Monday, 19 September 2011

Baked Chiles Rellenos

I was very excited to go into my local grocery and find Ontario-grown ancho and Anaheim chiles for sale! Until recently, they have been practically unheard of here. However, the influx of Mexican Mennonites returning to Canada in the last few years has made available much more in the way of Mexican food and ingredients than used to be the case. Snatch them up if you can find them!

Anaheim chiles are long, straight and fairly narrow, in a light mid-green. They are quite mild. Poblanos are a very dark green, wider, and shorter, but they will hold more filling. Poblanos are more of a gamble, in terms of heat: they may be quite mild, or they may have a real bite, although most will be more in the middle. Either way, they have a rich and unique flavour.

North Americans tend to think of chiles rellenos (stuffed chiles) as containing cheese. That is certainly one traditional filling, and one I really love. However, Mexicans fill chiles with all kinds of things. Meat and rice, other vegetables, fish - there are lots of possibilities.

When planning to serve the chiles, keep in mind that most people will probably eat two if they are the main portion of the meal. They are generally served with rice.

When I have wanted to make them a little less rich, I have cut the filling with other ingredients such as lightly cooked fresh corn kernels, or cooked quinoa or cous-cous. A little minced fresh parsley, if you have it, is a good addition.

I hate to say this is a simplified version of Chiles Rellenos (because they are baked rather than fried) because they are still very time-consuming, and the roasting of the vegetables definitely requires some patience!

4 to 6 stuffed chiles
Allow 1 hour to roast chiles, and do it 1 hour in advance, at least
Then, 20 minutes prep time plus 1 hour cook time

Baked Chiles Rellenos
Prepare the Vegetables
6 Anaheim or 4 poblano chiles
4 medium tomatoes

Wash the chiles and tomatoes. Roast them over a stove element. This is best with a gas stove, but it can be done on an electric stove too. Alternatively, they can be roasted under the broiler. In either case, watch them carefully and turn them every 5 minutes or so in order to get them done everywhere. The skins should get quite charred all over. Once they are done, put them in a container that has a cover, cover them and leave them to cool. This may not take as much as an hour, but it is slower than you would expect so allow yourself lots of time.

When you are ready to proceed, peel off the skins. They should come right off fairly easily, and can be helped along by holding the chiles under cold running water as you peel. The peeled chiles should be softened, but not enough to be particularly fragile. You may wish to simply blanch the tomatoes, rathe than charring them, but the charring will add a little depth to the flavour.

Cut the cores from the tomatoes, and chop them roughly. Put them in a pot with any juices they have accrued and bring them to a boil. Boil until they are quite soft - 5 minutes should be sufficient - then purée them. This is the sauce to be served hot with the finished chiles. It is supposed to be rather thin.

Cut the cores from the chiles, removing the seeds and any tough inner membranes. Rinse them in cold water and drain well.

Make the Filling:
100 grams (1/4 pound) old Cheddar cheese
300 grams (3/4 pound) ricotta, chevre or other soft, mild cheese
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano

Grate the Cheddar, and blend it with the ricotta and the oregano.

Divide the cheese into equal portions, one portion for each chile. Stuff the cheese into the chiles. using the broad end of a chopstick or a wooden spoon handle to poke it in all the way to the ends.

Make the Batter:
6 tablespoons soft whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
a bit more flour

Lightly oil a baking pan that will hold the chiles fairly snugly. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and give them a stir. Break in the eggs and add the oil, and mix until well blended.

Dust each chile in a little flour, then dip them in the batter. Lay them in the prepared pan. Scrape any extra batter over the top of them once they are all in.

Bake the chiles for about 1 hour, until the batter is fairly brown and the cheese is bubbly. Heat the tomato sauce through, and pass it with the chiles.

Last year at this time I canned Tomatillo Salsa and cooked Edamame. I have just dealt with both of the same things for this year as well. I've added a photo for the salsa, which I didn't have last year.

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