Chiles rellenos! I have lost count on the many times I have prepared chiles rellenos these past 37 years! The most recent time was a few months back. Every time I share a chile relleno post, it typically gets a positive and good response. My most recent video for this recipe had an overwhelming response on social media. It was like I had posted rellenos for the very first time! Ninety eight percent of the response was great, but you know there will always be those few skeptics. Here’s my story, lol!
If You Think You Know Everything, Then There Is No More Room To Grow!
If you go through life thinking you know everything, know how to do everything then how will you grow as a person. How will you grow as a cook, in this case, if you believe that a certain recipe can only be prepared in one matter or with only certain ingredients? How do you think recipes are developed? By testing, experimenting, trial and error and simply by thinking outside the box! For example, I learned, by watching my mom how to roast fresh poblano peppers on a preheated comal(griddle). Of course there are other methods like fire roasting, broiling, grilling, frying and now air frying. I have tried them all! Find what works best for you and run with it.
What’s Happening With Social Media These Days?
If you thought preparing chiles rellenos was difficult and labor intensive, try posting on social media these days, lol! It’s a jungle out there. Honestly, I personally have never heard so much negativity on food post than I have this past year. Not just my post, but many post in general. When people are commenting that they just search a post to read the comments, it’s kind of discouraging to keep sharing new recipes. That’s just my feeling towards that subject. Because what happens is the following day or same day, I will receive the most heartfelt email or inbox from a follower who is so thankful they found your blog and recipes. It’s then when I realize and know why I love doing this.
Is It Poblano Or Pasilla Pepper?
Why do they confuse us so much? Ha, ha, ha! On any given day I go to the market to purchase chile peppers and the poblanos are listed as pasilla peppers and vice versa. So which is it? You see this same thing in the dried chile section. Except in the dried chiles the dried poblano is either labeled as ancho or pasilla. But right next to that is a dried chile pasilla that is long, skinny and almost black in color? Yet in the previous market is was labeled chile negro! What?! Lol! I tried to explain the chile poblano, ancho pasilla issue on social media one day and was told that they are not the same pepper! Just to add a little more confusion to the whole issue. In my experience, on the west coast you will see the poblano labeled pasilla. In Texas I see it labeled both, but on the east coast it’s typically always listed as poblano. Don’t even get me started on the whole chile rojo and chile colorado subject! Oh boy!
How Do I Choose Good Peppers For Rellenos?
First thing I do is look for smooth texture and avoid blemishes or wrinkled peppers. The weight of the pepper is very important too. The lightweight peppers don’t have much flesh and may result in flimsy peppers once roasted. Tearing may occur more often. Look for peppers that are mostly flat with the least amount of curling or odd shapes. You need a flatter surface for more even roasting and blistering of the skins. Don’t fret if some spots on the pepper don’t blister. Nothing is going to happen, I promise. Depending on the cooking surface and shape of the pepper, it may get hotter in spots which will cause the pepper to darken in spots even after removing the skins. It’s ok! Definitely not the end of the world.
Plastic Or Paper???
Steaming the peppers once they have been roasted can be done in a few ways. A plastic bag seems to be the more popular choice according to my followers. Then again, some people dislike the idea of that hot plastic with it’s chemicals for their peppers. A paper bags works well and so does wrapping the peppers in a clean kitchen towel. Tried them all. I personally try to avoid wasting the plastic if possible, but sometimes I do use it. Whatever gets the job done so you can move on to the next step, that is the way to go!
Gloves Are A Must! But, Most Times They Don’t Work For Me!
I think it drives some of my followers crazy when they see me handling chile peppers with no gloves on! I tried in the past, but most gloves are too long in the fingers for my hands and I find they just get in the way to get the job done. Would I suggest wearing gloves if you can? Yes! I try to clean out the pepper as best I can, but there will be a few seeds left behind. Recently I watched a famous chef, popular in authentic Mexican cooking, rinse the peppers after peeling the skins off. I had never rinsed the peppers before. Curiosity got the best of me and I tried it. Did I notice a difference in the flavor of the rellenos in the end? No, I really didn’t. Would I do it again? Probably not.
What Kind Of Cheese Please???
Use what you like, but don’t limit yourself to thinking you could only use one variety. Oaxaca, Chihuahua, Queso Quesadilla, Fresco, Cotija and even monterey jack cheese are all the varieties I have tried in the past. My first choice is Oaxaca, then Chihuahua cheese. Both are creamy and delicious! On this day I had a huge block of monterey jack cheese, so that’s what I used. Why did I shred it? I wanted to stuff every space available in the roasted pepper! Just placing a stick of cheese down the center would not accomplish that, in my opinion. Yes, it’s a little more work using the shredded cheese, but if you already went through all the trouble.
I Never Had Cheese Stuffed Rellenos Growing Up!
Mom’s chile rellenos were always filled with picadillo con papa (ground beef and potato). Nobody missed dinner on those nights! For many years now I have been sharing my version of mom picadillo con papa chile relleno recipe. Why do I state it’s my version? Because everyone knows that mom’s version is always magic and we can rarely ever duplicate it exactly, lol! I have tried my hand on the cheese chile relleno, of course. I am a cook after all and how will I learn if I never try? So what do you think happened when I shared my cheese chile relleno version??? Some people following the post stated that it was not an authentic relleno, but more like an Americanized version because it was cheese! Oh my goodness, ha, ha, ha! What about the other 200 times I shared the picadillo version? I can’t win, I guess. But, that won’t stop me!
