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Chile relleno is a perfect comfort food: hot, spicy and usually covered with tomato sauce. Literally translated as stuffed chile, this dish can be as straightforward or as complex as you prefer. Homemade versions of the chile relleno are as individual as the families that share them and are usually made by stuffing and roasting a fresh pepper or chile, of which there are many kinds.

Chile relleno is a traditional Mexican dish that is typically stuffed with a mild type of cheese like Chihuahua, queso blanco. Then the pepper is stuffed with seasoned meat. Once the pepper is stuffed, it is then dipped in an egg batter and dredged in corn masa flour. Corn masa flour is a soft flour that is made from dried and ground hominy, whole corn kernels soaked in lime. It can be purchased at most grocery stores in the baking or international food aisles. The dredged pepper is then fried and served with a variety of sauces; one of the most popular choices is tomato.

Chile Relleno Recipe

Total Time: 45 minutes | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 1 (35-ounce) can plum tomatoes, drained
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 pickled jalapeno chilies
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Sauce:

  1. In a blender, puree the tomatoes, onions, garlic and chilies. 

  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Ensure the oil is hot, but not smoking. 

  3. Add the tomato puree to the oil and cook, stirring occasionally, around five minutes.

  4. Season sauce with salt and black pepper.

Ingredients for Chile Relleno:

  • 4 peppers
  • 1 pound queso blanco cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Chile Relleno:

  1. First, select the type of pepper you would like to prepare. You may choose from a variety of pepper types for your chile relleno dish, including:
    *   **Poblano:** A mild chile pepper grown in Puebla, Mexico.
    
    • Hatch: Also known as New Mexico/Mexican chile, this pepper is grown in New Mexico, U.S.
    • Anaheim: An extremely mild green pepper from the southern U.S. and Mexico.
    • Pasilla: A black dried pepper that has a mildly spicy, rich flavor.
    • Jalapeno: A pepper that comes in a variety of colors, sizes and potency.
    • Once you have selected a pepper type, wash four peppers in hot water. Using a paper towel, pat the peppers dry.

    • Heat your broiler to 500 F. While the broiler is getting up to temperature, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place peppers on the baking sheet evenly spaced and cook until they blacken and blister, typically 10 minutes. 

    • Next, rotate peppers regularly to blacken all sides.

    • After blackened, place the peppers in a bowl. Tightly seal the bowl with plastic wrap to allow the peppers to steam as they cool, around 15 minutes.

    • Once peppers are cool, rinse them in cold water to peel the skin.

    • Cut a slit down the long side of each pepper and remove the seeds and core. Rinse peppers again inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.

    • Stuff peppers with cheese and other fillings to taste and preference.

    • In a bowl, separate the eggs. Whisk the egg yolks with baking powder. Beat the whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold beaten egg whites into yolk mixture. 

    • Put flour into a shallow bowl. 

    • In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat, then dredge the stuffed peppers. Fry until lightly golden brown and the cheese has melted, around five minutes per side.

    • Plate the stuffed peppers and cover with the sauce you have prepared.

Some variations on this dish use rehydrated dry chilies, typically anchos (dried poblanos) or pasillas. Other variations on this type of traditional Mexican dish are seen around the world using a variety of ingredients. Some examples of similar recipes are fried and stuffed tomatoes. Many Italian dishes also feature fried vegetables covered with tomato sauce.

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About the Author

Danielle Smyth

Danielle Smyth, MS, is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing food, entertainment, and lifestyle articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity (www.sweetfrivolity.com).