Monday, March 15, 2010

Chile Rellenos - I did it My Way

Some time ago I posted about a cooking class I had gone to. I was inspired to try to make stuffed chilies (chile rellenos, en español) at home this week. Over the weekend we went to the small local market in the Las Cascadas neighborhood, which is just down the road and around the bend, to get our week supply of veggies. The lady, perhaps inspired by my selection of zucchini, poblano chiles, broccoli, onion and tomatoes added in a bunch of mixed herbs - flat leaf parsley, mint and epazote, an aromatic, soapy smelling herb grown only in Oaxaca that we had used in the cooking class.

For some reason, for most of my cooking life, market people and grocers have given me something I did not ask for, something free, something they want me to use. From the man at the St. Lawrence market who gave me a different cut of chicken than I wanted and explained it was because he knew this was what I needed, to Terri at the cheese store who leads me down the cheese path to heaven, the lady at the Atwater market who decided I needed to learn about edible flowers on a Saturday morning, and the grocer in Italy who decided to give me sage and mint from her own garden, these are my market experiences. I take them for what they are, gifts from God, some divine connection of the souls of “foodies”.

Without a recipe, I proceed to make stuffed chilies. Please understand that this dish is a long process, several hours of prep are involved and much chopping, shredding, frying is required before we get to the eating. If you have a recipe for chile rellenos and fear that you are missing ingredients, have never attempted it and the whole long process just scares you, plow ahead! I have a funny story about tamales and Ralph that is a bit long to get into here, but suffice to say no Mexican will ever admit to your chiles being the best ever, so don’t sweat it. Jack up the music and consider these tips:

Choosing and skinning the peppers: The peppers you choose should be uniform in shape, with no divets or pockets that you have to work around. I used poblano chilies, my step-mother uses jalapeños, Oaxacans use chiles de agua, use whatever pepper makes sense for you, but try to avoid anything too large. You need to blacken the skin over a gas flame, all over the pepper, including close to the stem. If you don’t have a gas stovetop, consider the BBQ or one of those crème brulé torches.

A trick to getting the blackened skin off is to steam the blackened peppers in a plastic bag covered with a dishcloth. While the peppers are steaming, prepare and mix your ingredients. I used epazote, mint, parsley, black pepper, raisins, green olives, shredded chicken, zucchini, red onion, cheddar cheese.

Peel the peppers, make a slice down one side, gut then stuff them.

This is a good time to change the music and have a cocktail, a natural rest period. The next part is done in quick succession: put your oil on to heat, egg batter then flour the peppers, roll them gently in the batter (get your hands in there to get the pepper entirely coated. Without fail I overstuffed mine and had I “rolled” it, the stuffing would have ended up in the batter. I just used my fingers to make sure I battered the whole pepper.)

Set them in the hot oil, and turn them on their side, like this, to get the side of the batter nice and crisp. Consider that you may end up ordering pizza.

This is what the final product looks like. They are not pretty, don’t try to make them pretty.

I have to say, I think my chile rellenos were the best I have had in Oaxaca so far…Buen provecho!

1 comment:

winniedozois said...

They look delicious. Sound's like they are hot peppers not for me. Steve would probably love them. I can only eat the normal pepper's no green ones. So you could uses any kind of pepper. Will get the recipe when you are back home. Or come to Toronto, and let you make them for us. Here's to cooking. Love mom.xxxxxxxxxxxxxooooooooo