Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rosie Makes Chiles Rellenos.

Mr. Hawthorne and I found some nice poblano peppers
at Food Lion the other day.

It's time for chiles rellenos!

Like most Mexican dishes, chiles rellenos are "of the people."
Recipes are handed down from generation to generation
and everybody has an opinion about, and a recipe for, them.
In its most simplistic form,
Mexican cooking weaves three different flavor profiles
throughout its dishes.
You have a piquant element moderated by a starch,
with the deeper, more complex flavors of proteins intermingling.
Think of the simple combination of enchilada,
beans and rice, and salsa.
The salsa is the piquant high note
that opens your palate and senses.
The beans and rice are typically not spicy hot,
but serve to moderate the heat of the salsa.
The enchilada contains the primary flavors of the dish
and will range, in terms of heat,
somewhere between the salsa and the rice and beans.
And that's where the protein is.

Too much of any one dish is boring
and an ideal meal is made of several small offerings.

This is what I like about Mexican cuisine.
It is never boring.
 It is inherently geared to keeping things interesting and exciting.
If your salsa is too hot,
tone it down with a bite of the beans and rice.
If your palate is heavy from starch,
excite it with the salsa.
And between the two,
you have the undercurrent of primary flavors,
 including the protein,
 that carry the dish.

The word relleno means "stuffed"
and one is not limited to the type of stuffing.

You could stuff with beef, ground or shredded,
or pork,
or chicken,
or shrimp,
onions and peppers,
rice and beans,
and cheeses.

You can make any type of sauce
 with which to nap your stuffed concoction:
A heady, spicy, multi-layered dried pepper mixture
with toasted cumin seeds, garlic, and tomatoes
that's been cooked down to velvety goodness.
A creamy, citrusy, freshly-herbed, wine sauce.

A delicate, tarragon lobster stock with shrimp.
Melted cheeses.
Oh my.
The possibilities.

I'm going plebian.
Ground beef, red and black beans,
 onion, peppers, and cheeses for the stuffing.

As for the beans,
I always used dried beans, never canned.
I never soak mine overnight.
I simply rinse them off.
Pour them into boiling UN-salted water.
Mr. Hawthorne saw on Food Network
that salting the water causes beans to lose their skins.
I simmer for 20 minutes.
Pour out the water.
Rinse the beans.
Refresh the water.
Put the beans back in
and simmer until al dente.
About 15-20 minutes more.
I used a combo of red kidney beans and black beans.

My hamburger meat was marked down.
Rosie never pays full price for meats.

About that much onion, green pepper, and jalapeno.

Chop the onion and the peppers.

Brown the meat in a skillet in a little melted butter for flavor.
Add in the onion and peppers.

Use a paper towel to soak up the excess grease.

Add seasonings.
Mr. Hawthorne is Semi-Ho'ing with a taco seasoning packet.
Alternately, you could use freshly ground salt and pepper,
cumin, oregano, and cayenne.
Taste test.

Start with 1/2 tsp each seasoning for the meat,
which was less than 1 pound.

Add a little water to the pan and stir to mix well.
Set aside.

When picking your chiles for chiles rellenos,
several factors need to be considered.
First, choose a chile big enough to accommodate your stuffing.
Second, you don't want a chile so hot
that it would mask the flavor of the filling.
Nor do you want a chile with little flavor and no heat.
The chile is more than a conveyance for the stuffing;
it's an integral part of the dish.
Anaheims, poblanos, and jalapenos are the three chiles
primarily used for rellenos.

Anaheims and poblanos are rather mild chiles.
Jalapenos, depending on when they're harvested,
can be very hot.
A lot I get from Food Lion aren't hot at all.
I look for striations in the jalapeno.
Little lines that travel vertically down the pepper.
That's a sign for HOT.

When I use a jalapeno for a chile relleno,
I stuff it with cheeses to temper the heat.

Today,  I'm using poblanos.

The chiles need to be roasted to prepare them for stuffing.
The waxy outer skin needs to be removed.
I love the flavor that roasting imparts to peppers.
The flavor changes.
It's less sharp;
it's mellow;
it's deeper and richer.

Char the skin all over.

Plunge the blistered peppers into ice water.

The charred skin can easily be rubbed off with thumb and forefinger.

Dry off with a paper towel.
Slice down the side of the chile ...

... exposing the seedpod.

Remove seed pod with a small paring knife.

Clean out the seeds and pat the chiles dry.

I'm ready to stuff my chiles:
Seasoned browned ground beef mixture.
Red kidney beans and black beans.
Can of corn, drained.
Charred poblanos.
Not shown:
Monterey Jack Cheese
Queso Fresco

I put in a base of rice and corn in our poblanos
 for Middle Hawthorne and me,

Mr. Hawthorne won't eat rice and corn.
Not on his "diet."

But fried chiles are OK, apparently.

By the way, he's lost 48 pounds.

I added in a slice of Monterey Jack cheese.

Some of the bean mixture and crumbles of Queso Fresco.

Mr. Hawthorne only got the beans and ...
... the meat mixture and a little cheese.

I stuff to the gills.

I can be a little O/C with the toothpicks.

Set stuffed peppers aside.
Clean up your counters.
Light a scented candle.
Have a glass of wine.

Next, I'm making a beer batter.
Basic Beer Batter
2 egg whites
1 whole egg
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
(Don't go by the picture of the cornstarch.
That's 1/4 cup up there.
I started with that and decided the batter needed more.
Rosie is nothing if not a work in process.)
2 tsp oil olive oil
1/2 cup beer

Beat egg whites until you have stiff peaks.
Set aside.
Beat the whole egg.
Slowly whisk in the olive oil,
flour, cornstarch, and beer
until you have a lump-free, batter-like consistency.
Gently fold in the egg whites.
Refrigerate 30 minutes before using.

Start a-whuppin' the egg whites.

Beat until you have stiff peaks.

Whup the whole egg with some whites left on the beaters.

Flour and cornstarch.

Olive oil.

Beer in.

Fold egg whites into batter.
Refrigerate 30 minutes.

While the batter was chillin' in the fridge,
I made a quick salsa.

4 Roma tomatoes
wedge of red onion
dried red pepper
handful of cilantro

Always peel your tomatoes.
And that little gadget does a great job.

Always seed and juice your tomatoes.
Just squish 'em.

Give the tomaters a nice chop.

Chop the onions and add to the party.

Minced jalapeno.
And some minced dried hot pepper.

Add in 1 short tablespoon of sugar,
and one tablespoon each of Balsamic and apple cider vinegars.
The Balsamic vinegar gives a nice mellow flavor to the salsa.
Mix well.

After thirty minutes,
I'm ready to batter my chiles.

One thing I should have done here
is to flour the poblanos first,
then dip in the batter to coat.
Batter would've attached better with the flour on the pepper flesh.

I dropped the chiles rellenos one at a time into 360 degree peanut oil.
Fry around 2 minutes each side, until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels.

 Serve with Queso Fresco,
salsa, and cilantro leaves.

I love the batter.
Very light and crisp.

Next time, I will add salt and cayenne to the batter.

And the innards are delicious.
Nice balance of flavors.
And textures.

And colors.

Melty goodness.

Wish I'd bought more poblanos.
I have more stuffing left.

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