Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chile Rellenos

I used to make chile rellenos for Christmas Eve dinner, but gave up when my two boys, maybe 6 and 4, declared that they didn't like them and I got tired of supplementing the rellenos. I even added a sticky note to the recipe reminding me that the boys didn't like it. Imagine my surprise when my eldest son (admittedly, a few years older now, and off at college) started talking about how much he likes chile rellenos, and when the other kids chimed in appreciatively! With that pressure, I dusted off my recipe and made a batch tonight - and sure enough, they were all eaten enthusiastically.

There was one challenge to overcome first: I had carefully bought three cans of WHOLE green chilis, avoiding all the cans of chopped green chilis on the shelf. But when I opened the cans, they turned out to be full of chopped green chilis. I looked at the labels, thinking I might have made a mistake, but no, they were mislabeled. So my husband and son made a run into town, to a different store, to get more cans of whole green chilis. This was good, because even the larger cans they got didn't really hold enough chilis for all six of us; my son had done his best to figure out how many chilis each can held, but was fooled by the "Approximate servings per can: 5" - it turned out that each can held three large chilis.

Chile Rellenos
Find cans of WHOLE green chilis, two chilis per person (don't trust the label - get an extra can or two); remove any seeds, trying not to tear the chilis. Slice farmer cheese (or Monterey jack, or pepper jack, or something else that melts well), not too thinly; cut some of the slices diagonally to create two long, thin triangles. Stuff each chili with slices of cheese, using the triangles to get down into the points.

Put some flour on a small plate, and mix in a little salt and chili powder. For 4-6 people, beat 2 eggs (or 4 egg whites*, if you made hollandaise recently) and place on another plate.

Heat something to fry with in a skillet; the best is lard, if you have it, but shortening or oil will work. Make sure it is good and hot before moving on. Dip each chili carefully in the eggs, then in the flour to cover. Place the chili in the lard and fry on each side until just turning golden; if you cook it too long, the cheese will melt all over the pan and make a real mess. Serve and eat promptly.

Good with black beans, Mexican rice, or just chips and salsa.

*Egg whites freeze well, at least for this use. I freeze one egg white in each depression of a mini-muffin tin (or an ice tray), then bag them together.

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