I am no longer eating gluten, but one of my favorite things is Chilis Rellenos. I found a recipe from the 1970s that was a for a casserole that didn’t involve the time consuming deep frying and the flour. Although their original recipe had flour in the egg mixture. I adapted their recipe to make these. I did use about 1/2 cup masa/corn flour, but you could eliminate that if you want. I find it gives the casserole just a tad of texture that I like.
The hardest part of all Relleno recipes is that you have to roast them to get their skins off. This is something you can do a day before, but it takes time and it stinks up your kitchen and messes up your stove top or broiler. If you don’t have a gas burning stove, I don’t know how to tell you to do these. I’ve never tried broiling or roasting them without an open flame. So, you can set the Poblano or Anaheim peppers, one or two at a time, over your gas flame and let them cook directly on the flame and get blackened and turn them frequently to get as much of the skin cooked/browned/black. Immediately after getting the pepper cooked put it in a glass bowl with a cover, you can use a plate if you don’t have a glass bowl cover. The point is to seal the heat in the glass which helps steam the pepper.
So, you repeat this process ten or more times for each pepper. It’s okay for the heat and steam to escape each time you add another pepper. Eventually all the peppers will be finished and you will keep the plate or lid on your bowl for a 1/2 hour or so. You can do this overnight as well. If you are using the broiler, less messy, not as flavorful, you have to pay attention and turn the peppers (and you can do them all at once) every few minutes. I have cooks’ fingers, which means I can turn these peppers with my bare hands, if you don’t have toughened fingers, wear a clean cloth mitt or use tongs to turn the peppers.
You cannot cook this recipe if you are in a hurry or distracted.
This is a labor of love.
Once you have steamed the rellenos, you will start to peel off their skins. This is a messy job. I recommend having a small bowl of warm water to rinse your hands off with. Put the whole peppers in the bottom of a large glass casserole dish that has been liberally dosed with olive oil. You can leave the stems on or cut them off as you wish. If you cut them off, your cheese will run out more into the casserole, leaving them on is a nice visual. For this batch I cut them off, but I’ve done it both ways.
Cut up as many long thin strips or wedges of either Monteray Jack cheese or Pepper Jack cheese or a vegan equivalent. Make a cut in the peppers vertically, they may have natural tears in them from the roasting, and insert the long wedges of cheese. It’s like a pepper burrito, you are stuffing the peppers with the cheese.
Separate the yolks from the whites of twelve eggs. Whisk the egg whites so they are fluffy. Mix the egg yolks with some milk, or half & half, just a 1/2 cup, and a 1/4 cup sour cream or crème fraiche. Add salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika as you like. You can omit the cayenne if you don’t want spicy. I always want spicy! Add 1/2 cup of corn meal/masa or whatever flour you want to use that works for your diet. I don’t recommend a nutty flour, you could use rice flour or cassava flour. Add the egg whites and fold so you have a light mixture. Add a cup of grated cheddar cheese.
Pour this whole mixture over your chilis and bake in the oven at 365 for 45 minutes to an hour. The egg mixture will puff up and become a beautiful golden brown.
Eggless Version: Do everything the same for the chilis, but instead of mixing up the egg batter, make a fresh red salsa or use a good one from the store and coat the Rellenos with it. Bake in the oven for 1/2 hour. It won’t need as much time.
This casserole is best served with a warm fresh marinara sauce. I make mine from scratch and the recipe is from my daughter’s Israeli grand mother. I’ve never found a better one: Sapta Rachel’s Best Tomato Sauce. If you are using the fire-roasted tomatoes, instead of fresh tomatoes, which is what I do in the winter, I just adapt her recipe and use the defrosted tomatoes I’ve had waiting in my freezer for just this moment. I also omit the basil from this marinara as the flavors are more Mexican than Italian.
Fresh Fire-Roasted Salsa: Combine in a blender two or three Serrano or Jalapeño peppers with a quart of fire-roasted tomatoes (which have garlic, salt and pepper already in them if you are using ones you made from my recipe). If you are using canned ones, add four or five fresh garlic bulbs, salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon or more of oregano and a handful of fresh cilantro. Blend until smooth. Grind with a mortar and pestle or in a molcajete two tablespoons of fresh cumin seeds, heat up in a small skillet or cast iron pot the ground cumin seeds and let them toast gently, stirring constantly. After about one minute, add the liquid and cook for 1/2 hour or so, stirring frequently and don’t let it boil, but get it hot and keep stirring. Add more salt or black pepper to taste and serve it warm on the table. Or pour it over your eggless rellenos and bake.
I also make pico de gallo, click on the words to get taken to that recipe, for a compliment as an added bit of crunch. Then you can make guacamole while the casserole is cooking. Serve with a fresh salad, corn chips, sour-cream and black beans (also made best from scratch).
I know this seems like a lot of work, it is, but it is way less work than making the actual Chili Rellenos the regular way, trust me on this!
Here’s the list of ingredients and amounts:
- Ten to twelve Poblano or Anaheim peppers (don’t bother making this in a small size, you can always freeze portions of this and have a treat at a later date)
- a dozen eggs (or vegan alternative)
- two large blocks of cheese or vegan alternative (one Pepper Jack or Monterey and one Cheddar)
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes a large amount
- olive oil
- garlic bulbs -6-10 for salsas
- fresh cumin seeds 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup corn masa/corn flour/ or flour of your choice
- 1/4 sour cream or vegan alternative
- 1/2 cup milk or cream
- cayenne powder, paprika, salt and pepper to taste
- Pico de gallo ingredients are in the recipe you can link to