Here is my favorite recipe, adapted from Diana Kennedy's Cuisines of Mexico. It involves alot of preparation, but it is well worth it.

Chile peppers are stuffed with cheese, battered, fried, and then simmered in an aromatic broth. The result is a delicious, and surprisingly light, dish. The simmering removes some of the grease left by frying, and the batter in this recipe is very light, being basically just eggs, so these chile rellenos are not as much of a lard-bomb as some can be.

The Chiles

How many? Everyone will want at least 3 of these. Plus, before they are simmered in the broth, they will keep well in the fridge or freezer. They are alot of trouble to make, so you might as well go whole hog.

The best chiles to use are poblanos, but you can also use Anaheim chiles. Make sure they are not wrinkled and the flesh is firm -- no slimy parts. To prepare,

  • First, you must remove the skin -- read the instructions here.
  • Remove the seeds without tearing the chile apart -- this is tricky. Make a lengthwise slit starting close to the stem end, but not going all the way to the tip. (If the chile curves in a particular direction, it's good to make the slit on the concave side, because this will help keep the slit closed and your stuffing might stay inside.) Inside the chile, the seeds will be mostly in a mound near the stem, and there will be two or three tough, thin "veins" connecting the walls of the chile to the mound of seeds. Carefully separate these veins from the walls without tearing the walls, and the cut the mound of seeds off at its base. You might want to rinse the chile out to make sure there are no stray seeds -- this is where most of the fire resides.

You could stop here for now.

If you want, you can do the chile preparation the day before, and wait until the next day to stuff them, fry them, and simmer them in the broth.

The stuffing

I like to stuff my chiles with either plain monterey jack, or with a mix of corn kernels, diced onion, and red bell pepper mixed with the cheese. The cheese alone is easiest because the larger chunks stay inside the chile better, so I recommend that if it's your first time.

One pound of jack cheese should be plenty to stuff 12 or 15 chiles. Cut it into longish chunks, about 4 inches long (or whatever the width of the cheese), and 1/2 inch or so thick. Cut some of them smaller, for those cases where there's room for just a little bit more. It can help to make them tapered, because the chiles are shaped that way.

Dry the chiles off, inside and out, before stuffing. Put one or two or three pieces of cheese inside each chile. You don't want them so full they have any inclination to gape open! I don't know how restaraunts get their chiles so full, but don't try. These will be thinner than what you've seen elsewhere, but that just means more delicious poblano goodness to savor.

The batter

Don't make the batter until you are ready to fry the stuffed chiles, because it won't last very long in the right state. Before you start making the batter, put about an inch of cooking oil in a heavy skillet, and start heating it up to medium heat.

For every four chiles you are preparing, use one fresh egg. Completely separate the yolk from the white, and set the yolks aside. Whip the whites until they are stiff. Once they stand up in little stiff peaks, stir the yolks to mix them together, and gradually add them to the whites, stirring gently with a spoon.

Now the action begins. You will need

  • a plate with flour on it, to flour the chiles.
  • a spoon in the batter bowl, just in case.
  • a spoon for use with the hot oil.
  • tongs for removing chiles from the oil.
  • a plate and plenty of paper towels for draining the fried chiles.
Make sure the oil is ready by putting a little blob of batter in. It should sizzle safely and begin to brown slightly. Anything more than that, and it's probably too hot.

For each chile,

  • Pat it dry again.
  • Dust it with flour, and gently shake off the excess.
  • Hold it by the stem, and dip it in the batter. If you did well on the seed removal step and the stars are smiling upon you, the cheese will not fall out of the slit. Make sure the whole thing is covered with batter up to the stem, with only a little stem (your handle!) sticking out.
  • Gently place the chile in the hot oil. If you like to mess with stuff, you can use a spoon to ladle some hot oil up on to the top to start cooking the batter there. Don't get too carried away.
  • You can probably start working on another chile now, especially if there is room for more than one in your skillet. Get an assembly line going.
  • After a couple of minutes, the bottom side should be a nice golden brown. Turn it over and brown the other side.
  • Remove it when all surfaces are nicely browned, and place it on paper towels to drain.

Ready for a break?

Theoretically, you could let them cool and put them in the fridge and continue the following day. But, right now the cheese is melted inside them, and there's not that much more to do before you can eat them! So take a small break, then get back in the kitchen.

The broth

This is the only part I can't do from memory. You can make the broth (actually, a light sauce) ahead of time, and reheat it when it's time to do the final step.

Ingredients (enough broth for 12-15 chiles):

Tools: Peel and seed the tomatos by placing them in a shallow pan under a broiler til the skin browns; turn them. The skin should come right off. Cut them in half, and squeeze out the seeds, straining the juice into the blender. Put the tomatos, but not the seeds, in the blender. Chop the onion and the garlic roughly, and put them in the blender too. Blend until smooth.

Heat the lard or oil in the heavy skillet. When it's hot, add the tomato/onion/garlic puree, and cook over a high flame for about 3 minutes. It will bubble and splatter; stir so it doesn't stick. Add the spices and keep stirring for another 5 minutes. Then, add the canned broth and a can full of water and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. At this point it should be reduced a bit, but still more like a broth than a sauce.

The Final Step

Hungry? Are your guests ready to eat? OK, this last step won't take long, and the chiles should be eaten right away. Only simmer the ones you are sure will be eaten; if there are any left, you can save them and some of the broth for a day or two in the fridge.

Make sure the broth is hot, as it will be if you have just finished making it. Lay a batch of chiles in the broth and simmer them over medium heat for a couple of minutes, if they are still warm from being fried, or longer (5?) if they came out of the refrigerator. Turn them over and simmer the other side about the same amount of time.

Serve with a little bit of the broth spooned over each chile.

Ingredient summary

In addition to the ingredients listed for the broth, you'll need:

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