Thursday, June 23, 2011
Chiles Rellenos with Mexican Tomato Sauce
A little over a month ago my friend had an overabundance of produce in her CSA basket and offered some Anaheim peppers and fresh garden tomatoes to anybody who wanted them. I was quick to take her up on her offer because really, who can pass up fresh garden tomatoes? Certainly not me, especially now that I don't have a garden anymore.
I used a few of the tomatoes for tomato sandwiches but thinking of them with the peppers, I couldn't get the idea of chiles rellenos out of my mind. I have had chiles rellenos before but have never actually made them, mostly because they are fried. I don't really eat fried foods let alone make fried foods but these just kept nagging at me.
I found a REALLY fabulous recipe on the Food Network website for the chiles rellenos that had a fresh tomato sauce to go with it. It was perfect. It called for just the amount of peppers and tomatoes I had left. It was fate I tell ya!
The peppers are stuffed with a mild Mexican cheese, then battered with a beer batter, typically, but I opted to use ginger ale instead because we don't drink beer. I don't think the quality of the dish was compromised at all by using the ginger ale instead of the beer because, I tell you, it was one of the most fabulous things I have eaten. The tomato sauce was pretty wonderful too. It tasted so fresh and has a unique ingredient that'll make you go hmmmm.
For the chiles:
6 poblano chiles
8 oz. Mexican style cheese, such as Queso Fresco or Cojita (you could also substitute mozzarella, or Monterey Jack if you can't find the other)
For the batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dredging
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. fine salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 12-oz bottle or can ginger ale (or lager-style beer)
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Mexican Tomato Sauce, warm, recipe follows.
Position a rack on the upper most shelf of the broiler element and preheat. Put the chiles on a foil-lined broiler pan and broil, turning occasionally with tongs, until the skin is charred, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a bowl, cover, and cool for 10 minutes or more.
Carefully rub the charred skin off the chiles. Using a small knife, make a lengthwise slit along the side of each chile to form a pocket. Carefully cut out and discard the seeds, carefully rinsing in cold water, if necessary.
Cut the cheese into 6 (1/4-inch-thick) slabs, about 3/4 the length of each chile (your chiles probably vary in length, so tailor the cheese to the chiles). Slip the cheese pieces into the pocket of each chile so they're 2/3 full. (If the cheese protrudes from the chiles, just cut a little off.) "Sew" each chile shut with a wooden skewer or long toothpick.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, cumin, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the ale/beer to a make a smooth batter.
In a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot, pour in the oil to a depth of about 3 inches. (It is important here to make sure you have enough oil so your chilies don't stick to the bottom of the pan while frying.) Heat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 365 degrees F.
Put the flour for dredging on a plate. Working in 2 batches, dredge the chiles in the flour (the dampness of the chiles creates a light paste with the flour that seals over any tears), dip in the batter, and carefully add to the oil. Fry, turning the chiles once, until golden brown and crispy, about 4 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer the chiles rellenos to a dry paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Sprinkle with salt, to taste. Gently pull out and discard the skewers.
Heat the sauce. Spoon some of the sauce on a plate and set 1 chile relleno on top. Repeat with the remaining sauce and chiles. Serve.
Mexican Tomato Sauce:
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1/4 medium yellow onion
6 cloves garlic
5 sprigs fresh cilantro
1 serrano chile (I omitted this because I was serving it with peppers already)
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (preferably Mexican)
In a blender, combine all the ingredients and puree until smooth.
Transfer the tomato puree to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until slightly thick, about 10 minutes. Makes about 3 cups.
SOURCE: Food Network
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