Mexico: Chiles Rellenos

Peter and I decided to visit my best friend from high school, Meredith, in Mexico City for our summer vacation.  She lives in La Condesa, one of the nicest (somewhere between posh and hipster) neighborhoods in the city, filled with amazing restaurants, bars, cafes, parks, and tree-lined streets.  While we ate out a lot, we also bought homemade tortillas and Oaxaca cheese, vegetables, and artisan mole paste to eat en casa.  Meredith shops at little markets a few blocks from her apartment, where we saw a skinless pig head staring back from the meat stall.  The cheese stall was much more appetizing, and we tasted Panela and Oaxaca cheese, the latter of which is perfectly salty and can be pulled off in strips like string cheese.  Oaxaca is our preferred quesadilla cheese, and I think we may have eaten at least 3 kilos of it over the course of the week.  A very simple version of chiles rellenos was the first meal we made that didn’t consist entirely of quesadillas.  I’m sure there are more complicated versions, perhaps involving batter and frying, but as I’m not a huge fan of fried food, I think I prefer this way.

Simple Chiles Rellenos
(One stuffed pepper per person, probably best served with something else that isn’t quite as cheesy)
1 Poblano pepper per person, whole
Melty cheese, such as Oaxaca or jack, cut into strips
Scant oil for frying
Roast the Poblano peppers until the skin is mostly black and charred.  This can either be done directly on a low/medium gas stovetop or it can be done with a broiler.  Once the pepper skins are mostly black, place the peppers on a heat-proof plate immediately and cover with a plastic bag to let the peppers steam so that their skins are easier to remove.  Once the peppers are cool enough to peel, peel the peppers, trying not to break the them.  Then cut off the pepper tops and carefully scoop out the seeds.  Hopefully the peppers will be whole with a single hole cut in the top.  You can then stuff the peppers with the cheese.  Heat the scant oil in a pan and fry the peppers until the cheese is melted and the whole thing smells delicious!  Eat with something preferably a bit healthier, but who doesn’t love peppers and cheese once in a while???  I’m reminded of some cheese-stuffed jalapenos someone named Colin may have made back in the day.

The blue corn tortillas were amazing, and irresistible because they were, well, blue.  We tried quesadillas with only cheese, with multiple types of cheese, and with strips of chicken and pork with a simple homemade salsa of tomato, diced onion, lime juice, and plenty of salt and pepper.  Sauted pepper also makes a good addition, as do slices of avocado on top.

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2 thoughts on “Mexico: Chiles Rellenos

  1. I learned to make rellenos from an elderly Mexican woman in my neighborhood. Pretty much everything was the same as the above, except we did batter and fry them. It was an extremely simple process though, and not a true batter. To prepare:

    Separate 2 eggs. Beat the yolks. Whip the whites into stiff dry peaks. Fold the yolks into the whites. Dredge the stuffed peppers in flour, dip into the egg, then fry in a pan.

    We actually kept the pepper tops in, slitting the side of the pepper to remove seeds and add cheese. We pinned the slits closed with toothpicks before dredging/battering/frying. The pepper stems make good handles for manipulating the peppers in the pan.

    • Thanks for the recipe! I should try that when I see poblanos at the farmer’s market (we’re nearing the end of the pepper season so I don’t know if it will happen this year). This would also be excellent motivation to find Oaxaca cheese in the states.

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