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Darienne

Chiles Rellenos, Tex-Mex style

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Chile Rellenos.  Every Mexican or Mexican type restaurant we've ever been in almost, I've chosen Chile Rellenos.   I keep thinking I'll pick something different...and then I don't.  I've made them.  Once.  So much trouble.  And deep fat frying.  And of course in the Far Frozen North where we live, we've been able to get Poblanos (that's it) for only about five years now.  

 

Imagine my delight, the appeal to my very lazy side, to discover the following recipe just a few days ago: https://www.homesicktexan.com/2018/09/chile-relleno-casserole-el-paso-style.html  .  And yesterday I made them and served them to guests with Mexican rice and black beans.  Died and gone to heaven.

 

OK.  Truth time.  I used Poblanos and  I did not roast them to remove the skins.  In an electric oven, it's not a nice job.  And besides the skins have never bothered me or Ed at all.  But I did roast the Poblanos in the oven.  And then I used commercial salsa because we had one we liked.  (Did I say that I can be lazy sometimes?)  And I used Pepper Jack cheese.  Jack cheese is not always available in the small Ontario city we live outside of and pepper jack is even less common.  Buy it when you see it.  I defrosted some frozen guacamole I had in the freezer.  But by heavens the casserole was delicious and now it's on our menu permanently.

 

So shoot me.  But I thought I'd share my joy anyway. 


Edited by Smithy Adjusted title spelling (log)
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There's a version of chiles rellenos casserole that my stepmom made when I was a kid that was cheesy and eggy. I was probably in my late teens before I knew there was anything else that was chiles rellenos. On the rare occasions we ate in a Mexican (or any other, for that matter) restaurant, I'd see it on menus and just assume it was the same thing we got at home. Never ordered it. I don't really know how it was made but it was different that the one you linked. For one thing, it didn't contain any form of tomato. I don't even really remember if I actually liked it or not. We were a fairly large family with not lots of money so I ate what was put in front of me whether I loved it or not. :D

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Good points.  Chile Rellenos don't contain tomato.  This recipe does.  That's OK with me.  

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I also like stuffed chilis with Anaheims or Hatch, but they are hard to find in this area. Hatch are seasonal, but findable during the season, and Anaheims used to readily available at Food Lion, but not in several years. I just don't like the flavor of Poblanos. They do afford more stuffing capacity per single pepper, but that still can't make me like them. Don't confuse Cubano peppers with Anaheim, as I have done before. If you are looking for that flavor profile and get Cubanos instead, you will be disappointed.

 

If and when I find my target peppers, I stuff them with ground beef mixed with sauteed onion and a little garlic. Bake at high temp and cover with cheese in the last few minutes of baking, after reducing temp so as not to toughen the cheese.  I took this technique from a favorite Mexican restaurant whose quality has severely fallen in recent years, so I haven't visited. They always used Anaheims, but I've made this dish with Hatches and that rocks too.

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10 hours ago, Darienne said:

Good points.  Chile Rellenos don't contain tomato.  This recipe does.  That's OK with me.  


Actually, I think I was more reminiscing than making any points. I was just tossing another shortcut alternative into the mix in case it sounded interesting to you. Of course, I realized after posting that I have no idea what the recipe is for the casserole she made. I think it came on the can the roasted green chiles came in but I'm not sure of that. But I'm definitely not knowledgeable enough on the chile relleno to make any valid points. :D 

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Thanks for this Darienne.  I'm a native Texan but I don't recall that I've ever encountered a Chile Rellenno casserole before.  I'll have to look through some old community and church cookbooks and the like and see if there are any that I just missed. 

 

I've never liked Chile Rellenos.  My mother loved them and would always order them and it was one of the few Mexican dishes she made at home.  I thought they were always way too greasy and soggy. hers and the restaurant versions  Maybe I just never had a good one but I gave up long ago.

