I love chiles rellenos (stuffed chiles). I like them in the traditional way – friend in an egg batter and topped with a mild chile and tomato sauce. I like them as cool rellenos – peeled long green chiles served cold stuffed with guacamole, or shrimp, or salpcion (spicy shredded chilled beef) or even chilled tuna salad. My favorite way is fried in a crumb batter. My mother used to crush saltine crackers for the crust. Now we have access to Panko crumbs – Japanese style bread crumbs, which make it easier to have crispy crunchy rellenos. As much and I love them and enjoy them, I’m not at all fond of cleaning up after frying or figuring out what to do with left over cooking oil. And, yes, I know I’ve written about this way of making rellenos before, but it is worth repeating.
When my niece visits from Montana, I’m expected to make a batch of rellenos for her. A couple of weeks ago, I made her a batch of fried ones because that’s the way grandma taught us and it is tradition. And then I got to clean up after frying about two and a half dozen rellenos for four people. My niece and her husband and father got to take the leftovers home. I did manage to stash four away for breakfast the next day.
A couple of weeks later, I woke with a craving for chiles rellenos, a favorite breakfast. I didn’t want to fry them because I was just making a few for breakfast. I resorted to my old standby trick – baked rellenos.
I poured a pile of Panko crumbs into a sauté pan and toasted them to a nice golden brown. If you don’t toast them, they remain pale and your rellenos look anemic. While the crumbs toasted, I preheated my oven to 375°. I laid out flour on a plate, poured some liquid egg product on a second plate and put the Panko on a third plate. I’ve started using a carton of egg product when I bread something because it is easier to wipe off a carton than to stop everything and whip an egg or two in the middle of breading.
I can buy freshly roasted long green chiles year ’round in El Paso. A local market roasts them every day. I just have to take a bag home and peel the blistered skin off them. I put a big bowl of water in the sink and peel and swish my chiles in the bowl. That uses less water than washing them under the tap.
Then I slice my cheese to fit in the chiles. We’ve been getting beautiful long chiles lately and it takes a long slice of cheese. I like colby/jack or jack cheese in my rellenos. Plain cheddar gets rubbery when it cools.
The chiles are stuffed, then I roll them in flour; next in the egg product and finally a roll in the toasted crumbs. I put the coated rellenos on a rack on a sheet pant and pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes, then turn them carefully and bake about 10 minutes more. The baking melts the cheese and cooks the egg product giving me a nice lightly crunchy rellleno. I keep my rellenos warm after the batch are cooked while I fry eggs to go with them. Sometimes I make refried beans as a side dish, but usually I just have a couple of rellenos and a couple of eggs and call it breakfast. If the chiles are very hot, I can quickly warm up corn tortillas to temper the heat.
On the Sunday I made these, I served us each two relines and two eggs. Plates and cutlery went in the dishwasher, pans were given a quick had wash and there was no frying clean up to worry about. And it all came together in under 40 minutes.