Chiles Rellenos Vegetarianos
By La Salsa Inglesa
Chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers) are a popular Guatemalan dish. This recipe is a quicker version than the original because it fills the peppers with cheese rather than meat and vegetables, and uses a simple batter mix without the need of an electric whisk. However, it is by no means comida rápida so give yourself an hour or two on a rainy weekend in Xela to experiment with this recipe.
Another thing: true Chiles rellenos belong to highest class of Guatemalan culinary art. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t come out perfectly first time. Looks aren’t everything and they will still taste delicious. Trust me.
The batter should be enough to cover about 6 red peppers and 4-6 jalapeños (optional if you like hot chilies. Otherwise, you can always use more red peppers). Make as many as possible to aprovechar de the batter and fat. I tend to serve one large pepper and one jalapeño per person with a salsa de tomate casera.
- 6 largish red bell peppers (chile pimiento)
- 4 jalapeño chilies (optional for those that like their food hot!)
- A lot of oil for frying (at least a medium-sized bottle)
- Half pound of queso fresco
For the batter
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup flour plus at least half an extra cup for coating all the chilies
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (polvo para hornear)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonato)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon oil
- The first step is the most time-consuming: char-grilling the peppers. Heat a heavy bottomed pan and begin to toast the peppers, turning to blacken each side. This can also be done over an open flame or on a comal. The skins need to be pretty black on all sides so you can then proceed to peel them off. Putting them in a plastic bag in the freezer once toasted to sweat for a while helps speed up the process of skinning the peppers.
- Once the peppers are skinned, carefully make one long vertical slice to open them up, take out the seeds and membrane. Repeat with the rest. This is a particularly important step for the jalapeños.
- Slice the queso fresco into lengthways pieces and stuff each pepper with one slice, wrapping up to close
- Now make the batter. In a bowl, add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Then make a well in the middle and add the whisked egg and teaspoon of oil, gently beginning to combine the egg with the flour using a whisk or fork and then gradually adding the milk until you have a smooth paste
- Fill a deep frying pan with approx. one inch of oil and begin to heat over a medium high flame
- While the oil is heating, pour the extra flour onto a flat plate. Take the peppers one-by-one and roll in the flour to completely cover
- When the oil is hot (you can test this by dripping a droplet of batter in the oil. If it bubbles straight away it should be hot enough), take the first floured pepper and dunk it in the batter to fully cover and then carefully place it in the hot oil. Cook on one side until golden brown then turn over to cook the other side (if not completely submerged). Repeat with the rest until the pan is full (but not too full). You will probably need to cook them in batches. The more oil you have, the less chance they will stick to the bottom
- Once the peppers are golden brown remove and place on kitchen roll to soak up some of the excess oil. Continue to make the rest and serve warm with rice and the salsa de tomate or cold with salad and avocado. And don’t forget the huge pile of freshly made tortillas!