Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chiles Rellenos with Chipotle Red Sauce

There aren’t many ingredients in chiles rellenos, but the preparation takes a little time and effort—both worth it. A simple filling of soft, gooey cheese and an easy but rich red sauce make this dish flavorful and satisfying.

If you’re not used to blistering the skin of chiles in order to remove it, there are step-by-step instructions and photos below. It’s not difficult, and the key is simply to give the charred chiles time to “steam” in a closed bag in order to loosen the skin and make it even easier to peel.

Not all chiles rellenos recipes call for beating the egg whites before combining them with the yolks to form a batter—but that’s the authentic way to do it. And it really makes a difference in how the batter adheres to the chiles and turns that wonderful golden brown when fried. The addition of a little flour to the yolks makes the mixture fairly stiff, but once stirred into the whipped whites, it all comes together as a rich, creamy batter.

Serves 4


For the Sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 habanero chile, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh tomato sauce (or good-quality canned)
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
For the Chiles Rellenos
  • 4 medium poblano (or anaheim) chiles
  • 6 oz monterey jack cheese or queso fresco, cut into 8 slices (about the length of the chiles)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 tbsp
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • sea salt
  • canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • 2 cups cooked white rice, for serving
  • chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
Poblano Chiles 
Sliced Cheese for the Poblanos

For the Sauce
  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion, garlic, chipotle peppers, and habanero (if using) and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 3 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, adobo sauce, cumin, and chile powder and season with salt. Bring to a light simmer and cook 5 minutes.
Onion Mixture Beginning to Cook
Remaining Ingredients Added
  1. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes. Pour the mixture into a food processor and puree. Add the broth in a stream and process until the mixture is a thin sauce.
  2. Return the sauce to the saucepan and keep warm over very low heat. (Or, cool completely and remove to a sealable container. Refrigerate overnight and re-warm before proceeding.)
Pureed Tomato-Chipotle Mixture
Chipotle Red Sauce
For the Chiles Rellenos
  1. If you have a gas range, place the poblano chiles on burners directly over the flame until blackened and blistered, about 8 minutes, turning often to char all sides (for electric ranges, place under a broiler, turning to char all sides).
Chiles Beginning to Char 
Charred Chiles
  1. Place the poblanos in a paper bag for 15 minutes to steam and loosen the skin.
  2. Remove the chiles from the bag and use a paring knife to gently scrape off the skin. (It’s okay if a few flecks remain.)
  3. Carefully cut a slit along 1 side of each chile, from the stem to almost the tip, and cut away as much of the seed pod at the top as possible, while leaving the stem intact. Wipe out any loose seeds as well.
Gently Scrape the Blistered Skin 
Make a Slit in the Chile 
Remove Seed Pod and Loose Seeds
  1. Divide the cheese, placing 2 slices each in the cavities of the chiles. (Don’t over-stuff—be sure the chiles will close over the filling.)
  2. Spread 2/3 cup of flour in a large baking dish. Gently roll each filled chile in the flour, coating evenly and keeping the seam together. 
Floured, Stuffed Poblanos
  1. Beat the egg whites in a bowl with a hand-mixer until stiff peaks form, 7-8 minutes.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the yolks with 1 tablespoon of flour and salt. Stir the yolk mixture into the whites, combining thoroughly to form a light batter.
Whipped Egg Whites
Yolk Mixture Stirred In
  1. Pour oil to a depth of about 1/3 inch in a large frying pan and heat until hot enough to sizzle a small drop of batter as soon as it hits the oil (about 365° F).
  2. Turn each floured chile in the batter, coating evenly. Place the chiles in the hot oil and fry until golden, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Chiles Rellenos Beginning to Cook
Cooked Chiles Rellenos
To serve, divide the rice among 4 plates and place a chile relleno on top of each. Spoon sauce over all and garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve right away.

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