05 November 2015

Chiles Rellenos {My Cooking Adventure}

I'm going to start this post by saying that I DESPISE cooking, cleaning, or doing anything remotely domestic. I can't figure out why my house just won't clean itself! My poor, patient Hector had to force me to learn to cook. I am perfectly content eating out my entire life, even if my bank account doesn't agree. When Cecilia was born, my cooking skills extended about as far as French Toast, which is where they were when I was 12. Being married to a Mexican man who suggestsdeamands that I learn to cook some Mexican food, I have tried to oblige and move outside of my comfort zone. The first thing I cooked for him was Caldo de Res, or beef soup. I first watched his mother in the kitchen for a few hours, then moved on to attempting this one on my own. Then tortillas, which I've finally mastered after 10 years. Then sopes, then mole, then tamales. But Chiles rellenos have always been a challenge for me, mostly because my mother in law swears up and down that she cannot make them. Whenever I have attempted these in the past, the chiles are never quite right, the egg batter falls off, or they simply fall apart.

But this week, after watching countless YouTube videos, asking numerous Facebook friends, and just walking out into the great unknown, I made them for myself.

Step One: Prepare the chiles

I used 5 chile poblanos for this experiment. I put them on my comal on medium-high heat until they were cooked through (soft and easily cut with a fork. The outside will be a bit charred, just scrap that off and the dark green will be a lighter green color.

After I grilled the chiles, I let them cool a bit before I split them open and removed the seeds. Chile poblanos mostly have their seeds at the wide part of the top, by the stem. I cut them open in a T-shape, which allowed me to spoon out the seeds in one motion. A few straggling seeds were either left behind, or I washed them out with a bit of water.

Step 2: Fill the chiles and prepare them for batter

I suppose that you could fill chiles rellenos with any kind of filling, but the kind I'm most accustomed to is cheese. I used sticks of Monterey jack cheese, because it's my favorite kind of cheese, relatively inexpensive, and it melts really well. I squeezed two sticks into each chile.

You can flour the chiles before or after you add the filling. I did it before, mostly because I was in my own la-la land trying to not screw everything up. Give the chiles a good coating of flour. This will help the batter stick to the chiles when you fry them.

After doing this step, set the chiles aside. I was so proud of myself at this point. Some people like to close their chiles up with toothpicks at this point, so that they don't come apart while you cook them. This is probably a good idea, but I don't keep toothpicks on hand and it isn't going to change the flavor of the food. I managed to keep mine together (most of them) without poking them. Look how pretty they are....

Step Three: Prepare the batter

The batter is the step that brings me the greatest anxiety. I get that you have to whip the egg whites and slowly add the yolks back in, but I am not good at this skill. I used my mom's electric mixer to help me out (*Memo to me: find my electric mixer and take it home to TJ).

 I separated five egg whites from the yolks. A good rule of thumb is one egg per chile. I beat the egg whites till they were fluffy, then added the yolks back in, one by one. I don't know if I should have added all of the yolks, as the batter did get a bit runny and I had to re-beat it half way through the frying step.

Step Four: Batter the chiles and fry them

I was ready for frying and assembling. I first heated some old bacon grease (yes, I save it in a jar) and Crisco in my fry pan. It was mostly Crisco, but I love the flavor the bacon grease gives food).  I do almost all of my cooking in cast iron; I think food cooks better this way. I heated the grease over medium-high heat, not all the way up. If the grease is burning, it's definitely too hot.

I carefully submerged the chiles, with their filling, into the batter mix. I made sure they were coated completely. I carefully laid them in the cooking oil on the stove; they began to bubble. I started them with the slices up. Some of the egg batter slid off, exposing the openings that I made in the chiles. I spooned a little bit of the batter into the openings and they were fine.

To flip the chiles and keep them from falling apart, I used a large spatula. When I successfully flipped my first one, I about cried. I knew I had done it! I fried them until they were a golden brown color, then (again with the large spatula) I lifted them up from the grease and set them on the plate, while the chorus of "We Are The Champions" played in my head.

To humble myself a little bit here, I did have one fall apart, which I ate first and it was super delicious. I can't believe I made something without my mother-in-law's help. I hope that I can repeat this success in the future, so that Hector can actually eat something besides beans and rice!

I'd like to thank the Academy for my success..

1 comment:

  1. Way to go! And your instructions make it look like a relatively simple process. (And maybe it IS easier to fill them with cheese, instead of picadillo . . . I´d rather just eat the picadillo without stuffing it into something.) You ´ve inspired me to try making them again!

    Thanks! (Heaven knows I need some inspiration when it comes to meal plans.)