Chile relleno is a Puebla Mexican dish. Essentially, it’s a giant popper: charred peppers stuffed with gooey cheese, dipped in fluffy egg meringue, and then deep fried. But this isn’t just an appetizer. It’s a meal that my husband, who has Mexican heritage, thinks of fondly. His mother made chile relleno for him when he was a boy.
The fresh poblano peppers and Oaxaca cheese are traditional but not mandatory. You can use Anaheim peppers instead, and if Oaxaca is difficult to find, try a combination of mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
Serve this dish with refried beans, rice, and tortilla chips on the side. If you have leftovers, stuff them inside a warm bean burrito the next day. Simply reheat the peppers in an oven until they’re bubbling.
Time to make
1 hour 30 minute
½ lb. ground venison
6 medium or large poblano peppers
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. chili powder
10 oz. Oaxaca cheese, shredded
4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Crumbled queso fresco cheese, to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
1 dried New Mexico/Anaheim chili
2 dried guajillo chilies
½ medium onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. oregano
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
2 cups fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 ½ tsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of half a lime
- To make the salsa, place dried chilies in a saucepan, add enough water to cover, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toast or broil the onion and garlic until charred, turning occasionally. Transfer the charred onion, garlic, and chilies to a food processor, and then pulse until smooth, adding just enough simmering water to get the blades going. Next, add the remaining salsa ingredients, except the salt and lime. Blend to the consistency of your liking—I like my salsa roja chunky, but most recipes will call for a smoother sauce. Season to taste with salt and lime juice. This recipe makes about 1 quart of salsa.
- Broil the poblano peppers until blistered and charred. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover to allow them to steam for about 10 minutes.
- Over medium-high heat, brown ground venison, chili powder, and oregano in 2 teaspoons of oil. Season with salt and allow to cool.
- Carefully scrape the skin off the poblano peppers. Cut an opening down the middle of each pepper, being careful not to cut through to the other side. Remove the ribs and seeds. Stuff the peppers with a layer of Oaxaca cheese, cooked ground venison, and then more cheese. Secure the openings with toothpicks. Be careful not to overstuff the peppers or they might be difficult to handle in step six.
- To make the meringue, separate the egg whites from yolks. Beat whites on medium-high speed with a stand/hand mixer until they resemble the thickness of whipped cream. Break the yolks and gently fold them into the meringue.
- Before you are ready to fry the peppers, heat the salsa in a saucepan and keep warm. Add an inch of oil to a deep fry pan. When the oil gets hot, lightly coat each stuffed pepper with flour and then carefully dip them into the meringue. Fry the chile relleno seam-side down, and then flip. Do not overcrowd the pan. Fry in batches; only dip peppers just before they go into the oil. Drain peppers on paper towels.
- Ladle hot salsa onto serving dishes and lay one stuffed pepper on top of each dish. Remove the toothpicks before serving.