Recipe: Chiles Rellenos
Chiles Rellenos are a staple of Mexican home cooking. Often stuffed with tuna, chicken, beef-based stews, vegetables, or cheese, the chile poblano is a mild and versatile chile. The recipe below is for chiles rellenos de queso en salsa de tomate (cheese-stuffed chiles in tomato sauce), one of Dominique’s favorite dishes. You can substitute the cheese for a vegan cheese for a vegan option. When considering how many chiles to make, keep in mind that one person with a fair appetite will typically eat two chiles.
4 Chiles Poblanos
2 Tomatoes (Diced)
1 Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Block of Cheese (ideally Oaxaca-style, but Mozzarella works, too)
1/2 Onion (Minced)
1 Clove of Garlic (Minced)
Salt and Pepper (You can also use Knorr Chicken or Vegetable Broth Powder to season)
Pinch of Sugar
Pinch of Dried Basil
1 Bay Leaf
How to Make Chiles Rellenos
Begin by dry-roasting the chiles. Place a flat metal pan, or comal (a pizza tin will do too), on the stove and turn on the flame to medium-low heat. Place the chiles directly on the pan with no oil. Turn them occasionally until the skin is charred on all sides. It should take 10 to 15 minutes.
Important note: You’ll probably want to turn on a fan and open a window for this part—dry-roasting releases a pretty persistent odor from the chiles!
2. Once the chiles are dry-roasted, place them in a plastic bag—a grocery bag will do—and tie closed. Leave them to sweat for about 20 minutes. Sweating makes the skin soft, which will make the chiles easier to peel.
3. While your chiles are sweating, prepare the sauce.
Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and cut the two fresh tomatoes into small cubes.
Heat some olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan, then add the diced onion. Sauté for one to two minutes until slightly translucent, and add the minced garlic. Cook that for another three minutes or so, then add the diced fresh tomatoes. You’ll want these to cook until they’re soft and mushy, about five minutes.
Then, add the canned tomatoes. Mix together and simmer, and season with salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar, dried basil, a bay leaf, and powdered chicken or vegetable bouillon to taste. Cover and continue to simmer at a low heat, mixing occasionally and seasoning, until the sauce is full of flavor.
4. Once your chiles are done sweating, take them out of the bag and peel them. Use the charred parts to get a hold on a corner of the skin, then pull gently. Ideally, the skin should come off in big shreds, exposing the soft flesh of the chile.
5. Make a cut along one of the folded edges of each chile. Reach in and gingerly remove the seeds from beneath the stem. It’s tricky, but try to remove as many seeds as you can, since this is where all the chile’s fire lives. Be careful not to split the flesh of the chile while you’re rooting around inside.
6. Stuff each chile. Insert the chunks of cheese through the slit. Be liberal! Each chile should be pretty full of cheese, as long as it’s not too close to splitting its sides.
7. “Stitch” the slit together with a toothpick. Gently pinch the two sides of the cut together with your fingers, and stick the toothpick in, under, and out again. This part takes practice, but the important thing is that the chile holds together.
8. Transfer your sauce to a wide pan over medium heat. Lower your chiles into their sauce bath, and cover them with sauce using a spoon. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring the sauce and covering the chiles occasionally. At the end, the cheese inside the chiles should be completely melted, and the sauce should be taking on some of the chiles’ smoky flavor.
9. Finally, serve the chiles, covered in sauce, with rice! Enjoy!