This dish was supposed to happen earlier in the week, but I got sidetracked by sardines, so I put it off for a couple of days. Luckily, the gorgeous poblano peppers I picked up at the Greenmarket on Saturday were still good, so I was able to make chiles rellenos last night.
Chiles rellenos are basically just stuffed peppers, dipped in a light batter and fried until golden, then served on a bed of light tomato broth. The traditional stuffing is picadillo, but it seems the version that appears most often in restaurants in the U.S. is the cheese-stuffed version. I actually prefer the cheesy version, but what I don’t like is ordering rellenos in a restaurant and getting peppers that are encased in such a thick batter that they sit in your stomach like a rock. Making them at home requires a little bit of work, but the result is totally worth it.
To prepare the chiles, place them under the broiler or on a hot grill or burner until the skin is charred and blistered on all sides. Set them aside until they are cool enough to handle, and then carefully peel the skin off. Cut a slit in one side and gently remove any seeds or membranes inside. Stuff each chile with shredded cheese – Monterey Jack, Oaxaca or Queso Quesadilla – and close up the slit with a toothpick. Set the chiles in the fridge for about 20 minutes so they firm up.
For the sauce, I combined a cup of our homemade chicken stock, a cup of crushed tomato, about a teaspoon each of ground cumin and chipotle powder, and a bit of salt in a small saucepan and warmed it over low heat while I got to work on the batter for the chiles. It’s basically Diana Kennedy’s version, though I downsized it just a bit (and still had plenty left over): separate three eggs, add a pinch of salt to the yolks, beat the whites until stiff but not dry, then beat in the yolks one at a time until you have a frothy, pale yellow mixture.
I heated about an inch of oil in a skillet, dusted the stuffed chiles in a bit of flour, dunked them in the batter to coat them, then placed them directly into the hot oil, gently turning them as each side browned. When the chiles were done cooking, I set them on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil and spooned some of the tomato broth onto our plates. I mounded some cumin and lime spiked black beans on top of that, then set the chiles on top.
Wine Pairing: Earlier this week I found a link to pairing wines with typical Mexican ingredients on Rick Bayless’ website, and I was eager to try one of the wines he suggested with our poblanos. Mike picked up this Gruner Veltliner at Union Square Wines, and it was just perfect with our meal, the crispness cutting right through the heat of the chiles.