Chiles Rellenos is one of my wife’s favorite Mexican dishes. One of the best versions I’ve tasted was years ago just after we were married on a trip across country looking for the perfect place to live. We took the southern route that brought us through the small town of Prescott, Arizona where we spent the night.
We asked around for the best Mexican restaurant in town and someone told us about a place just down the street from the famous Palace Restaurant & Saloon. It was a hole in the wall and I can’t remember the decor, but I think it had florescent lighting. It could have been La Cocina De Durango but I’m pretty sure it was El Charro Restaurant and they served some of the best authentic Mexican food I can remember. And their Chiles Rellenos were spectacular.
What are Chilies Rellenos?
Chiles Rellenos translates to “stuffed chiles” that have been dipped in an egg batter and then deep fried. That’s a fairly broad category, as stuffing can be made of almost anything, from meat to cheese to seafood. Chiles rellenos is a Mexican dish from the city of Puebla. Traditionally, the pepper of choice for stuffing is the Poblano pepper, which means “from Pueblo.”
With the vast variety of peppers available around the world, though, chiles rellenos can be made with any medium or large, fairly mild peppers, such as Anaheims or New Mexican Hatch green chiles. You can even use smaller peppers, if you like. In fact, most of us have enjoyed a mini version of chiles rellenos when enjoying appetizers at a sports bar: the ubiquitous jalapeno popper is a type of chile relleno.
This is a great dish to serve to a crowd, especially if you are entertaining both vegetarians and omnivores. Simply alter the filling to suit the folks who are eating, stuffing the peppers with veggies and/or cheese for the vegetarians and maybe going with a sweet-spicy picadillo filling for the meat eaters in the bunch. Since there are so many ways to make chiles rellenos, I’m giving you two filling and two sauce options, along with two batter options. That way, you can mix and match and discover your favorite way to enjoy them.
Fried Chiles Rellenos Recipe
- 8 large green chiles - 2 per person as entree
- 1/2 lb. cheese Cheddar, co-jack, or Jack cheese cut into 1/2" x 3" strips
- 3 quarts peanut oil for deep frying
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder or use self-rising flour
- 1/4 teaspoon soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk plus a little more for thinning if necessary
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- To Prepare the Chiles
- Before roasting, puncture with knife to prevent bursting!! Roast chiles individually over gas flame, on gas grill, under gas broiler, or in preheated 500F oven until charred and blistered all over.
- Place in a paper bag or in covered casserole for 10 minutes to steam. Carefully peel chiles.
- Make a slit in the stem end of each chile and remove seeds if desired. I do not remove seeds as I can't do it without tearing up the chile.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Beat egg slightly and combine with buttermilk.
- Add to flour mixture, stirring gently to mix. Do not worry if your batter is a little lumpy. It should be the consistency of pancake batter. If it seems a bit thick, thin with a little more buttermilk.
- Set batter aside at room temperature.
- Heat peanut oil in a large, heavy pot (cast iron or enameled cast iron work well here) and bring the oil to 350F.
- Mix the flour and salt for the dredge and place in a shallow pan.
- Insert a strip of cheese into each chile. Stuff carefully to avoid breaking.
- To coat chiles, dip stuffed chiles into the dredge and then into batter. Let excess drain back into the batter bowl and then carefully lower the chile into the hot oil.
- Fry until golden brown, turning once. Remove from fat and keep warm in a 200F oven until you have fried all the chiles.