Chile Relleno or “To Refill Peppers”
Peppers ranks among my favorite vegetables. The almost perennial woody bushes gives me fruits ranging from large and fleshy to small and spicy. Sometimes, however, I go overboard with the amount of peppers I plant: this year my gardens have over 70 pepper plants. The abundant amount of produce quickly grows out of control if not carefully managed.
I have little trouble with bell peppers since their thick flesh offers a wide selection of culinary choices. But when varieties posses thin flesh (or have heat), the options shrink. Chile Rellenos, the patriotic dish of Mexico, offers a great option for such a pepper to star in.
Chile rellenos result from a Mexican vegetable, the chile, stuffed, or refilled (“relleno” in Spanish), with Spanish-influenced meats and cheeses. Traditionally, the dish uses the poblano pepper, which imparts that characteristic flavor and a little heat.
Hot banana peppers make a wonderful substitution for those who, like me, crave more heat. The stuffing for the peppers includes cheeses and meats. I recommend a Spanish cheese such as the buttery sheep’s milk Manchego or smooth cheddar-like Mahon. The crumbly Mexican queso fresco also works well in combination with other cheeses. The chef traditionally makes the meat into a Picadillo, a Mexican hash, to stuff into the peppers.
Make the picadillo first for this recipe.
- 1/4 lb venison, finely chopped
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1 clove garlic
- olive oil for frying
- 12 oz. canned tomatoes, drained
- 3 or 4 sprigs parsley
- 1or 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 Lime
- Heat oil in a medium sauté pan until shimmering, and than add meat and brown.
- drizzle oil In another sauté pan and sweat onions. Add garlic once onions have sweated and cook until browned.
- Combine meat and onions and add remaining ingredients. Reduce until the “soups” turns into a moist “hash.”
- 4 poblano peppers (or if you like spicy, substitute hot banana peppers for the poblano peppers)
- 1 cup cheese (mahon , manchego [sheep], queso Chihuahua, quaso Oaxaca, etc)
- ½ cup picadillo (below)
- 4 eggs, separated (egg yolks in one bowl and egg whites in a large bowl)
- Roast and skin peppers. This is done easiest on the stovetop burner, but if you don’t have a gas stovetop, use your stove broiler. Rotate until blackened. With a towel, wipe off blackened skin.
- Seed peppers. Make an incision just below head of pepper, like you intend to cut the stem off but only halfway through. Then make a lengthwise cut to form a ‘T’ shape. Remove seeds and membrane.
- Mix together cheese and picadillo then stuff peppers.
- Prepare the egg batter by beating egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold into beaten egg yolks.
- In a cast iron skillet, heat ½ inch of oil until shimmering. Spoon a dollop of egg batter into oil, then place stuffed peppers atop. Spoon batter on top of pepper until covered. After about a minute, or when golden brown, flip and allow to fry until golden brown, about 3 more minutes.
- Place chiles on a plate and cover with your favorite salsa.