 

Funny that Lisa Fain makes a sidewise comment on the use of bell peppers.  Really Lisa?  Oh wait, she's a lot younger than me I'm sure and I think she grew up in Houston?, or maybe it was Austin?  I grew up in a small town.  There were no poblanos available so everybody, including the restaurants, made Chile Rellenos with bell peppers.  I was in grad school at UT, ca 1968, when I went with a Hispanic friend who was a student at St. Edwards in south Austin to a little Mexican restaurant on South Congress.  He ordered the Chile Rellenos, which was his favorite dish, and offered me a bite when I told him I couldn't stand the dish.  It was my first encounter with a poblano and I had no idea what I was eating.


Edited by brucesw (log)
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Hi all,

 

Tri@Cook: Good points is simply an expression we use in our family for  well, good points.  And they were.

 

TFTC:  I love Anaheims and Hatch peppers.  Never, ever seen either in Ontario.  They might have them in Toronto in Kensington market?  I have no idea.  I don't know the Hispanic population in Ontario.  Certainly few live where I live.  An very unmixed Caucasian area, with a very heavy senior population.  And we love Poblanos, but we were talking about them this morning and realized that we couldn't serve this dish to most of our guests.  If you don't like the taste of Poblanos, you won't want to eat this casserole.

 

BruceW:  Right.  You just ate horrible Chile Rellenos.  They are neither greasy nor soggy if made properly.    Are you sure your friend ate a Poblano?  Traditionally Chile Rellenos are made with Anaheim or Hatch peppers.  I use Poblanos because that's the only pepper of that sort that I can buy and it's only been for a very few years now.  As for stuffed Bell peppers?  Yuck. 

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oddly Save-on-Foods often has fresh pablanos and Anaheim on their shelves here in little old Penticton!  Amazing considering the WASPY -senior demographic.

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12 hours ago, Okanagancook said:

oddly Save-on-Foods often has fresh pablanos and Anaheim on their shelves here in little old Penticton!  Amazing considering the WASPY -senior demographic.

OTOH, I have always thought of BC as being much more adventurous than Ontario.  My area of Ontario, except for the foreign students at the colleges and universities, is fairly staid.   Less so now, of course, but still pretty Caucasian for the most part.

Whereas Toronto, where perhaps Kensington market might carry Anaheims, is incredibly multicultural now.  I lived in Toronto as a little child and our family, although neither Roman Catholic or actually French, were severely discriminated against on our street because of a French last name.  My Mother used to say they rolled up the streets at sundown every day.   

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I lived in NM for many years, and really good chiles relines are not as common as you would hope. They are really an art. If made correctly, they necessitate a chile pepper that is relatively thick and won't shred as soon as it is roasted. When I lived there, real Hatch chiles meant they were grown around Hatch NM, and they were routinely very hot. Easier to stuff without destroying than some other long chiles, but still a real skill. They need to be roasted hot and quick, so the skin will peel off but the chiles still retain integrity.  Poblanos, often available in areas where other hot chiles are not, can be used successfully as they are rather thick and have structure, although you do need to pick out the flat ones, and avoid the curly twisty individuals.

 

The second skill is the deep fry. You need to mix up a light batter, not coat the chiles too heavily, and deep fry so that the cheese gets melty and the batter gets crispy but the chile doesn't break down. I learned to make a good chile verde and a good chile rojo, good enchiladas and posole, but I never mastered chile rellenos. In my defense, I didn't try very hard.

 

I've never made or heard of a chile relines casserole. I'm a fan of Lisa Fain, although never having lived in Texas I have no benchmarks for Tex Mex cooking. Her casserole skirts the hardest parts of making chiles rellenos: the recipe doesn't rely on chiles with a good structure and is forgiving of the roasted chiles. In addition there is no deep frying, which can be a delicate operation, and instead relies on a batter like crusty top on the casserole. 

 

Memory leads me to believe that the dish we ate in NM did not typically have any tomato sauce on it, the deep fried chiles were always discreet on the plate.  But after all we're not talking about NM, we're talking Texas here, so who is to say what's authentic?  Although I never ran into a chiles rellenos casserole, there were plenty of NM breakfasts that layered all kinds of egg/tortilla/cheese'/chile.corn in baked dishes, most of them not exactly traditional but if the cook had talent, they could be a heartwarming satisfying mash-up.

