to have originated in the southern Mexican town of Puebla in the 1500s during the time of the Spanish Conquistadors. Chile relleno consists of chile peppers stuffed with ingredients such as cheese, nuts, cinnamon and diced meat then breaded and fried in oil.
The chile relleno is typically served as an appetizer or snack. It is served most commonly in connection with the Mexican Independence Day and the Day of San Augustin. Today there are quite a few variations of this dish, but in the U.S. it is typically a poblano pepper stuffed with cheese and chicken or pork served with salsa rojas or mole sauce.
I recommend making the salsa roja first. You’ll get plenty busy once you start making the chiles, so it’s good to have this ready when the chiles are done and ready to serve. I make mine the night before so it can be easily reheated when I make the chile relleno and so the flavors can better blend!
Let’s make some chile relleno, shall we?
For the Salsa Roja:
- 4 Roma tomatoes quartered
- 1/2 small white onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed
- 5 springs of cilantro
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) kosher salt
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) olive oil
For the Chiles:
- 4 large poblano peppers
- 170 grams (6 ounces) Monterey Jack cheese, cut into long strips/sticks or shredded
- 946 ml (4 cups) oil, for frying
- 3 large eggs
- 64 grams (½ cup) all-purpose flour
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) adobo seasoning
- Mexican crema, as needed
- Chopped cilantro leaves, as needed
- Chopped green onions (scallions), as needed
- Cojita cheese, crumbled, as needed
You will also need toothpicks for closing the stuffed chiles.
- For the salsa roja: In a blender or food processor puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro and salt until smooth. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat, then pour in the blended salsa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust seasoning to taste.
2. For the chiles: Line a large baking sheet with foil and place the poblanos on the pan. Set the rack directly below the broiler and turn the broiler on high. Broil the poblanos until the skin is black and blistered, about 10 minutes, turning the peppers halfway through. Remove the peppers from the oven and place them in a large ziplock bag to steam for about 10 minutes. This will loosen the skins of the peppers, making them easier to remove. Peel and rub off as much of the loose skin as you can then cut a small slit down the center of the pepper from top to bottom. Remove as many of the seeds as you can without tearing the pepper.
3. Stuff the peppers with the cheese, then gently close the opening in the peppers and secure with a few toothpicks. You want to close them as much as possible, so the cheese doesn’t ooze out while frying them. Set them aside.
4. Heat the frying oil in a cast iron skillet or deep fryer to about 177°C (350°F). Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. While the oil is heating up, you’ll have time to prepare the batter.
5. To make the batter, separate the yolks and whites of each egg, putting the whites into a large mixing bowl and the yolks into a smaller bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Continue to beat the egg whites on low, adding each yolk one at a time until all are mixed in. The batter should be fluffy and smooth.
6. Mix the flour and adobo seasoning in a shallow bowl. Gently roll the peppers in the mix. Give them a gentle tap to remove excess flour. Working in batches, about 2 at a time, dip the floured chiles in the egg batter and carefully place them in the frying oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry until the batter is golden brown and crispy, 3-5 minutes a side. When ready, transfer the peppers to the lined baking sheet to drain off excess oil.
7. Arrange on a serving platter topped with salsa roja. Drizzle with Mexican crema, and add freshly chopped cilantro, chopped green onions and some cotija cheese. Remember to remove the toothpicks before serving!
Variations: This is the basic formula to start from. You can add other ingredients such as chicken and pork, and you can try making these with sweet Mexican mole sauce too.