After setting up shop one day, watching the Olympic curling and hockey games, and enjoying another great meal (and too many margaritas), I figured that I had nothing to lose and meandered into the kitchen. This likely could have gone badly... but they had all been so great that I hoped it wouldn't and crept in. The chef assistant's waved frantically to the chef... he looked up and came over to me.
I do not speak any Spanish aside from greetings and "dos cervezas." hahah. This was going to be interesting. I said that I wanted to learn how to make chiles rellenos. "Chiles Rellenos," he repeats. I pointed at him and said, "professore" then to myself and said, "studente." He laughed. I added, "a meñana." Lots of nodding and smiles... he replies, "a dos hora."
SUCCESS!! I had a cooking lesson!! I was so unbelievably excited that I immediately texted some friends to share my foodie-nerdy-news.
Chiles Rellenos a Medano
Chihuahua cheese... or mozzarella or monteray jack... something good and melty, grated
Scant amount of flour
Heat your oil.
First job is to prepare the peppers... In Chef Adan's kitchen, he fried the pepper for a few minutes, until the skin started to peel away from the flesh. You could also drop the pepper into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, then shock it in cold to loosen the skin. The water method would take a bit longer and you have to be cautious of overcooking the pepper too much and turning it to mush.
Once you see the skin pull away from the flesh, rinse the pepper under cold water and peel the skin away entirely. During this flash cooking process, the chile seemed to naturally crack in one spot. Insert your thumb through this crack and lengthen it to clean the pith and seeds from the inside of the pepper. Set the pepper aside.
Now to the batter... Separate two eggs. (Two eggs is enough for two large chiles. The peppers that we get here are much smaller, it seems, so you could probably cover four or more with two eggs worth of batter.) Whisk the eggs whites until they reach the hard peaks stage. Chef Adan held the bowl over top of his assistant's head to illustrate. hahah. Once the whites are firm, then add the two yolks back in. Stir together but don't deflate the whites. Add a scant, maybe a teaspoon, bit of flour to the batter.
Fill the pepper with the grated cheese. Dredge the pepper in the batter, holding it by the stem. With a quick flick of the wrist, flip to the open side and seal in the cheese.
Turn on your broiler.
Now slide the battered chile into the hot oil and let it bubble away happily. Flip the chile, if it isn't browning on all sides. Cook to a golden brown, then remove to a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess oil. This whole process only takes a few minutes but watch the pepper closely. The oil is H.O.T. and will burn the pepper just as fast as it cooks it.
To finish the pepper... Top the pepper with a light tomato sauce. Almost like a Mexican marinara. I will probably sub in puree of a good salsa. Top with a bit more cheese and place under the broiler. Once the cheese melts and browns slightly, you are ready to serve!
You can experiment with your own fillings... add meat (a crucial missing component according to one friend)... add veg... whatever.
As I finished, the chefs were all smiling. I walked out of the kitchen with my prize and the wait staff were clapping. Hilarious. I then sat with the owner, who took this photo of me (one on my camera and one for himself), as I enjoyed the fruits of my labour. He refused to let me pay anything. It was such an amazing experience...
Chef Adan and I..