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Heirloom Recipes

Chiles Rellenos Autentico

Grill or broil your favorite stuffing chile (I use poblano or anaheim) until the skin blisters. Let them cool in a paper bag to help the skin peel off more easily.

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I can’t claim a Mexican bloodline but my step-father of many years was a first-generation Mexican American and as a result I was raised on his family’s traditional recipes. 

His father immigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area from Mexico and settled in the East Bay city of Richmond, which at the time was a rural farming community best known for its train depot and agriculture. In his backyard he grew every fruit and vegetable imaginable from a sky-high banana tree to an olive grove. However, by the 1980s when I was a kid visiting every weekend, the inner city had filled in around his kitchen garden oasis. I vividly remember each visit. Beans and rice were perpetually warming on the stovetop and we’d be served something delicious like these Chile Rellenos.

I’m no cook — my wife does all the meal prep in our house — but over the last decade this is the one recipe that I’ve strived to master. It’s relatively true to the original, but I’d appreciate any recommendations or advice to improve my version.


4 poblano chiles (or Anaheim)
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
5 egg whites, whipped
1 egg yolk
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups canola oil


Roast the chiles on an open grill or in the broiler until the skins blister. Then place the chiles in a paper bag for 15 minutes to steam; this makes it a lot easier to peel off the skin. Remove the chile tops and seeds (the more seeds the spicier ), and stuff.

The filling featured in the above photos is strictly cheese, though my wife and I often experiement with different ingredients. A more healthy filling uses 1 part cheese and 1 part soft tofu. You can also add chopped red peppers, onions and salt. Once stuffed, roll the chiles in flour to help the egg batter stick.

In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff, then fold in one or two egg yellows. I never really measure, just aim for an even light yellow color.

Deep frying the chile takes practice but I’ve come up with a technique that is relatively fool proof. Drop a dollop of batter into the hot oil skillet and place the chile on top. Then add a second dollop on top of the chile. Carefully roll until all sides are an even golden brown. Remove from the skillet and place the finished relleno on a stack of towels to soak up the excess oil.

We serve these buffet style with a plate of corn or flour toritillas, refried beans, sour cream, salsa, and diced tomatoes.


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