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The right stuff for chiles rellenos.

Tradition includes a free hand with flavor and form

A fresh large chili rifled with melting cheese, dipped in frothy egg batter, and sizzled golden brown in bubbling oil is an authentic chile relleno. But so is a deep-fried jalapeno stuffed with mozzarella cheese - the "poppers" savored by brew pub and ball-park crowds. A casserole of chilies baked in a cheese custard also qualifies for the name. Relleno is the Spanish word for stuffed. And the term chiles rellenos, here and in Mexico, covers a spectrum of imaginative dishes in which the "stuff" may be in, over, or around the chili.

Sunset readers regularly expand the chile relleno tradition, often by lowering the fat. In these four dishes, a baked filled chili is the common denominator.

Low-Fat Jalapeno Poppers

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 hour and 10 minutes

NOTES: Midge Stapleton of Anacortes, Washington, often starts these appetizers 1 day ahead. Complete the recipe through step 3; cover and chill poppers. To serve, uncover and continue.

MAKES: 28 pieces

1/2 cup (4 oz.) fat-free cream cheese or neufchatel (light) cream cheese 2 teaspoons minced garlic 1/3 cup minced green onions 3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese 1 tablespoon lime juice About 3/4 pound fresh jalapeno chilies (14 or 15, equal-size), rinsed 2 large egg whites 1 cup cornflake crumbs

1. In a bowl, use a fork to blend cream cheese, garlic, onions, cheddar cheese, and lime juice.

2. Wearing rubber gloves, cut chilies in half lengthwise. With a knife, cut seed lump from beneath the stem inside each chili, leaving stem end in place (to form a cup). Pull out and discard veins. Fill chili halves equally with cheese mixture, spreading surface smooth.

3. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until slightly frothy. Put cornflake crumbs in another small bowl. Dip filled chili halves, 1 at a time, in egg whites, then roll in crumbs. Set chilies slightly apart on a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet, filling the sheet.

4. Bake in a 350 [degrees] oven until crumbs are slightly darker brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Per piece: 28 cal., 9.6% (2.7 cal.) from fat; 1.5 g protein; 0.3 g fat (0.2 g sat.); 4.8 g carbo (0.2 g fiber); 79 mg sodium; 1.2 mg chol.

Potato Cheese Chilies

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 13/4 hours

NOTES: Barbara Schack of Medford, Oregon, stuffs chilies with seasoned mashed potatoes. You can mash fresh potatoes or use frozen or instant. To get maximum space for stuffing, select straight poblano chilies.

MAKES: 4 servings

2 cups mashed potatoes, hot or cold (see notes)

1/2 cup fresh chevre (goat) cheese

1/2 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies

1 tablespoon chopped green onion

Salt

About 1 pound fresh poblano chilies (also called pasillas; 6 to 8, equal-size), rinsed

Bell pepper salsa (recipe follows) or 1 cup purchased red salsa

1. In a bowl, use a fork or mixer to blend potatoes, chevre, [not sign] cup cotija, canned chilies, onion, and salt to taste.

2. Wearing rubber gloves, cut poblanos in half lengthwise. With a knife, cut seed lump from beneath the stem inside each chili, leaving stem end in place (to form a cup). Pull out and discard veins. Fill chilies equally with potato mixture. Set chilies in an oiled 9- by 13-inch casserole, filling it. Cover tightly with foil.

3. Bake in a 350 [degrees] oven for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining [not sign] cup cotija, and return to oven. Bake until stuffing is dotted with brown, 20 to 25 minutes longer.

4. Serve chilies with a wide spatula. Add salsa and salt to taste.

Per serving: 358 cal., 48% (171 cal.) from fat; 17 g protein; 19 g fat (10 g sat.); 33 g carbo (4.5 g fiber); 1,094 mg sodium: 38 mg chol.

Bell pepper salsa. In an 8- or 9-inch square pan, combine 1 cup coarsely chopped firm-ripe tomatoes, 1 cup coarsely chopped red bell peppers, 2 cloves chopped garlic, and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Cover tightly with foil.

Bake in a 350 [degrees] oven until tomatoes mash easily, 50 to 60 minutes. Pour vegetable mixture into a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, 1/3 cup chopped green onions, 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, and [not sign] teaspoon sugar. Whirl until coarsely pureed. Add salt to taste. Makes 1 cup.

Per 1/4 cup: 33 cal., 36% (12 cal.) from fat; 0.9 g protein; 1.3 g fat (0.2 g sat.); 5.1 g carbo (1.3 g fiber); 6.8 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Chicken and Cheese Chilies

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/2 hours

NOTES: Steve Tomasek of Castle Rock, Colorado, fills poblanos with shredded chicken, cheese, and vegetables.

MAKES; 5 or 6 servings

2 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (3/4 lb. total), each cut into quarters

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped tomato

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies

1 1/4 cups (5 oz.) shredded jack cheese with chilies

About 1 pound fresh poblano chilies (also called pasillas; 6 to 8, equal-size), rinsed

Creme fraiche or sour cream

Salt

1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. In a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat, combine chicken, onion, tomato, oil, garlic, and cumin. Stir often until chicken is slightly pink in center of thickest part (cut to test), 6 to 10 minutes.

2. Let stand until chicken is cool enough to touch, then tear meat into shreds. Return to pan. Add bell pepper, canned chilies, and cheese; mix.

3. Wearing rubber gloves, cut poblanos in half lengthwise. With a knife, cut seed lump from beneath the stem inside each chili, leaving stem end in place (to form a cup). Pull out and discard veins.

4. Mound chicken mixture equally in chili halves. Set chilies in an oiled 9- by 13-inch casserole, filling it. Cover tightly with foil.

5. Bake in a 375 [degrees] oven until the poblanos are tender when pierced, about 35 minutes.

6. Serve chilies with a spatula. Add creme fraiche and salt to taste.

Per serving: 211 cal., 47% (99 cal.) from fat; 21 g protein; 11 g fat (4.7 g sat.); 9.4 g carbo (1.4 g fiber); 316 mg sodium; 58 mg chol.

Beef and Jack Chiles Rellenos

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 50 minutes

NOTES: James Hayes of Ridgecrest, California, suggests any tender cut of grilled or roasted beef for this casserole. Garnish with chopped tomatoes and cilantro.

MAKES: 5 or 6 servings

2 cans (7 oz. each) whole green chilies 1/2 pound thin-sliced jack cheese 1/4 pound fat-trimmed cooked roast beef, cut into 1/16- to 1/8-inch-thick slices 6 large eggs 1 cup low-fat milk 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 2 cloves garlic, peeled About 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup shredded jack cheese Purchased avocado and chili salsa

1. Count chilies and divide sliced cheese and beef into as many portions. Roll each portion of cheese around a portion of beef and stuff into a chili. Lay chilies side by side in an oiled shallow 9- by 13-inch casserole.

2. In a blender, whirl eggs, milk, flour, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to blend. Pour over chilies.

3. Bake in a 350 [degrees] oven for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded jack cheese and continue to bake until egg mixture no longer jiggles around chilies when casserole is gently shaken, about 2 minutes more.

4. Scoop onto plates and add salsa and salt to taste.

Per serving: 328 cal., 55% (180 cal.) from fat; 25 g protein; 20 g fat (10 g sat.); 11 g carbo (0.9 g fiber); 929 mg sodium; 276 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Author:Johnson, Elaine
Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1999
Words:1340
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