I love a good chile relleno. Mildly spicy chile peppers, fire roasted and stuffed with a meaty-cheesy filling and fried to crispy, golden goodness. What could be better, right? A while back, I ventured to a Southwestern restaurant called Canyon with some friends. One of the standout dishes — that none of us could stop picking at — were their chile rellenos. Om-nom-nom!
They were so good that a week later, I still couldn’t get them out of my head. Happily, I had a few packages of fire-roasted hatch chilies in my freezer — whispering – no, TAUNTING — “you know you want me…” Yeah. I did.
In general, I don’t make a lot of fried foods and usually steer clear of submerging anything in raging oil. Partly because of the whole health aspect, but if I’m honest, it’s more about the cleanup. It’s kind of a P.I.T.A. Not just the counter and stove, which inevitably accumulate a fine layer of greasy mist, but the whole house ends up smelling like a fast food restaurant that no amount of Febreeze will mitigate — so, you know I had a real hankerin’ when I decided to make these!
While they’re not hard to assemble, they do require more effort than I’m usually willing to make for dinner. But I was committed. The filling came together pretty quickly with cheddar and cream cheese plus some shredded chicken. Depending on the type of pepper you use, stuffing the chiles can be simple or tedious. The flesh of my chilies was pretty thin, so I had to be careful not to rip them when I added the filling. Then I popped them into the fridge for an hour to firm up before frying.
While the chiles chilled, I started on the cornmeal batter. Mixing the dry ingredients with the egg yolks in one bowl, whipping the egg whites in another and folding them together. Then adding the cornmeal to give the rellenos that crunchy crust. Again, I REALLY wanted these rellenos!
Finally, working in batches, I dunked the peppers into the batter and carefully added them to the hot oil. I used my cast iron skillet to achieve a dark golden exterior. They only take a few minutes in the pan before they’re ready. I drained the excess grease on paper towels and was ready to eat! You can dress them up however you like — with a chile spiked tomato sauce, pico de gallo, salsa verde or just cheese and a bit of jarred salsa. There are endless options. Whichever you choose, Tex-Mex Chicken Chile Rellenos will satisfy your cravings!
Tex Mex Chicken Chile Rellenos
- 8 hatch anaheim or poblano chile peppers, charred, peeled and carefully seeded to retain shape
- 2 cups roasted chicken breast shredded
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 3/4 cup peanut or canola oil
- shredded cheddar cheese
- salsa or pico de gallo
- fresh cilantro leaves
- sour cream
- sliced green onions
To roast your chiles, preheat the oven to 425 and place chiles on a baking sheet. Roast until skin is charred and blackened about 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Set aside until cool. When chiles have cooled (about 30 minutes, carefully peel off the skins. Make a slit about 2" long on the chile and remove the seeds and membranes. Set aside.
In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese, cheddar, and cilantro. Add the shredded chicken and mix with your hands until well combined.
Form 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture (depending on the size of your chilies) into a long roll, just slightly smaller than the chile. Stuff the chilies with the chicken mixture and refrigerate for one hour.
Separate the egg yolks and whites in two separate bowls. Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the egg yolks and mix together. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites until just combined. Sprinkle in the cornmeal and fold to the egg white mixture, being careful not to deflate.
Place a heavy skillet over a medium heat. Add oil and wait until the oil reaches about 350-375 degrees.
Work with no more than 2-3 chiles at a time. Dip the filled chiles into the egg mixture and carefully place them in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, flip the chilies and cook the other side until golden. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels to drain. Continue with the remainder of the chiles.
Serve with extra shredded cheese, cilantro, or your favorite salsa.