CRISPY CHILES RELLENOS

Classic, but not the "usual"
Many years ago, Meredith Brokaw’s co-author Ellen Wright took a course from Diana Kennedy, the well-respected cook of Mexican cuisine. Diana taught this technique of making chiles rellenos, and although the filling varies from pueblo to pueblo, Diana Kennedy told her students that the general way to make them is the same everywhere: the poblano peppers are stuffed with a three-cheese filling and flavored with lots of fresh cilantro. The cornmeal-batter crust protects the filling and gives it some crunch. You may use squash blossoms from zucchini plants instead of poblano peppers to stuff. If you prefer the traditional fluffy-egg-batter-dipped chiles rellenos with red tomato sauce, or a similar recipe made in casserole-style, please look for the several recipes posted in our Recipe Archives (menu at left).










MAKES 6-8 STUFFED CHILES

for the filling:
1 1/2 cups, low-fat ricotta cheese
2/3 cup, feta cheese - crumbled
2/3 cup, firmly packed sharp white cheddar cheese - grated
1 large garlic clove - minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 tablespoons, fresh cilantro - minced
1 tablespoon, fresh oregano - minced

6 to 8 small poblano chiles

for the batter:
6 cups, canola oil (or other light, pure oil)
1 cup, all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon, kosher salt
1/2 to 1 cup, sparkling water - chilled
1 cup, cornmeal

In a large mixing bowl using a fork, lightly mash together the ricotta cheese, feta cheese and cheddar cheese. Add the garlic, cilantro, and oregano and mix to make a light paste.

With a sharp knife, cut an opening down one side of each poblano and remove the seeds. The opening creates a pocket to hold the filling. Stuff each chile with 3 to 4 tablespoons filling.

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet or a heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking (about 365 degrees). In a shallow dish, whisk the flour, egg yolk, and salt with enough sparkling water to make a batter the consistency of heavy cream. Place the cornmeal in another shallow dish.

Dip each stuffed chile into the batter and let the excess drip off. Dredge in the cornmeal and set aside.

When the oil is ready (it should read about 365 degrees on a candy/deep fry thermometer), slide the chiles into the oil, one at a time. Cook, turning once, until nicely browned on all sides. Remove each chile carefully with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels or an opened brown paper bag. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from: Big Sky Cooking by Meredith Brokaw and Ellen Wright (Artisan).