Where’s The Relleno? It’s Frozen! Lol!
Several years back, I watched a cooking traveling show. I can’t remember exactly where they were, but they were preparing chiles rellenos filled with cheese. After they stuffed them with cheese, they proceeded to freeze them for one hour. Freezing them made the dipping into batter a lot easier. No chiles falling open and making things difficult. Of course I had to try it! Worked like a charm, even with the big stuffed picadillo rellenos. I was happy! Something that is going to make the process easier. I will take it! Some followers expressed their dislike of me freezing the stuffed peppers. I promise you, if I didn’t think it worked or altered the flavor in anyway, I would not share it with you. In the end it’s up to you though.
I apologize that I don’t really have a lot of images of me preparing the easy caldillo sauce! I do have a video though.
- Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
- Large skillet for frying peppers
- 5 large poblano peppers Washed and dried
- 3-4 cups Oil for frying and for brushing
- 1 1/2 lbs Oaxaca, Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded Some people like to use queso fresco or cotija
- 5 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 c all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
For Caldillo Sauce
- 4-5 Roma tomatoes
- 1-2 chile serrano
- 3 chile de arbol
- 1/4 onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 2 tsps tomato or chicken bouillon
- 1/3 tsp oregano
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups cooking water from tomatoes
- 2 tsps oil
Easy Caldillo Sauce
- SEE VIDEO ABOVE FOR EASY INSTRUCTIONS
- Wash and dry the poblano peppers. Decide how you like to roast the poblano peppers. See Notes For Roasting Methods
- Once you have roasted the peppers, you can place them in a covered container, a plastic bag or even a paper bag to sweat the peppers. Most times I just cover them with a clean kitchen towel. let them sweat for 15-20 minutes.
- When ready, carefully remove as much of the blistered skins away as possible from the poblanos. If the peppers overcook, they can be very soft and tend to tear. Be aware when handling them.
- In my most recent video of me preparing chiles rellenos, I rinsed one of the poblanos under cool water to help me remove the small pieces of the blistered skins that remained. Many people commented that I should never do that! Lol! I wanted to try it because I saw a well known chef who is famous for cooking authentic Mexican food do it. I won't mention any names. In all honesty, I did not think it took any flavor away from the chile relleno in the end. Do whatever works for you.
- Using a small sharp knife, slice a T at the base of the pepper, about 3/4 of an inch below the stem. Using a spoon or your fingers, carefully remove as much of the seeds as possible. If you have gloves, you can wear gloves to remove the seeds. Be careful not to pull on the loose membranes inside the pepper because it can cause the pepper to tear open.
- Shredded cheese or a stick of cheese? I have used both. I decided that the shredded cheese could fill all the spaces in the poblano better than a stick of cheese. Again, do what works best for you. After stuffing all the peppers carefully, make sure they can still close all the way. Don't worry if they have some other tears besides where you initially sliced them. Just try to cover all the exposed spots with the pepper.
- To freeze or not to freeze! A few years back I watched a video of a restaurant preparing huge quantities of rellenos. They shared how they would freeze the stuffed peppers for 1 hour to firm them up. This made is easier to dip the peppers in the batter. If you don't want to freeze them, that's ok. It makes it easier for me so that's why I do it. If freezing, place stuffed peppers on a plate lined with wax or parchment paper. Freeze for 1 hour. In all the times I have used the freezing step, I have never had any issues with cold or frozen rellenos after I fried them. If you are not serving them directly after frying them, of course they will get cold as it sits.
- After and hour, remove the peppers from the freezer. Let them sit for a few minutes while you preheat the oil in a large skillet at medium heat. I try to let the oil preheat for a few minutes before I prepare the batter. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites for a few minutes until stiff peaks form. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down and the egg batter should stay in place. To the bowl, add 1 tsp. of salt, 1 tbsp. of flour and the egg yolks. Mix on low until smooth.
- When you know the oil is hot enough (365 degrees F), then quickly unstick the pepper from the lined plate and dust with flour. Gently pat off excess flour. If the peppers are firm enough, holding the pepper by the stem, dip it into the egg batter and roll from side to side slowly to coat evenly with batter. You can use a small spoon to help you cover the pepper with batter. If the stem wants to tear away, you will use a large cooking spoon to place the relleno in the batter. There no way to sugar coat this! Lol! It can get messy and you have to multi tasks during these steps.
- Carefully place relleno into hot oil. Let it cook for 30 seconds. Using a small spoon, gently spoon some hot oil over the egg batter. If you do this too fast, it will push the batter off. Spoon oil over for a few minutes. After about 4 minutes, use two spatulas to carefully flip relleno over. The batter may rip a little. Use a small spoon to push it back into place. Spoon some oil over the spots that need more browning. If the batter is cooking to fast, your heat may be too high. Temper the heat as needed. The rellenos cook for 8-9 minutes total time. Use the two spatulas to remove the relleno and transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
- If you feel comfortable frying more than one relleno at a time, you can do that. Once the rellenos are all fried, pat off excess oil with paper towels. Naturally they will cool off as they sit there. You can place them in the simmering caldillo sauce to warm them before serving. You could also warm the rellenos by themselves in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. I like to ladle the hot caldillo over the top after warming the relleno. Serve with rice, beans and warm tortillas.