Aug 15
Chili Rellenos – A Vegetarian Dinner
posted by: dawn in Comfort Food, Mexican on 08 15th, 2010 | |

I adore Chili Rellenos.  I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, I grew up in California.  There was fantastic Mexican food available in almost all my neighbors homes and certainly countless family run restaurants.  I vividly remember my first encounter with chili rellenos.  I was playing at a friends house, her mother invited me to stay for dinner.  This was a coveted invitation because her mother made everything from scratch unlike my house where there were lots of packets and an endless supply of hamburger helper.

I watched my friend’s mom split and stuff the chilies, batter and fry them.  She put them on a bed of home-made cooked salsa.  One bite and I was hooked.  The crispy outside, the soft chili and oozing cheese with just the right amount of heat in the background!!!  Heavenly day!.  My friend moved away shortly afterward and I’ve been chasing that food memory for years.  Restaurant chili rellenos never lived up to hers.

I’m a pretty accomplished home cook.  I will take on any recipe I set my mind to, but occasionally I get it in my head that I’m not going to be able to make a recipe and I shy away from it.  Hollandaise sauce was my first nemesis, I thought about it and put if off for a year — then of course I made it and it was hard but it worked.  Chili rellanos are the same.  I was convinced they’d split in the pan and cheese would go everywhere, my batter wouldn’t be crispy enough, blah blah blah.  Then one day I saw beautiful Anaheim chilies (a.k.a. New Mexico chilies) and Oaxaca cheese (a rare find in these parts).  So I decided to grab the bull by the horns and I’m so glad I did.  It was a little time consuming to do everything from scratch (90 minutes or so)  however the dinner turned out magnificent!  I dare say I lived up to my food memory, which shows me that patience and fresh, quality ingredients are CRITICAL to success.

I also made corn tortillas, but I need some more practice before I start trying to teach that skill, mine turned out chewy and really strong tasting.  I was not impressed though they looked pretty.

Chili Rellenos Recipe

6 Anaheim Chilies
8 – 10 oz grated oaxaca cheese (mozzarella or Monterrey jack would also work well)
flour for dredging
3 egg whites
1 whole egg
oil for frying
sour cream for garnish

Roast chili’s under a broiler or over an open flame until skin blisters and blackens.  Put them in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  When the chilies have cooled enough to handle remove the outside skin (it will just slide off).  Using a paring knife, cut a slit into the side of each chili lengthwise and remove and discard the seeds.  Gently stuff each chili with cheese, use toothpicks to secure the cheese inside the chili.  Dredge in flour and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Whip egg whites to soft peaks, add whole egg and whip to stiff peaks.  This will be the batter for the chilies.

Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet to 350 degrees.  Dip chili in batter and fry until golden (about 2 – 3 minutes per side)  Remove toothpicks and serve over Salsa Rojo, garnish with sour cream and fresh salsa if desired.

Salsa Rojo Recipe

4 dried ancho chilies
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 white onion diced
4 Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
2 jalapeno chilies
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp oregano
1/2 bunch cilantro

Remove seeds and stems from ancho chilies.  Soak in warm chicken broth to soften.  Meanwhile saute onions, garlic, tomatoes and jalapeno until golden.  Add ancho chilies and chicken broth and cilantro.  Bring to a simmer.  Use food processor or blender to puree sauce, return to pan and reduce to desired consistency.

This meal was highly enjoyed and paired very well with an Avery IPA!  (then again, I think everything pairs nicely with an IPA!).  It was so flavorful and filling we didn’t realize that we had eaten a vegetarian dinner until later that night.


P.S.  the green sauce on the outside of my plate is the Salsa I wrote about in my Chicken Tortilla Soup post

4 Responses to “Chili Rellenos – A Vegetarian Dinner”

  1. Looks yummy, and I’d like to attempt the recipe, but there is a step missing! What do you do with the egg whites and the 1 whole egg?


  2. Thanks for pointing that out — I’ll edit the post. The egg whites and egg make the batter that you dip the chilies in.

  3. Tried Chili Rellenos in Austin, Texas earlier this year and has my FIRST mind-blowing food experience…EVER. I still think about it, and I don’t even consider myself a “foodie”. Every Friday night, me and a friend of mine cook for about 15 college students/faculty from our church. Each night has a theme (1950s Americana, Italian, Green Day, BBQ, etc.) Now we are doing true Mexican night. So I found your recipe this morning. I am intimidated by the thought of doing this, but I said I would make it. So… here it goes. Wish me luck!! Btw, never heard of dipping anything into whipped egg whites. That confused me a little, but also helped peaked my interest.

  4. Laura – I love the theme nights! I had a group that used to do that. These were surprisingly easy. Did it work for you?

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