The Charred Chile Relleno
It’s 4th of July weekend and all I want to eat is Chile Rellenos. It doesn’t seem right, but I don’t care. I will have my stuffed pepper. Though I do love a well-battered, deep-fried, cheese-filled Chile Relleno, it is the middle of the summer and all of that just does not translate to skin baring summer attire. So I’m making this my way. I’ve also been itching to bust out my Le Creuset and this will be a great reason to do so.
This Chile Relleno will be charred, not fried and filled with lots of summer vegetables from the farmer’s market, rice, some cheese and set off with a couple of salsas – roja and negra, inspired my readings of the great Chef Rick Bayless. If you really want to go super healthy use faro or quinoa. I’m using regular white rice because that’s what I have on hand. And I like it. I will also use cheddar. If you want to keep this vegan or you’re doing some serious calorie counting, you can skip it. I will not skip the cheese. If I don’t allow myself the pleasure of a little dairy, I will likely get a pretty serious craving and go nuts on some pizza. Mmmm…pizza. In seriousness, moderation is my best method for staying in shape.
Kitchen novices, don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe. Nothing here is difficult, I promise, it just requires some attention to detail. It’s intensely flavorful and satisfying, relatively inexpensive to make and actually healthy. I think I may never eat a fried Chile Relleno again.
Charred Chile Rellenos with Two Salsas (Makes 5)
For the Salsa Negra:
- 1 – 7 oz can chipotles en adobo, roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Molasses or Honey
- 2-3 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 Tablepoons Balsamic vinegar
- ½ Cup Water
- 2 Tablespoons Soy
In a blender combine chipotles, molasses, vin, sugar and ¼ C honey. Rip the mixture until as smooth as possible. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small pot. If you don’t mind a lumpy, bumpy salsa filled with seeds from the chipotles, then skip this step, but I highly recommend not being lazy here and straining. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently until the sauce is very thick and pasty and reduced to about ¾ C. Remove from heat and add soy and remaining ¼ C water. Set Aside.
For the Salsa Roja:
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- 1/3 Cup water
- ¼ Cup salsa negra
Puree tomatoes until smooth. Heat 2 T oil on med-high heat, add tomatoes and stir until thick, about 10 min. Add ¼ C salsa negra and 1/3 C water and simmer until thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the Chile Rellenos:
- 5 Pablano peppers
- 1 baby yellow squash, small dice
- 1 baby zucchini, small dice
- 1 baby eggplant, small dice
- 1 large onion, small dice
- 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 – 16 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ¾ Cup shredded cheddar cheese or whatever kind you have
- 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped plus more for garnish
- ¼ Cup salsa roja
- Juice of 1 lime
- Queso fresco
- 1 Cup rice
- 2 Cups water
- Salt and Pepper
- 7 Tablespoons of any neutral oil (I’m a huge fan of grape seed oil)
Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a 2 quart pot, or pot about that size, on med-high heat. Sweat half of the onion in the pot, sprinkle with salt. Cook for about 5 min or until onions become translucent. Add 1 clove minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 min. Add rice and stir to coat with onions and garlic. Add water, turn heat to high and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce to gentle simmer and cover. Cook for about 20 min. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 1 Tablespoon oil on med-high heat. Sautee squash for about three minutes or until just tender (you don’t want mushy vegetables). Add 1 clove minced garlic, sprinkle with salt and cook for about 1 more minute or until garlic is fragrant. Remove squash and set aside. Repeat with zucchini and eggplant. Heat another Tablespoon of oil, add remaining half of onion, sprinkle with salt and sweat until translucent. Add last clove of minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add beans and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until beans are warmed through.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked rice, all veg and beans, cheese, chopped cilantro and 1/4 Cup salsa roja. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.
Rinse the heavy bottomed pot used to cook veg and heat 2 Tablespoon of oil on med-high heat. Cut slits lengthwise down each pepper being careful not to cut off the top of the pepper. Carefully stuff each pepper with the filling and close with toothpicks (about 3-4 per pepper). Add peppers to pot but do not crowd. Char peppers on each side until well blackened and slightly soft. Serve with salsas and garnish with cilantro and queso fresco. Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks before serving!