This is a popular – often-asked-for – Mexican dish that I have prepared a number of times for private dinners. This version is filled with peak-of-season summer vegetables, including zucchini, crocked neck yellow squash and fresh corn. The filling can be altered as the seasons change: fall and winter calls for butternut squash and sweet potatoes, and leafy greens and for spring: spring onions, asparagus and fava beans. The cheeses can be changed as well to balance with the other filling ingredients.
Summer Squash Stuffed Chiles Rellenos with Red Sauce
For the Chiles:
5 large poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded (instructions below)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 zucchini squash, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 yellow crookneck squash, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 ear fresh corn, shucked, charred on an open flame, kernels removed
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
4 eggs, separated
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup crumbled Queso Fresco cheese, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
For the Red Sauce:
4 ripe Roma tomatoes, cored
1/2 onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 jalapeño peppers
Big pinch of kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• To roast the chiles: place the chiles directly on open flame either on stove top or grill turning frequently, until completely charred. NOTE: If you don’t have a gas stove this can also be done on a BBQ or under the broiler. Place chiles in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow chiles to steam for 10 minutes. Carefully peel the skins off the chiles (careful not to tear the flesh). Once peeled, make a slit down one side, and carefully remove seeds. Remove the seeds and coarsely chop ONE of the peppers. Sauté the squashes, corn and chopped poblanos together until soft, just 5 minutes. Gently fill each pepper with the squash/corn/pepper mixture and top off with the grated cheese. Use a toothpick to seal the opening.
• To prepare the red sauce: turn the broiler on high and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Place the whole tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeños on the pan and place under the broiler. Check every 2 – 3 minutes and turn the vegetables so the blacken on all sides. Remove each ingredient as it is done blackening. This should take anywhere from 10 – 15 minutes; remove the last of the vegetables and allow them all to cool. Remove the stem and skin from the jalapeños. If you are sensitive to heat you can remove the seeds of the peppers. Place all the blackened vegetables in a blender along with the salt, oregano, and the cup of water. Blend on high until smooth. Next, fry the sauce: Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the sauce and fry in the oil until the color deepens and the sauce is fragrant, about 2 – 3 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
• To make the batter: beat the egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium-high until they are stiff. Turn the mixer to low and add the yolks one at a time until they are completely incorporated. Add a generous pinch of salt and mix well. Heat the cup of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
• To batter the chiles: place the flour in shallow baking dish. Season generously with salt. Coat the chiles, one at a time, in the flour, dusting off any excess then dip the chiles into the mixing bowl and cover with the egg batter. Best to use a spoon to cover the chiles with the batter until they are thoroughly coated.
• To fry the chiles: once the oil is hot, add the chiles, two at a time. Adjust the oil temperature as they are cooking. If the oil starts to smoke, turn it down if it becomes too cool, turn up the heat. Once the chiles are golden brown on one side, flip using a fish spatula and cook until golden on the other side, and they are warmed-through, about 5 – 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel covered plate and repeat with the other two chiles.
• To Serve: spoon a puddle of the warm red sauce onto 4 serving plates. Carefully place one relleno on each plate with the slits facing up (remove the toothpicks). Crumble the Queso Fresco cheese on top; sprinkle with chopped cilantro, and serve immediately.