Living in the rural midwest, I can’t say that we have a lot of authentic Mexican food. Now I don’t know, I’ve never been to Mexico so I can’t say that I’m the best judge there ever was. But according to all the southwestern transplants that end up around here our Mexican food scene is kind of…limited, pathetic, sad. Kind of wah-wah.
My favorite Mexican dish of all time is chile rellenos. Every time I go to a new Mexican restaurant it’s the first thing I try and the deciding factor on whether I’ll go back or not is the chile rellenos. It seems like chile rellenos swing so far across the pendulum of in terms of reliability of tastiness. I’ve had really, really good ones. Fresh, so piping hot that the cheese oozes out and the pepper inside is tender and spicy. And then I’ve had some really bad ones, one in particular so bad that my sister-in-law compared it to looking like a fried rat.
Yeah. That’s pretty darn bad.
Not only did it look that terrible, but it tasted like it looked. I know, I shouldn’t have eaten it, but I did try one bite. I never went back there. But I do regret not taking a picture to document this horror. I also really regretted the one bite I took.
As much as I love them, this love affair with chile rellenos is somewhat of a beast of burden because making them is a heck of a lot of work. You have to roast the peppers, then skin them and seed them. Separate the eggs and whip the whites and yolks separately, then combine them back together for the batter. Stuff the peppers with cheese. Batter the peppers. Fry the peppers. And make the sauce to go with them. Sigh.
I did it once.
Out of the 6 of us in this house, I’m the only one who really likes them, and that means that traditional chile rellenos are way, way too much darn work! Now, I’ve found a lot of chile relleno casseroles out there on the interwebs, but I can’t say that any of them have really won me over. All the ones I’ve tried seem more like an egg based, pepper laden breakfast casserole and just too far away from the original. The chile relleno cups featured today are a different approach. I paired an egg based Yorkshire pudding-like batter with green chiles which might sound odd. It works though, leaving the outside edges nice and crispy and the inside light and airy with a center of oozing melted cheese just like there should be!
I like using fresh ingredients when I can, but with this recipe I opted for canned tomatoes and green chiles in favor of the time saved. Well and the fact that tomatoes and peppers aren’t really in season right now therefore you’re paying more for produce that’s not at it’s prime also factored in. Because canned green chiles lack the bite that poblanos have, I’ve used pepper jack cheese instead of plain Montery Jack to up the spice level. But if you aren’t a spicy eater, then feel free to stick to the Montery Jack. The ranchero sauce that goes with this is easily modified as well. If you like it hot, add more jalapeno. If you don’t, cut it back.
Chile Relleno Cups
If you love classic Chile Rellenos, you'll love this shortcut recipe. Light and crispy breading on the outside surrounds a spicy green chile stuffed with cheese and baked easy in a muffin tin.
- 2 cans whole green chiles
- 8 ounces Pepper Jack Cheese , cut into cubes
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 minced cloves of garlic
- 1/2 jalapeno minced
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (if desired)
- To prepare Chile Relleno Cups:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Drain green chiles and cut each whole chile into 4 strips. Set aside.
- Put a small pat of butter in each section of the muffin tin and place it in the oven.
- Beat the eggs with a mixer on a high speed until light.
- Add in the flour and salt and beat again.
- Add the milk and beat for at least 2 minutes.
- Take the muffin tin out of the oven and swirl the melted butter around to coat each section. Fill the tin about half full with the batter. (There might be leftover batter. Do not overfill or they will overflow.)
- Put two pepper strips into each section and a cube or two of cheese into the center.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 25-28 minutes.
To prepare Ranchero Sauce: In a blender or food processor, puree the the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Add the oil to a sauce pan on medium heat.
- Pour in the tomato puree and turn down to simmer covered over low to medium heat 5-10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cilantro right before serving if desired.