One of my great finds at the farmers market a few weeks ago were these beautiful, hearty, red poblano peppers. I knew as soon as I saw them, they would become a Chile Relleno recipe. I just couldn’t see blending them up into a salsa recipe and not really enjoying it’s full flavor. I found myself with a few chicken breast, cheese and jalapeños in escabeche (pickled), so rellenos for dinner it was. Instead of the traditional egg batter that my mom used to prepare for rellenos, I decided to go with some seasoned homemade breadcrumbs I had in my freezer. And instead of frying them, I baked them instead. I have prepared many breaded recipes in the oven with great success. The results are a crispy and crunchy finish without all the extra oil. The filling was inspired by these great chicken tostadas we used to enjoy on our family trips to Monterrey. Tender, shredded chicken, mixed with Mexican crema, pickled jalapeños and brine. Can’t forget the jalapeño brine, it adds great acidity! The creamy guacamole was perfect too!
5 large poblanos, red or green
2 large boneless chicken breast (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large pickled jalapeños, seeded and minced,
1/3 to 1/2 cup mexican crema or sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño brine
salt and pepper, to taste
8 thin slices of deli ham
4 to 6 oz. asadero or mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced into thin strips
2/3 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
*For Homemade Breadcrumb recipe, go to the end of this post
1. Preheat broiler on high for 5 minutes. Line a baking sheet with foil paper, add the washed poblanos. Broil the peppers for about 20 minutes, turning peppers and rotating pan halfway through cooking time. Never leave the broiler unattended. Remove peppers, transfer to a plastic storage bag and let steam and cool.
2. In a pot, cover chicken with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring up to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes or until chicken is tender. Let cool in the poaching liquid while you prep.
3. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a saute pan. Add the red onions and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the minced pickled jalapeños, stir and remove from heat.
4. Remove the chicken from poaching liquid and shred finely. In a bowl, combine the chicken, sauteed onion/mixture, crema, lime juice, jalapeño brine, salt and pepper (to taste). Remove blistered skins, stems and seeds from poblanos. Try not to tear the pepper too much. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Set up breading station. I find that a rectangular shallow dish works best. Combine the flour, with salt and pepper in one. Whisk the eggs with hot sauce in number two. Add the seasoned breadcrumbs to number three.
6. Open up the roasted poblano pepper, layer 2 slices of ham across, leaving a small border all the way around. Spread out some of the chicken mixture. Add some cheese over chicken, roll gently, but as tight as you can. Once they are all filled, dredge in flour, dip in egg then coat with breadcrumbs. Transfer to a lined baking sheet that has been drizzled with oilve oil. Place seam side down. Drizzle a little more olive oil over top of peppers. Bake for 30 minutes, move up to broiler and broil for 1 more minute. Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving. Yields 4 servings. Serve with rice and your favorite guacamole or salsa for topping.
Seasoned Homemade Breadcrumbs Recipe
8 stale bolillos, sliced into 1 inch pieces
2 teaspoons annatto powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon vinegar powder, optional
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder or cayenne
More salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle with oil and season lightly with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
In two batches, add half of the croutons to the food processor. Divide the spices in half, add to bread. Process by pulsing at first. Process until you get fine breadcrumbs. Spread out onto lined baking sheet and let them dry overnight before storing in a freezer bag (in the freezer) until ready to use. Yields about 4 cups.