Cooking Like A Mexican

March 6, 2017 Edition
BY: ALEJANDRA SARACHAGA

Within the wide range of Mexican dishes, one that is a favorite for most people are chiles rellenos. The type of chile that is commonly used, the poblano chile, is excellent for this kind of dish because it is big and fleshy, and if you clean the seeds from the inside there is almost no heat or spice.

There is not much to say about the origin of the chile relleno. We know it originated in Puebla, by a nun in a convent, as most dishes from the region did. However, it is not known for certain which nun first came up with the idea.

Chiles rellenos can be filled with a long list of things, like shrimp, fish, veggies, ground beef, ground pork, tuna, turkey, etc. Today, I am writing about the poblano chile stuffed with cheese, served in tomato sauce. It is the most common type of chiles rellenos, and the one you will find on the menus of most Mexican restaurants. I have several tips for you on how to make your meal a success and get a lot of compliments on your cooking.

 

Ingredients (for six people):

12 large poblano chiles (Choose the ones that are straight and smooth, as these are easier to peel.)

2 large tomatoes

1 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

6 eggs

3 tablespoons of wheat flour

8 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound cheese, thinly sliced (You can use your favorite kind of cheese, but it has to be white, like feta or panella.)

 

First, we are going to prepare the tomato sauce. It’s good to have it ready, because the rest of the procedure will take all your concentration.

1. Toast or grill the tomatoes until the skin starts to peel off. You can leave the skin on, but this is the point at which they are ready.

2. Blend the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Add two cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened. Reserve.

The next step is to peel the chiles. It sounds easy, but it has its secrets. Chiles are often peeled by being placed over the flame of stove and turned with tongs until the skin blisters and burns slightly. Or, you can do the following:

1. Place the chiles in a 9 x 14 baking dish and put it on the top shelf of your oven, which needs to be heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Watch and listen closely. When the skins start making popping sounds and charring, take the chiles out and flip them over. Be sure to use a potholder so you don't burn your hands!

3. When both sides are fairly evenly charred, remove them from the oven.

4. Wrap each chile in a moist paper towel or place in a sealed plastic bag to steam.

5. Check them after a few minutes. Once the skin comes off easily, peel each chile.

6. Cut a slit along almost the full length of each chile. Make a small "t" across the top, by the stem. Pull out the fibers and seeds (this is where the heat is) and replace with the cheese. You can set these aside for a few minutes, or even a few hours if you want to make them ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator.

7. Whip the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer, until stiff peaks have formed.

8. Heat the oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the pan.

9. Beat the egg yolks with one tablespoon flour and salt. Mix the yolks into the egg whites and stir until you have a thick paste.

10. Roll the chiles in 1/4 cup flour and dip each one in the egg batter.

11. Place the chiles, one at a time, in the oil with the open end facing up. The batter will start to spread in the hot oil, so use your spatula to return any dripping batter to the chile to keep it coated.

12. Fry both sides until golden brown, a few minutes on each side. Place on paper towels to drain.

13. Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce in a medium saucepan. Place one or two chiles rellenos on each plate and pour the sauce over them. Serve them immediately. They go great with tortillas and refried beans, and brace yourself for major compliments!