The famous green chile of Hatch, New Mexico, is the crucial ingredient for homemade chile rellenos. Hatch chile has been spreading far beyond the New Mexico border, thankfully. Bags of roasted chile have been available online for years, but whole fresh chile hasn’t been in the national produce chain for too long. We’ve been lucky here in Nashville to with Whole Foods and occasionally Kroger where we’ve ordered whole cases. Ask the produce staff if they can get them and hold in their cooler for pick up.
The Roaster Made All the Difference
For years we didn’t have a tumbler-style propane-fired chile roaster. Gas and charcoal grills worked pretty well, but it’s more work and there’s more waste as the smaller chiles dry up and can be impossible to peel. So, we ordered a four-burner tabletop roaster from Arizona, and boy was that a game-changer.
As we’re peeling off the charred skins before chopping and bagging we always set aside some of the best looking whole chile for chile rellenos.
They sound like a project and something often left to the restaurant to make, but they’re pretty easy for the home cook and take only a few steps. They’re just peppers stuffed with cheese, coated with a stiff egg white batter, and fried. Our batter is made with a combo of Tennessee self-rising flour and self-rising cornmeal which adds a little crunch, leavening, and salt. This mixture works like a champ.
Let’s Do Some Quick Hot Oil Frying
Fluffy egg white batter coats the chile perfectly before frying. We leave the chile stems intact as they make a convenient handle.
Frying operations are simple. Two or three at a time, don’t crowd the pan, and don’t leave your post! Gently flip over with spatula and tongs so as not to splash the hot oil.
But wait, there’s more. You can skip the frying entirely and whip up our casserole version. Just spread the puffy mixture over the chiles and cheese and bake. We don’t make this often enough!
- Whole roasted and peeled green chilies--8 works for this amount of batter
- Cheese cut into long thin strips that will fit into the chilies. Use Jack, cheddar, or Mexican melting cheese
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2 tablespoons self-rising flour
- 2 tablespoons self-rising cornmeal mix
Beat the egg whites until stiff in a medium mixing bowl. Beat the yolks in a separate bowl. Fold the yolks, flour, and cornmeal into the whites. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a wide high sided skillet to about 375 F. Cut a slit in the chilies and fill with cheese. Dip each chili into the egg white batter and carefully place in the hot oil. Only fry a few at a time and do not crowd the pan. Cook until golden brown, carefully turning once or twice, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately. This batter recipe will coat about 8 chiles, so double the amount if needed.
CASSEROLE VERSION --If you're not up for frying or just need a great pot luck casserole, here's one inspired by Min's grandmother Johnye Merrell. Use the same relleno batter (except with a little added milk) poured over diced green chile, cheese (and optional leftover meat) and throw it in the oven for half an hour. Every time this casserole comes out of the oven we say "we don't make this often enough." Cheater Chile Relleno Casserole 1 1/2 cups chopped green chile 1 1/2 cups leftover cooked meat (brisket, chicken, hamburger, pork), optional 2 teaspoons ground cumin 2 cups grated cheddar or Jack cheese 4 eggs, separated 2 tablespoons self-rising flour 2 tablespoons self-rising cornmeal mix 2 tablespoons milk Heat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Layer the green chilies and meat in the dish. Sprinkle with cumin and the cheese. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat the yolks in a separate bowl. Add the yolks, flour, cornmeal and milk and blend well. Fold the mixture into the whites. Spread the batter over casserole. Bake about 30 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. Makes about 4 to 6 servings.
Roasted chile is also a great add to your homemade Hatch Green Chile Salsa.
…and don’t forget to break out the cast iron for Green Chile Pork Cornbread Skillet.