Blogs » Digital Babble » Food for thought: Chile Rellenos


It's Friday! It's lunchtime! I'm hungry! And what do I have for lunch today? Well thanks to a kind friend, I am looking forward to having a chile relleno for lunch.

Chile relleno - Chile relleno, literally "stuffed chile", is a dish of Mexican cuisine, consisting of a roasted green poblano chile pepper stuffed with cheese, (also meat and pieces of potato), covered in an egg batter, and fried. It is usually served covered with a sauce, although the type of sauce varies widely. The chiles used are usually poblano, but Anaheim or New Mexico chiles can also be used.

Chiles before transformation.

...and after

Ok, I have not always been a fan of chile rellenos. For some reason eating an entire pepper stuffed with food never seemed appealing to me, that is, until I actually tried it. After that, I was hooked.

One thing that makes the difference between a pleasurable dining experience and an experience that makes your eyes water and cause you to furiously pour gallons upon gallons of cold water down your throat, is when the person preparing the chile relleno removes the seeds from the peppers before filling them. Trust me, your non-melted taste buds will thank you, unless you are a glutton for punishment and enjoy eating spicy food. (Not me, I'm a food wimp.)

Some people eat chile rellenos as a meal alone, but I usually eat them with beans and rice. My favorite chile rellenos are those filled with cheese, meat and chopped up pieces of potato.

During my research for this post, I found possibly the best article written about chile rellenos, penned by Mary Brown Malouf. Read it when you get a chance, Malouf does an excellent job of introducing us to the origins of this dish.

Click here for entire article
Source: Chile
Chile Relleno Dreams
By Mary Brown Malouf

The matter of translation: Chile relleno means “stuffed pepper.” That’s the dictionary’s black-and-white definition of the famous Mexican dish.

But recent research indicates that we humans store food memories in a different part of the brain than we store other information. Smell and taste evoke experiences, not just facts.

That means when it comes to cuisine, the matter of translation becomes very difficult, differing according to our taste memory. No food is a better example of this than the chile relleno, which is defined on paper by two words and on the plate by hundreds of variations.

“Stuffed pepper” is not inaccurate—a chile relleno is a stuffed pepper–but it is a completely inadequate definition. That is like saying Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano concerto is exciting. Chile rellenos are complicated dishes with a complex flavor and history. They are at the other end of the Mexican food flavor spectrum from earthy, simple dishes like tortillas. Tasting a chile relleno is, first of all, a delight and secondly, if you’re interested, an experience in cultural archaeology.

See? “Stuffed pepper” hardly sums it up.


Most aficionados do agree that the chile should be a poblano, also known as a pasilla, although Anaheim or other New Mexico chiles may be substituted. If you can only find bell peppers, find another recipe. They are too big and watery to stuff. But philosophies of stuffing, battering, frying and saucing a chile relleno vary from chef to chef, though all are in the same quest for a balance of crisp, succulent, hot, sweet and spice in each bite.

The perfect bite: The goal of every gastronomic enthusiast is the perfect bite–all the essential components of a dish loaded on one fork so the marriage of tastes and textures can be fully appreciated in a single, hopefully graceful– mouthful.


Making the pepper personal: Of course, chefs and restaurants have their own interpretations of chile rellenos. Matt Martinez, owner of Rancho Martinez in Dallas, Texas, and heir to several generations of Mexican restaurants, uses the Martinez family recipe for probably the most famous chile relleno in Texas. The meat filling is usually ground beef, and the pecans and raisins are sprinkled over the top in a dollop of sour cream. (For several years, a Dallas chilehead of Martinez persuasion kept a plastic sandwich bag filled with pecans and raisins in her purse. This was her “in-case-of-chile-relleno” emergency kit should she be confronted with a relleno that did not measure up to Matt’s.) Jorge Fierro, owner of Rico’s Mexican Market in Salt Lake City, uses only egg whites and no yolks in his batter. His all-vegetable-stuffed chile relleno is as popular as his meat-stuffed version, and he fries both in soy oil. Bobby Flay uses dark beer in the batter and goat cheese in his filling. Zuni Grill mixes the pork filling with peaches and Riesling to achieve the sweet, fruity undertones. Vegetarian recipes include beets for the same effect. Blue Mesa, another Texas restaurant, skips the batter and uses blue cornmeal for a Southwest twist. Some cooks advocate the use of egg-roll wrappers to ensure a crispy coating. Steve Raichlen grills his.

And, sadly, a dish is often served under the name of “chile relleno,” but it is really a kind of quiche with stuffed peppers baked in egg batter.

No need to discuss that here.

That is all for today, my mouth is watering just thinking of all of this food. Time for lunch!