"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chiles rellenos

The first time I met my future mother-in-law, my future husband wasn't there. I travelled alone to Oaxaca, Mexico, and stayed for a week in his mother's house. Yes, it was a little awkward. Especially when she asked me when we were getting married; the subject hadn't yet come up between us. Trying to think of things to talk about and maybe do together that didn't require lots of talking (my Spanish wasn't what it is now, ten years later), I asked her what kind of food she would make for her son if he were there. She gave me this recipe. Demonstrated it, actually. My husband says it kicks restaurant versions all to hell (well of course it does, it's his mama's recipe.)

for 4 people:
4 large fresh poblano peppers
12 ounces queso fresco or monterrey jack
4 large eggs

6 to 8 roma tomatoes
2 jalapenos
one smallish yellow onion
1 or 2 cloves garlic
2 allspice berries
1 clove
large pinch cumin
2 cups chicken stock or canned broth
salt and pepper

roast poblanos under the broiler, 3 inches from heat, turning frequently until blistered all over, about 8 minutes. Place in a paper bag, twist shut, and let cool. When cool, peel the peppers, make a small slit in the side and carefully remove the seeds and ribs. Don't worry if some remains. Stuff each pepper with a 2-3 ounce piece of cheese. Set aside.

For sauce: in a large, dry skillet (If you don't have a comal, use cast iron) dry roast tomatoes and roughly chopped onions until blistered and blackened in spots. Add garlic, roughly chopped jalapenos, and spices. As soon as
spices give off a roasted smell, scrape everything into a blender. Blend with chicken stock. Pour into a saucepan and keep warm, adding salt and pepper as desired. 

Back to the chiles: 
Heat 2 cups vegetable oil in a large skillet to deep-fat frying temperature, until a cube of bread browns nicely.
separate the eggs. In a large bowl, beat the whites until soft peaks form. add the yolks and blend gently. Now, carefully take up a chile, slit side up, and pass it through the eggs mixture, coating it, and slide into hot oil. Use a spoon to flick oil over the chile and seal the seam. Fry about two minutes on each side, then place in a large baking dish (I use a lasagna pan.). Repeat with other chiles. Pour tomato sauce over the chiles and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve with white rice and fresh hot corn tortillas.