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Darienne - the restaurant meal I alluded to was 50 years ago. Of course it's possible I'm remembering wrong.  Perhaps I should just say it was the first time I experienced a Chile Relleno made with something other than a bell pepper.

 

The Wiki entry identifies the dish as originating in Puebla, Mexico, which is no where near the Texas-Mexico border or San Antonio, where Tex-Mex originated, and says that there it is typically made with a poblano pepper, which is named for Puebla.  But others are used.  Everywhere.

 

Yes it's possible I've never tried one that was well prepared; but it's also possible I have had a well-prepared one and I still thought it was too greasy.  Different taste buds.

 

Chile Rellenos are not going on my bucket list.  That may have been the last time I ever tasted one.  But I am interested in trying this casserole - thanks again for posting it.

 

I have found only one other, in a church cookbook from a church in a suburb of Dallas, published in 1968, labeled 'Baked Chili Rellenos - A Spicy Souffle-Like Dish' (sic).  The ingredients list is similar but shorter; it calls for 8-10 long (5-6") green chiles - clearly that's not poblanos, nor bell peppers.  The recipe does not include any tomatoes.  If anyone wants the recipe I'll summarize it.

 

Then there is this from Robb Walsh's Tex-Mex Cookbook for Dario's Chile Rellenos (p. 126 for those of you following along):

 

"Old-fashioned chile rellenos may be the pride of Mexican cuisine, but the whipped egg-white batter is tedious to make, and when fried has an unappetizing color.  The spongy batter also tends to absorb too much grease.  This easy way to make Chile Rellenos was invented by Dario's, a Tex-Mex joint on Austin's East Side.  Instead of a batter of beaten egg whites, they wrap the chile in a thin omelet.  Dario's uses wild Anaheim chiles, but getting the skins off the thin chiles while keeping them intact requires deep-frying.  I've substituted poblanos, which are a little hotter but much easier to work with."

 

The East Austin location of Dario's is closed but the location in South Austin has the dish on the menu as Don's Austin's Tex-Mex Chile Rellenos.  The Yelp gallery for the joint has one picture, posted by a Yelper who wanted to complain about the presence of the pecans and raisins 😄.  I have to say it doesn't look very good to me, but if you want to look. To each his own.

 

 

 

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An interesting post, brucesw.   I have a friend, actually an eGer from way back, who would know where the best Chile Rellenos in Huston are available. I could ask and get back to you if you like.  

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There used to be a place in Santa Fe, NM that made rellenos with the same batter they used for onion rings. I really enjoyed the crunchy exterior.

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4 hours ago, Lisa Shock said:

There used to be a place in Santa Fe, NM that made rellenos with the same batter they used for onion rings. I really enjoyed the crunchy exterior.

 

What kind of chili did they use, Lisa?

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16 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

 

What kind of chili did they use, Lisa?

 

Anaheim green chiles, I never saw any other sort in Santa Fe.

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8 hours ago, Lisa Shock said:

 

Anaheim green chiles, I never saw any other sort in Santa Fe.

 

Yep, that's the kind I like too. They have so much more really good flavor than a Poblano, although, at least here, the Poblanos are much easier to find. That makes me wish I could like Poblanos, but I sort of have an aversion to them, somewhat like rotuts' and Kim Shooks' aversion to bell peppers. There is just no way I can like a Poblano. I do like and eat green bells. Lots of people don't realize they pack more Vitamin C than citrus, as do jalapenos, which I also love.

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I'm not that fond of the omelette style rellenos that I've had. I don't remember any of the details, but the first relleno I tried was at the Club Cafe on Route 66 in Santa Rosa NM, on a rather epic trip from Pennsylvania to Arizona. It is my gold standard, never to be matched and I likely would be sorely disappointed if I ever went back.

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Looking back, I should clarify for the future, I never saw rellenos in SF made from anything other than Anaheims. Of course, the supermarket and farmer's market had other types of peppers.

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