For those of us who love our chile rellenos, but cannot handle actually making them (gringos), I’ve concocted my own recipe. In my version, I put this together with the intent of staying as true to the original dish as possible. Of course, since we’re talking about a casserole here, there are elements that would feel more at home in a Yorkshire pudding than your favorite Mexican restaurant, but I think this captures the spirit. Do not be discouraged by the detailed instructions! That’s mostly the chile handling and preparation.
I’ve also thrown in a newly discovered favorite of mine, green rice. This is a variation on the more common red Mexican rice that for some reason I’ve just really taken to.
Will feed about 4 people with lunch leftovers!
Chile Rellenos Casserole
9 Poblano, Anaheim or pasilla chiles
10 oz. casera cheese (queso fresco)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup flour
½ cup milk
- Char your chiles on a comal, or in a cast iron frying pan or over an open flame. Do not be afraid to toast these suckers good. What you are doing here is giving the chile flavor and making it possible for you to skin the chile with ease. When they are burnt to your liking, put them in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let them sit for at least 30 minutes.
- During this rest time, grate the cheddar cheese and make the batter for pouring over the peppers. Get your favorite 9 x 13″ pan and spray it with oil or grease it down, then turn on the oven to 350F.
- Now that the chiles have sat, they should be ready for prepping. Important: If you are not accustomed to handling peppers, BE CAREFUL. I’ve handled peppers all my adult life and by and large, they don’t bother me, but they may bother you. To be on the safe side, get yourself some medical gloves or rubber gloves or whatever and make sure you DO NOT rub your eyes with the gloves still on! It hurts!!! I know, this may seem a bit basic for some, but having to flush your eyes with water and possibly damaging your cornea is not worth it. Granted, these are mild peppers, but you’ll notice as you’re seeding and skinning, you’ll need to sneeze, or you’ll feel it in the back of your throat, so there is some heat there.
- The chiles will be limp and require no special paring tools, especially if you’ve given them a good char. Because they can be fragile, carefully remove the skin – I like doing it over a clean sink under some cool, running water. They can be very slippery! – with your hands, and then, if you need to, make a slit in the pepper using your finger and remove the seeds and any fascia. This is when you’re going to notice the burn, if any.
- Now comes the easy part. Bring out your casera cheese and cut into sticks to fit in your chile. That’s why I didn’t have you do it earlier. Each chile will be different, and you want it to wrap around and completely cover the cheese. This may not be 100% possible, as there will most likely be some tearing in the earlier cleaning process, but do what you can. They’ll be covered up anyway! Arrange them in the baking dish and cover with the batter. Top with the cheese and put them in the oven for 30 minutes.
For an extra kick, I like using El Pato Mexican tomato sauce. I didn’t have any at the time, or the pictures would have looked different! Also, just to let you know, the casera cheese will not be melty – it’s fresh, so it won’t melt. But there, I was being true to the spirit. If you must have melty cheese, use a decent Monterey Jack.
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tsps. salt
2 cups medium grain rice, if possible
½ bunch of fresh cilantro
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ of a medium onion, peeled and wedged
- In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, water and salt to a boil. Stir in the rice, and wait for the water to boil again. Reduce the heat to low, stir one more time, and cover and let cook for 15 minutes.
- Toss your cilantro, garlic and onion into a food processor and puree to your heart’s desire. I actually pureed some more after taking the picture because I noticed a little chunk of onion.
- After the 15 minutes is up, remove the rice from the heat and let set for another 10 minutes – do not lift the lid!
- When the rice has set, you may remove the lid! Fluff the rice, and put in your puree at that time. I used maybe 1/4 cup. You may want more or less – it’s up to you.