What’s a New Mexico Girl to do, when she comes across someone fire roasting green chiles at a Farmer’s Market in Maine? Buy a $30 bag and make stuff of course! Despite the 80 degree, muggy weather, I’ve decided my first dish of the chile roasting season, and the first recipe on this blog will be chile rellenos. A dish that so perfectly summarizes my relationship with food and cooking. Spicy, cheesy, bad for me if not consumed in moderation, and delicious. This will not be a recipe where I try to cut out the calories or the fat. But, this is not a recipe you make very often. If for no other reason, because it is a bit of a pain (you’ll see)!
Bonus: it pairs well with a cold beverage (tonight it was Negra Modelo, but a margarita is a nice option as well!).
A little back story – I originally met Daniel, the owner of Freedom Farm last year – I could smell his green chiles roasting from across the park at the Farmer’s Market. Me being from the chile mecca of the world, we talked chiles. Specifically, that his chiles are as close as you can get in Maine to the Big Jim Chile that Hatch is famous for. I perfected several green chile recipes last summer, and over the winter (I froze about 10 pounds of them – can you tell I love chiles?). Saturday was the first day he was back roasting chiles and I was there at 7 AM.
This is what 5 pounds of fire roasted green chiles looks like:
I wanted to get these chile rellenos as close to Farm to Table as possible – and so in addition to the chiles, I purchased some onion, lettuce, tomato and garlic. I pulled some chorizo out of my freezer that was raised, slaughtered and processed by a friend. The cheese…well, I bought that from Hannaford, because cheese at the Farmer’s Market to be used in this quantity is prohibitively expensive.
Can you make fresh green chile sauce? Why, yes! You can. I cannot. Well, I can, but it isn’t going to taste any better than this, so I won’t. I buy mine at Whole Foods.
Other than that, you just need some corn meal, flour, baking powder, milk, eggs, salt, pepper. OK, so without further delay –
Chorizo and Cheese Chile Rellenos
*this recipe will feed a small army and give you leftovers, but is pretty easy to cut in half, or even quarter.
Batter for rellenos (courtesy of CrumblyCookie):
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 cups cornmeal
- 2 cups milk
- 4 eggs
Mixture for rellenos:
- 3.5 cups shredded mexican cheese blend
- 1 pound chorizo
- 1 medium sized sweet onion
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- oil to cook onions/garlic in
- salt/pepper to taste
And of course the star ingredient:
- 4.5 pounds of fire roasted green chiles. Do you not have a convenient source of fire roasted green chiles? Damn…two options. First the lazy way that I do not recommend, is to get canned whole green chiles (Hatch Green Chiles are preferable, and getting easier to find). Second, which I do recommend, is to get green chiles and roast them yourself. This video is great for a number of reasons – it tells you to de-seed and de-vein the chiles before roasting – a GREAT tip, and also, it is clearly filmed in Las Cruces/Dona Ana county. So, you know it is legit.
- Also, you will need about a quart of canola, vegetable, etc. oil.
- Go on a run! Seriously, you will feel much better for it after you’ve enjoyed these! (A joke, sort of).
Okay, real first step:
- Dice the onion and garlic and saute them until golden. Add chorizo. Cook for about 8-10 minutes on medium, until cooked. Put this mixture on several sheets of paper towels and put in the fridge. The sheets of paper towels are going to soak up a lot of grease, which you will appreciate not having in your rellenos.
- NOTE: At NO POINT DO YOU WANT TO CHOP THE TOPS OFF THE CHILE. LEAVE THE STEMS ON!!! Get your roasted chiles and peel the skin off. If you roasted your chiles yourself and you were smart, and you de-seeded and de-veined them ahead of time, congratulate yourself and move on to the next step. If you have purchased roasted chiles, then read on. Your goal is to get as much as the vein out as possible without destroying the chile. Cut an incision into the chile about 1/2 way the length of the chile, from the top. It will grow larger, but that is ok. Run your knife underneath the vein as far down the chile as you can get, from bottom to the top. When you get to the top, grab the 2 vein strings and the pod of seeds, and twist and pull. This is going to take the lion’s share of the seeds and vein. Now, “just” rinse the chile, inside and out, and put aside! That’s it! Now, do that to all 25 or so chiles you have!!
The chile on the left has been cleaned and is ready to be de-seeded and de-veined:
Start low on the chile and work towards the stem, with you knife just below the vein (this is what packs all the heat in the chile).
(When you get to this part, is when you pinch the strings from veins and the seeds, and twist.) Your first few times, you are will likely destroy the chile, this is ok, put the chiles aside for future use, or chop them up and make batter balls with cheese.
- Make the batter. Mix the dry ingredients first, then the wet ingredients, then mix them together. Use a bowl that is more flat then deep, you will appreciate the extra maneuvering room.
Time to stuff!
- In a large bowl, mix together the cheese and the chorizo mixture. I find it easiest at this point to stuff all the chiles at once, but you could also stuff chiles while a batch is frying, totally up to you. Don’t over stuff them, you want to make sure you can fold the chile over the mixture pretty easily, it makes it prettier and easier to manage them in the fryer.
And now, batter and fry:
- Get your oil hot at about medium, you don’t need much hotter, and you will avoid painful splatters.
- Put a chile in the batter, and spoon the batter over the chiles. Hold the chile by the stem and let the excess drip off. This is a nice thick batter that is going to stick to the chile without any dredging, and as long as you don’t shake the chile too vigorously, and didn’t overstuff it, the stuffing is going to stay in at this point. Now, drop it in your hot oil. Depending on your vessel for frying, put in as many as you can, but you don’t want them touching. I used a le crueset dutch oven, it does a great job regulating the heat, and for that reason, I would definitely choose anything ceramic or cast iron. Wait for the perfect golden hue that is synonymous with perfectly fried food.
- Remove from oil! Put on a paper towel. Store in microwave (which does a great job keeping things warm, even when off) or in the oven, on super, super low heat.
A perfect chile:
- And, repeat.
When all your chiles are cooked, put on a baking sheet, pour some green chile sauce (warm it up first) on them, sprinkle some cheese on top and broil them for about 5 minutes on low.
I served mine with rice and beans and a salad (from the farmers market). And sorry, this is when the beautiful photos from my Portland, ME Photographer friend stopped.