Stuffed chilies, or chiles rellenos, are a staple of Mexican cuisine. You can stuff them with almost anything and they’re usually not too spicy so even a Mexican food newbie can enjoy them! Here’s my take on this traditional dish.
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Last post, I told you how my mom and I had to improvise dinner for the whole family and five unexpected guests. We made a cactus salad, which was a great side dish, but the main dish was even better…stuffed chili peppers!
Poblano peppers are large, green, slick-looking chili peppers that are usually eaten stuffed. They’re not very hot, so it’s generally fine to eat them. You can take my word for it, because in terms of chili heat resistance, I’m a real wuss by Mexican standards. So if I can eat them, I’m pretty sure an unresistant palate can take them.
Stuffed chilies are one of the highlights of Mexican cuisine, and almost every region has its own recipe. They are absolutely wonderful! The only downside to making stuffed chilies is that it’s no picnic, to say the least. You’ll see what I mean. Fans of the quick-and-easy-dinner need not apply!
How to make stuffed chilies
The first thing you have to do is take the chilies and roast them. To do this, you need a “comal”, which is a flat sort of pan that is used to warm tortillas or roast chilies, and any self-respecting Mexican cook has one.
Caution: roasting chilies makes them give off noxious fumes that sting your eyes and throat. I told you this was no picnic!
After they are roasted on both sides, stick them inside a plastic bag and let them cool. The bag will catch the steam and make the skin easier to peel off, which is the next dreaded step.
Once cool, rinse the chilies and start peeling off the skin. This is painstaking work, fit only for hardy and unyielding cooks because those chilies won’t give up their skin so easily! It comes off in teeny tiny bits and pieces. Like I said, no picnic.
As if that wasn’t enough, now you have to slice the suckers open and take out all the seeds and veins. This is a real test of resistance because if you do this with your bare hands, they will very likely catch fire. Some wimpy cooks use gloves or a spoon, but an authentic Mexican cook is able to do this without protection! Don’t worry, hands go numb after a while.
Finally, we see the poblano peppers all peeled and ready to be stuffed.
To stuff the chilies with, my mom had some ground meat left over from the day before. She cooked it with dried fruit, which gives it a sweet flavor that contrasts with the chili heat. This is the easy part. Just spoon the meat mixture into the chilies. Easy peasy!
For the final touch, my mom poured cream over the stuffed chilies and garnished with pomegranate seeds.
I have to tell you everybody loved the stuffed chilies! They were an absolute hit! There are many easier dishes that mom could’ve made, but nothing amazes as much as a delicious stuffed chili. I’m sure we can expect many more unannounced guests for many years to come!
Caution: I know I said poblano peppers are mild and anybody can eat them, but they also come with an element of surprise. The truth is nobody knows how hot a poblano pepper is until you eat it, so you may get one that’s mild or one that’s hotter than hell. It’s all part of the fun!