They ain’t pretty but- I guarantee- your life will be drastically improved by Hatch green chile rellenos in all imaginable ways.
Chile rellenos (literally: stuffed chiles) are an American Southwest specialty strongly influenced by Mexican cuisine. In this recipe, Hatch or Pueblo green chiles are filled with cheese, battered and fried. Don’t let other bloggers lie to you: these are neither traditionally nor better made with poblanos. This is a Hatch green chile or bust kind of situation. You can find more information here.
This recipe begins with cutting open your chiles to create a pocket inside. The easiest way I have found to do this is to lay the chiles flat and cut into one of the sides, as shown below. Leave a quarter inch or so uncut on the top and bottom and be sure to only cut through one layer on one side so you end up with a perfect little cavity to put your cheese in.
Besides the chiles, the other piece that makes these rellenos top tier is the batter. The secret is two-fold:
- First, separate the eggs and really beat the whites until stiff. I mean, seriously beat the snot out of them. You want to be able to turn your mixing bowl upside down without dumping out your whites. The ONLY way to achieve this is to let your eggs come to room temperature. Eggs that are too cold will not form the peaks you’re looking for.
- Second, be extraordinarily careful folding your yellows back in. Every motion you make causes the egg whites to lose a little of their elevation. Use a wide spatula and make as few motions as possible to incorporate your eggs.
One more thing to note is that your work time is very quick- for the batter to retain its texture you need to move from making the batter to frying very quickly. No making the batter and then wandering off to do something else. The longer you wait, the more your batter will fall and lose its awesome texture.
If you succeed, you will be rewarded with the ultimate chile relleno batter- shatteringly crispy but which also magically melts in your mouth. These are not the crispy rellenos found around the front range in Colorado (more on that to come in a future post) but are the softer ones more strongly reminiscent of the New Mexican style.
Hatch chile rellenos are appropriate for all times of the day, but I’d like to give a special shout out to the wildly underrated breakfast chile rellenos. Have them with an egg (or don’t!) and you’ve got yourself a killer breakfast. More typically, they are served for dinner alongside beans and rice, sometimes with a little sour cream or red or green chile sauce. They are pictured here with red sauce and sour cream, but the world is your oyster- have them with whatever you like.
- 4 medium-large roasted hatch green chiles (about 6-10 inches)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 6-8 oz block Mexican-style cheese of choice
- 1 tsp salt
- canola oil or other high-heat frying oil of choice
Rinse and peel the outer charred layer of your Hatch green chiles under running water. Pat dry.
On a plate or in a large bowl, combine flour, garlic powder, and cumin.
Separate your eggs, reserving the yellows and putting the whites in a medium mixing bowl. Add the baking powder and beat with an electric mixer until they form extremely stiff peaks. A good rule of thumb is that you want your whites to remain in the bowl if you were to flip it over. If you're in doubt, keep beating!
Stir together the egg yellows and salt. Use a wide spatula to fold the yellows into the whites as gently as possible. Make as few moves as possible- every move you make will cause you to lose a little of the texture of your batter.
Cut your block of cheese into 6-8 equal sized pieces.
Lay your green chiles flat on a cutting board. As shown in the picture above, cut a slit in the side of each chile, leaving a quarter inch or so intact on the top and bottom. Make sure you only cut through 1 layer; you only want to open a pocket to place the cheese in.
Stuff the cheese into the open pockets of your chiles. You will probably use 2-3 pieces of cheese per chile. Close the pocket of the chiles over the cheese. You can toothpick the sides of the chiles together if necessary.
Heat an inch or so of canola oil (or frying oil of choice) in a frying pan until shimmering but not smoking.
Dredge each side of the chiles in the flour mixture and then dip into the egg mixture. You may have to use your hands to coat the chile entirely.
Fry your chiles, two at a time, in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes per side. Don't over crowd your pan by frying all of them at once!
Serve two chile rellenos per person, with sour cream, green onions, chile sauce, eggs, or other garnish of choice.
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