Sunday, March 15, 2020

Rosie Makes Chile Rellenos.

We're having chile rellenos today with a smoky intense enchilada sauce made from dried chilies.
You know those big bags of dried chili peppers in the Hispanic section of the store?  I'm going to tell you how to use those for a sauce you can make that will go a looooong way.  

Before I start on the recipes, let's clarify a few points.
#1 What's the difference between chile and chili?
     Chile refers to the plant, like a chile pepper.
     Chili refers to the culinary dish, like hot dogs and chili.
  Now, to confuse you, the powder can be either chili or chile, depending on what's in it. Chile powder is made up out of pure ground dried chile peppers.  Chili powder is generally a blend of chile peppers and other spices, including oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper.

#2  What is a chile relleno?
      It's a stuffed pepper.
      And that stuffing, or filling, can be most anything you fancy.

I'm making my chile rellenos using poblano peppers, which I first roast over an open flame, then wipe off the blackened skin.  Next, I'll fill the peppers with a mixture of meat (I'm using ground bison since I have it.  Hamburger meat would do just fine.), rice, and cheese.  Next, I'll batter and fry the stuffed peppers, then serve them on a pool of red, Spanish-style sauce made with dried chiles, with homemade salsa on the side.

 Let's make the red sauce first.  I'll be using a mix of dried chiles along with some Mexican spices to make a batch of the sauce. 
I have dried California, guajillo, and pasilla chiles.
The California chile is a dried form of the Anaheim chile.
The guajillo chile is the dried form of a mirasol chile.
And the pasilla chile is a dried chilaca chile.
You can use whatever dried chiles you have on hand.  Whatever dried chiles you have will give your sauce a nice smoky, authentic flavor.

Grab 3 or 4 chiles of each kind.

Cover chiles with about 4 cups of water.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for around 30 minutes or so until the chiles are tender.  Drain and reserve the cooking liquid.  (I had about 1 1/2 cups liquid left over.)

Rest of ingredients:
1 TB oil
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, stirring, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook about a minute.  (Whenever you're cooking garlic, be careful not to burn it.  It gets bitter and will ruin your dish.)  Add rest of ingredients and bare-simmer for about 20 minutes.

Transfer cooked chiles and reserved cooking liquid to a blender and purée until smooth.

Add puréed sauce to tomato mixture and slowly heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes.  Taste test and adjust seasonings as needed.

This makes right much sauce, so I'm going to freeze most of it, using only what I need.   It's a strong-flavored sauce and a little goes a long way, so I'm diluting it a bit with another can of tomato pieces.  Next time you want an authentic-tasting sauce, you'll already have the base in your freezer.  For my chile relleno sauce, I mixed 1 14.5 oz. can of tomato chunks with 1/2 can of the above sauce, puréed the two sauces, then heated them up.  Adjust seasonings accordingly.

Here are the step-by-steps:
First I sautéed the chopped onions in a little oil.

When the onions softened, I added a can of diced tomatoes and the spices.

Rosie Note:  If you like, you can add in a cinnamon stick or a pinch of cinnamon here.  Gives a little warmth to the sauce.  (Discard the stick later.)  I would've added the cinnamon, but then I'd have to listen to Mr. Hawthorne wondering, "What did you put in here??!!??"

Purée the cooked and softened dried chiles.

Add the puréed chiles to the tomato mixture.

Stir in until blended.
As always, taste test.
If you like, you can purée this sauce to smooth it out.  Or you can just leave it as is.  I happen to like the texture.

It has a strong smoky flavor, so I dilute when I'm making my final sauce for enchiladas, chile rellenos, burritos, tacos, or whatever.  Two parts crushed or chunky tomatoes to one part of this smoky and savory red sauce.
If you want to purée a bit, go right ahead.

Now that my sauce is done, I'm ready to start on the chile rellenos.
I'm using poblano peppers.  They're a mild variety of chile pepper and an excellent pepper to use for stuffing.

The first thing you need to do is char the peppers and remove the blistered skins.
I set the peppers over an open flame, but lacking a flame, one could blacken them under the broiler.
After blackening the skins, immerse in ice water.

Use your fingers or a paper towel to rub the char off.

Make a slice lengthwise
and remove the seeds.

Ready for stuffing.


As for filling the peppers, you're only limited to your imagination.
I happened to have some ground bison patties (you could use hamburger)
and I had some leftover rice.  Add some cheeses and you have a stuffing.

I browned the meat in a skillet with a little butter,
and then seasoned with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and a shake or two of cumin and oregano.
I had cooked rice, so I added that to the bison meat.

Start filling the peppers with the meat and rice and cheese.
I used shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
Beans would be totally acceptable in here too.

Do not overfill the peppers.
Don't want them to split.

 Stuff peppers, close, and secure with toothpicks.

Now, we're ready to batter and fry the stuffed peppers.

I have a large heavy pot that I use for deep frying - 9 inch diameter and about 6 inches deep.
Pour 3 inches of peanut oil in the pot and start heating to somewhere between 350° and 375°.

For the batter:
Separate 3 large eggs.
I whupped the whites with a little salt until stiff peaks formed.
Then I beat in the yolks...

... and a tablespoon of flour.
Batter is ready.

Sprinkle each chile with flour and roll it in flour.
Cover chiles evenly with flour, shaking off the excess.
This gives the batter something to cling to.

One by one, dip the chiles in the egg white batter.
Cover completely.

Carefully place battered chiles, one at a time, in the hot oil.
Fry 3-4 minutes on each side.  Until rich golden brown.
While one chile is frying...
...start battering the next...

Keep the oil hot.

If your pot is big enough, go ahead and fry two at a time.
Just don't drastically lower the temperature.

Remove and let drain when golden.

Serve your chile rellenos on a bed of the red sauce with fresh salsa on top.

Fresh cilantro from my garden gives it a nice touch.

It's perfect.


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