Peppers ranks among my favorite vegetables. The almost perennial woody bushes gives me fruits ranging from large and fleshy to small and spicy. Sometimes, however, I go overboard with the amount of peppers I plant: this year my gardens have over 70 pepper plants. The abundant amount of produce quickly grows out of control if not carefully managed.
I have little trouble with bell peppers since their thick flesh offers a wide selection of culinary choices. But when varieties posses thin flesh (or have heat), the options shrink. Chile Rellenos, the patriotic dish of Mexico, offers a great option for such a pepper to star in.
Chile rellenos result from a Mexican vegetable, the chile, stuffed, or refilled (“relleno” in Spanish), with Spanish-influenced meats and cheeses. Traditionally, the dish uses the poblano pepper, which imparts that characteristic flavor and a little heat.
Hot banana peppers make a wonderful substitution for those who, like me, crave more heat. The stuffing for the peppers includes cheeses and meats. I recommend a Spanish cheese such as the buttery sheep’s milk Manchego or smooth cheddar-like Mahon. The crumbly Mexican queso fresco also works well in combination with other cheeses. The chef traditionally makes the meat into a Picadillo, a Mexican hash, to stuff into the peppers.
Make the picadillo first for this recipe.
- 1/4 lb venison, finely chopped
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1 clove garlic
- olive oil for frying
- 12 oz. canned tomatoes, drained
- 3 or 4 sprigs parsley
- 1or 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 Lime
- Heat oil in a medium sauté pan until shimmering, and than add meat and brown.
- drizzle oil In another sauté pan and sweat onions. Add garlic once onions have sweated and cook until browned.
- Combine meat and onions and add remaining ingredients. Reduce until the “soups” turns into a moist “hash.”
- 4 poblano peppers (or if you like spicy, substitute hot banana peppers for the poblano peppers)
- 1 cup cheese (mahon , manchego [sheep], queso Chihuahua, quaso Oaxaca, etc)
- ½ cup picadillo (below)
- 4 eggs, separated (egg yolks in one bowl and egg whites in a large bowl)
- Roast and skin peppers. This is done easiest on the stovetop burner, but if you don’t have a gas stovetop, use your stove broiler. Rotate until blackened. With a towel, wipe off blackened skin.
- Seed peppers. Make an incision just below head of pepper, like you intend to cut the stem off but only halfway through. Then make a lengthwise cut to form a ‘T’ shape. Remove seeds and membrane.
- Mix together cheese and picadillo then stuff peppers.
- Prepare the egg batter by beating egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold into beaten egg yolks.
- In a cast iron skillet, heat ½ inch of oil until shimmering. Spoon a dollop of egg batter into oil, then place stuffed peppers atop. Spoon batter on top of pepper until covered. After about a minute, or when golden brown, flip and allow to fry until golden brown, about 3 more minutes.
- Place chiles on a plate and cover with your favorite salsa.