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How-To

How to Make Chiles Rellenos

A Step-by-Step Guide to Stuffing and Frying this Mexican Classic

Sarah Breckenridge; videography by Gary Junken and Michael Dobsevage; edited by Michael Dobsevage
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Fried in a fluffy batter and served with roasted tomato sauce, these stuffed poblano chiles are a Mexican Classic. In this video, Shelley Wiseman demonstrates Maricel Presilla’s recipe for Chiles Rellenos.

Recipe and text by Maricel Presilla, demonstrated by Fine Cooking’s Shelley Wiseman

Take a fresh, mildly spicy poblano chile, stuff it with a savory-sweet meat filling (or just about anything else—more on that later), fry it in a light, fluffy batter, serve it with tangy tomato sauce, and you’ve got a chile relleno. A quintessential Mexican specialty, this dish is actually an amalgam of several cultures. It comes from a family of stuffed vegetable dishes popularized by Islamic cooks in southern Spain. The Spaniards brought the technique to Mexico, where it flourished, spawning all kinds of regional interpretations. Most versions, including mine, are a labor of love, with complex layers of flavor achieved through several steps, but the sublime results are worth the effort.

From ground meats to sausage to cheese, the filling ingredients vary all over Mexico. My own version was inspired by Cuban picadillo, a sweet-and-savory dish made with ground beef. True to the dish’s Spanish and Islamic antecedents, my recipe includes both fruit and nut flavors, in the form of raisins and almonds.

The finished chiles rellenos are served with a bright, tangy roasted tomato sauce that balances out the richness of the filling. The airy fried batter absorbs the sauce, tying all the elements of the dish together—it’s the delicious result of centuries of history and culinary collaboration.

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