Are you a fan of Mexican or New Mexican cuisine? If so, you’ve probably heard of the mouthwatering dish called Chile Relleno. This traditional Mexican dish consists of a roasted Hatch green chile pepper stuffed with cheese, dipped in a fluffy egg batter, and then fried to perfection. The result is a crispy, golden brown exterior with a gooey, cheesy center that is simply irresistible.
Choosing the Perfect Hatch Green Chiles
The first step in making a delicious Chile Relleno is selecting the right Hatch green chiles. Look for fresh, plump peppers that are straight, free of blemishes and have a vibrant green color. The heat level can vary, so choose according to your preference. Some like it mild, while others prefer a spicier kick. The best varieties of chile for a relleno are typically mild and medium varieties such as Big Jim or Numex 6-4. For those that want more spice, a great option is Miss Junie, which is nice and spicy, but also meaty and not much smaller than a Big Jim. Extra hot and hotter chile such as Barker or Lumbre can also work, but it will be a lot of work making enough rellenos to feed a family.
Roasting the Chiles
Roasting the chiles is an essential step that adds a smoky flavor to the dish. There are a few different methods you can use to roast the chiles:
- Grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Place the chiles directly on the grill grates and cook, turning occasionally, until the skin is charred and blistered.
- Broil: Preheat your broiler and place the chiles on a baking sheet. Broil them, turning occasionally, until the skin is charred and blistered.
- Gas stove: If you have a gas stove, you can roast the chiles directly over the flame. Use tongs to turn them until the skin is charred and blistered.
Once the chiles are roasted, place them in a plastic bag or a covered bowl for about 10 minutes. This will steam the chiles and make it easier to remove the skin. Alternatively, you can get us to roast a sack of chile for you during the chile season to save you some time!
Stuffing the Chiles
After the chiles have cooled, carefully peel off the charred skin. Make a small slit along the side of each chile and remove the seeds. Be sure to handle the chiles with care, as they can be quite delicate.
Next, it’s time to stuff the chiles with cheese. Traditional options include Monterey Jack or Oaxaca cheese, but you can also get creative and use a combination of cheeses like Cheddar, Queso Fresco, or even goat cheese. Gently stuff the chiles with the cheese, making sure not to overfill them.
Some people also like to sautee some meat like ground beef and add it to the filling. Alternatively it is not unheard of to stuff a chile relleno with Spanish rice. If you have a lot of chile available, don’t be afraid to be creative. Chile rellenos are hard to burn the filling, as the chile pepper is a great shield for whatever is inside.
Preparing the Egg Batter
The egg batter is what gives the Chile Relleno its signature fluffy texture. In a large bowl, separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the yolks until well combined. This will ensure that you have a lot of air bubbles giving the batter a light a fluffy texture.
Frying the Chiles
Heat oil in a deep frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle when you drop a small amount of batter into it, but not so hot that it is smoking.
Take each stuffed chile and dip it into the egg batter, making sure it is coated evenly. Carefully place the battered chile into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chile from the oil and place it on a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
Serving and Enjoying
Once the Chile Rellenos are fried to perfection, it’s time to serve and enjoy them. They can be served on their own as a main dish, or with a side of rice and beans for a complete meal. Top them with your favorite salsa or sauce, such as a tangy tomato salsa or a creamy avocado sauce. In New Mexico, we love to ask the question “Red or Green?” and this is no exception. If you want to put a green or red sauce on top of it or on the side, it is a great addition to this dish. It is also a good way to increase the spice level.
The combination of the crispy exterior, the gooey cheese filling, and the smoky flavor of the Hatch green chiles makes for a truly delightful culinary experience. So why not give it a try and impress your friends and family with your homemade Chile Rellenos?
Remember, making Chile Rellenos takes a bit of time and effort, but the end result is well worth it. So put on your apron, gather your ingredients, and get ready to create a delicious Mexican masterpiece in your own kitchen!
Tips to make spicy rellenos
If you are a spice lover, a chile relleno might not be the ideal food for you as it comes. The reason why, is that chile rellenos are best made with less spicy chile. If you find that the heat is not up to your preference, instead of changing chile varieties, I recommend using and extra-hot or hotter chile powder and incorporating it into your stuffing. This will raise the overall spice level of the dish while still allowing you to use a big, thick, and meaty chile. It will save you a lot of work, and I think it is a much better way to have extra hot chile rellenos without needing to make 5 per person.