Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chiles Rellenos with Tomato Sauce

I have a slight serious addiction with Mexican food.  I don't know what it is about this food that is so enticing to me but it definitely has a special place in my heart.  What is it about endless freshly cooked chips, spicy (and super cold) salsa and that white cheese dip, how I love them all.  ( I think I could make a meal out of the chips and dips alone!)  Let's not even get me started on the endless entree options, so full of flavor, I just love it.  I honestly think I could eat it all day everyday and never get sick of it.
Since I have a fascination with Mexican food, I have a plethora of Mexican recipes bookmarked and saved just waiting for me to make.  These chile rellenos made it to the top of the list recently and I just couldn't wait to try them.  Although both Spencer and I love chile rellenos but we very rarely, if ever, order them when we're out.  I'm honestly not sure why these take a back seat when we're out; maybe we're creatures of habit and order the same thing everytime we go out.  Maybe it's the fact that there are so many options that sound amazing that these simple stuffed peppers get pushed to the wayside for something more "exciting".  I'm not sure what it is but they always get pushed to the bottom of the list.
Well, it's finally their time to shine.  They moved to the top of the list and the head of the menu a few weeks ago.  And boy, am I ever glad I saw this recipe and decided to make it!  These chile rellenos have a lot going for them; veggie power with the peppers and corn, dairy and ooey gooey cheesy goodnedss, then an egg coating that results in a light and flaky outer shell once pan fried.  These pan fried peppers are full of flavor and then layed on top of a bed of tomato sauce that is packed with even more flavor and veggie power.  The tomato sauce is packed full of flavor; brightness is added with the addition of cilantro, lime juice, a touch vinegar, then a kick of heat is added with the addition of cayenne pepper and an underlying smokiness from the cumin.  The combination of the crispy fried pepper and the bright and flavorful tomato sauce is a match made in heaven.  Your taste buds will be awakened with the first bite and they will be forever thankful!  This is a delicious meal, that was fairly simple yet impressive.  I know it's made an impression on us and will be making a regular appearance on our menu!      

Chiles Rellenos with Tomato Sauce

For the Tomato Sauce-

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 Tsp cumin
1/4 Tsp cayenne pepper
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Cup chicken stock
1/2 Cup grape tomatoes
2 1/2 Tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Tsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tsp lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the peppers-
4 Large poblano peppers
4 Egg whites
2 Egg yolks
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Cups shredded jalapeno jack cheese
1/2 Cup corn
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste


For the tomato sauce-
Add oil to a medium saute pan and place over medium heat.  Once the pan has preheated, add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Once onions have softened add the cumin, cayenne pepper and minced garlic and cook until fragarent, about 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock along with the tomatoes, stir to combine, reduce heat to low-medium.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow cool slightly.  Carefully transfer the mixture to food processor or blender and mix for approximately 10 seconds.  *The mixture will not be smooth.  Add the cilantro, vinegar, and salt and pepper and pulse just to combine.  Set aside.

For the peppers-
Turn broiler on high.  Line a baking sheet with foil.

Place peppers on prepared baking sheet and place under broiler.  Cook peppers until skin is bubbled and blistered, about 1 to 2 minutes per side.  Remove peppers from oven and transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow peppers to cool, at least 10 minutes.  Once the peppers are cool enough to touch remove and discard the skins. 

Meanwhile, place egg whites in a medium bowl and beat on high until stiff peaks are formed.  Place egg yolks in a small bowl along with 1 tablespoon flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir to combine.  Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, once combined fold the remaining egg whites into the mixture until combined.  Place the remaining flour on a plate or in a shallow dish, season with salt and pepper.  In a small bowl combine the cheese and corn and stir to combine.

To remove the seeds from the skinned peppers, gently slice them open along one side.  Slice about two-thirds the lenght of the pepper, do not slice the pepper completely in half, just enough to remove the seeds (using a small spoon).  Stuff each pepper with the cheese and corn mixture.  Squeeze each pepper gently after filling, so it stays together.

Pour oil in a large saucepan, filling about 1 1/2 inches deep.  Place pan over medium-high heat to allow oil to heat.  Meanwhile, gently roll the peppers in the flour mixture to coat.  Gently place the peppers, one at a time, in the egg white mixture and turn to coat.  Use a spoon to gently spoon the batter over the pepper to ensure even coating.  Carefully lift the pepper and spoon off any excess batter hanging from the bottom.  Gently place in the hot oil and fry until golden brown in color, about 3 minutes per side.  Place cooked peppers on a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.  Serve hot topped with chile relleno tomato sauce. 

The tomato sauce can be made in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  When ready to serve, place in a small sauce pan over low heat to warm. 

Do not overcook the peppers.  Cook just long enough to blister the skins the remove from the broiler immediately.

Do not overfil the peppers or they will not seal.  

If peppers are too soft after stuffing, place on a plate or cookie sheet and put in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  This will allow the peppers to cool off as well as slighty harden, and they will be easier to coat and fry. 

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Melissa D'Arabian via Food Network

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