The search for AUTHENTIC MEXICAN CHILE RELLENOS is over, thanks to my friend Laura and her mom’s recipe. I’m doing a little happy dance right now. And by “recipe” I mean several phone conversations in Spanish about ingredients and methodology which I will attempt to recreate here. Halfway through cooking her mom called to make sure everything was OK. This was Laura’s first time to cook them herself, and I was her trepidatious student after hearing how this was her family’s favorite meal, and no one but her mom ever attempted it.
Before I gave up eating meat, chile rellenos used to be my go-to barometer at Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants. Because if they could nail a chile relleno, I might explore the rest of the menu. I arrived at Laura’s expecting something deep-fried and smothered in lots of shredded cheese, and was soon schooled that that is NOT a chile relleno. They are fried in a light batter, and then sit in a rich tomato sauce to marinate for about 20 minutes. We might as well have been performing open-heart surgery when I picked up the tongs to transfer the fried chiles to the sauce (tomatoes, garlic, bullion, onion and oil), and Laura gave me explicit directions so that the batter wouldn’t fall off. It didn’t.
We proudly ate the results while watching “Chef” and I didn’t even want any of the food in the movie. I now probably won’t order chile rellenos at restaurants because A) they won’t be this good and b) I can make them more cheaply myself. This weekend, before summer gets really hot and you only want to eat salad, run to the grocery store, get a few ingredients, and make these authentic chile rellenos! The recipe below serves 4. There are a lot of steps but technically it is pretty easy!
Things we would change: use a little less oil in sauce pans; use all fresh tomatoes instead of canned; use veggie bullion instead of chicken (OK that last one is just me). Also I usually don’t cook with canola oil but when something is a family recipe passed down to another generation, you don’t screw it up. You listen to your mama.
4 green chiles
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
6 roma tomatoes (we did half canned, half regular)
1 clove garlic
1 cup canola/veggie oil
1/2 cup white flour
1 tbs bullion
some kind of bread or tacos for dipping into broth
for veggie-stuffed chiles: firm tofu & mozzarella. You can use another cheese as long as it’s not crumbly.
for meat-stuffed chiles: ground turkey/beef and frozen vegetable medley
1. Burn the chiles on the stovetop until they are nicely charred. After charring, place them into a plastic bag for about 20 minutes to sweat. That way the skin will peel more easily.
2. Prepare fillings. For veggie-stuffed chiles, cut tofu and mozzarella into long strips, about 1/2 inch in width. For meat-stuffed chiles, prepare ground meat as you normally would, add some frozen veggies and refrigerate until needed.
3. Heat 1/4 cup veggie oil in skillet. Add onion. Simmer until slightly translucent and lightly browned. Turn off burner.
4. With small knife, scrape chiles so that charred skin is removed. Make a slit in each chile to add filling. Carefully remove seed pod.
5. Stuff with fillings from step #2, seal with toothpick and coat with flour on all sides. Set aside.
6. Mix garlic and tomatoes in blender. Add bullion to taste. Mixture should equal 4 cups. If it’s not enough, add some veggie/chicken stock (but we added water and it tasted fine!)
7. Add blender mixture to onion skillet and let simmer.
8. In separate frying pan, heat remaining oil slowly. This is what the chiles will fry in.
9. Separate eggs yolks and whites into two different bowls. Egg whites should be in large mixing bowl. Beat egg whites very quickly with hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add half a teaspoon of salt, then yolks. Mix again until just combined.
10. Dip chiles into egg batter and immediately transfer to oil once the oil starts bubbling (use your hands). Repeat until all chiles are in pan and frying. Don’t crowd the chiles—if you have a small pan just do two at a time.
11. When chiles are lightly browned, turn them over and fry the other side.
12. When chiles are completely fried (should be golden brown, not dark brown), transfer to tomato broth pan with tongs. Let them marinate for about 20 minutes.
13. Serve each person 1 chile, with lots of the broth and a side of bread or tortillas for dipping into the broth.