We have a little garden at home and this is our second season of attempting to grow some of our own food. Certain “crops” fared better than others, especially this summer when it was so hot. We ended up with quite a few poblano peppers and have been looking for recipes to use them. One of our favorite Tex-Mex places has a really good baked chicken chile relleno, so we decided to attempt to recreate it, using our very own homegrown peppers. We also thought it would be a good use of leftover chicken.
Last year we had a lot of success with jalepenos, so we planted some again this year, and decided to add another variety of peppers — poblanos. We planted them in the spring and they didn’t seem to do much other than grow tall and skinny (Dan is in the photo to show how tall they are). But late this summer, we noticed they were starting to bear fruit, and sure enough, we have a ton of poblanos. They are definitely smaller than what you find in the grocery store, but homegrown nonetheless! There is something very satisfying about cooking with ingredients that you grew yourself (see how happy Dan looks? “I’m King of the Garden!”)
First up, roast the peppers. Dan roasted ours on the grill, over high heat, turning often so that they roasted evenly.
After they are roasted, place the peppers in a bowl and seal it with plastic wrap (or you could put it in a tupperware container with a lid). This will allow the peppers to “sweat” a bit, which makes it easer to peel off the roasted skin. While the peppers are resting, start the sauce. The restaurant chile relleno that we were trying to replicate is not battered and fried like most chiles relleno. Seems like it is more healthy that way (although “healthy” is probably a relative term, given all the cheese involved). We found a recipe that similarly does not call for breading and frying the peppers.
Although this recipe uses a small onion thinly sliced, we didn’t have an onion on hand that night, so we used shallots instead. The shallots worked out fine. (Premier blog appearance of Dan’s new knife — fancy!)
Saute the onion/shallot in olive oil until soft.
Chop up a tomato.
Add the tomato to the onion/shallot and cook over medium/low heat until they reach a sauce-like consistency, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the sauce cooks, peel the peppers. Most of the skin should peel right off.
But you can also use the blunt/back edge of a knife to scrape off any bits that don’t easily peel off.
Slice off the tops, then slice each pepper open to flatten it out.
Set aside the flattened peppers.
Sauce is starting to look sauce-like. Just a few more minutes.
In the meantime, get the cheese ready. The recipe calls for “cotija” cheese, but we couldn’t find any at our grocery store. We found this “iberico” instead and it was pretty good. The recipe also says you could use feta as a substitute. Monterey jack cheese might work as well.
Slice the cheese into strips to place on the flattened peppers.
Dice up the leftover chicken into small pieces, and sprinkle the chicken with some salt and pepper.
Finish the sauce by stirring in 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin and about 2 tablespoons of sour cream. Remove the sauce from the heat.
These chiles relleno are actually rolled instead of stuffed. Place a piece of cheese in the middle of a flattened pepper.
Top with some chicken.
Ours were difficult to roll because the peppers were so small.
But Dan managed to sort of fold/roll them without losing too much of the chicken.
Then squeeze the sides together so it holds its shape.
Repeat with each flattened pepper and gently place them seam-side down in a glass baking dish.
Spoon the sauce over top of the peppers.
The recipe calls for crumbling the extra cheese on top. We had a different cheese leftover (queso fresco, I think) and put that on top instead. Next time, we probably will grate the cheese or crumble it into smaller pieces. Bake the chiles relleno in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly.
Our sauce got bubbly, but our cheese topping didn’t melt very well. Sad. Smaller crumbles would be better.
We served the chiles relleno with refried black beans (also topped with the sad non-melting cheese) and diced avacado. Good recipe, and great use of leftovers AND homegrown ingredients!