RECIPE

Chile Rellenos

Take chile rellenos to a new level with breaded peppers stuffed with chicken, cheese and corn. Top with a tomatillo sauce.

Ingredients

  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 6 tomatillos, peeled
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, 1 whole and 1 seeded and finely chopped, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, 4 with jackets (skins) left on and 2 chopped, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (1/3 palmful)
  • A handful of basil leaves, plus additional for garnish
  • A handful of cilantro leaves, plus additional for garnish
  • A drizzle of honey
  • 2 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 3-4 tablespoons crème fraiche, Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or vegetable oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium ears of corn, kernels scraped
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2-2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken, rotisserie-style or poached breast meat
  • 1 cup cheddar, Monterey Jack or chihuahua cheese, shredded
  • Frying oil, such as safflower or vegetable oil with omega-3
  • Flour, for dredging
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Diced heirloom tomatoes, for topping
  • Crumbled Cotija cheese, for topping

Preparation

Place an oven rack one notch above the center of the oven and broil the poblanos until they’re charred evenly all over; leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow the steam to escape. Place the charred peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool to handle. Peel, then cut a slit in one side of each pepper and carefully remove the seeds.


Arrange the tomatillos, onion quarters, 1 jalapeño (leave whole for a spicy sauce or seed for milder sauce) and four cloves of garlic in their jackets on baking sheet. Broil to char the tomatillos all over. Leave the pepper, if seeded, skin-side up and turn the onion quarters once to char evenly. Let cool.


Add the cooled veggies to a food processor; season with salt, pepper, cumin, basil and cilantro. Add a drizzle of honey and about 1/2 cup chicken stock. Puree until smooth, then add to a saucepot. Add the remaining stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes to thicken the sauce and develop the flavors. Turn off the heat until ready to serve. Just before serving, reheat the sauce, then stir in the crème fraiche, crema or sour cream.

In a medium size sauté pan, heat the EVOO or vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook to lightly brown and caramelized at edges, giving the pan a good shake now and then, 5-6 minutes. Add the red onion, thyme, finely chopped jalapeño, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Toss together for 2 minutes more, then douse the pan with lime juice. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to handle.


Combine the chicken and cheese with the corn. Stuff the poblano peppers as full as possible, gently pressing to set the filling once the peppers are full. Shape them a bit, place on plate and chill for 1 hour to firm up.


Set up a frying station: 2-3 inches of frying oil heating to 350°F and shallow dishes of flour, egg and panko. Remove the poblanos from the fridge and coat in the flour first, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Fry to deep golden; remove and drain on a cooling rack, sprinkle with salt.

Pour a ladle of sauce into a shallow dish or bowl. Set the fried poblanos into the sauce and garnish with tomatoes and Cotija crumbles, cilantro leaves and/or torn or sliced basil.

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Rachael Ray