Recipe: chile rellenos
This isn’t really a petition because I know if we added 8 hours to the day, I would try to cram even more into a single day than I try to already. These long daylight hours lull us into a sense of “there’s plenty of time for x, y, and oh yeah – z!” It becomes the frenzy of summer. So I am in (more of) a frenzy now. But that’s good because it means I’m living my life.
Our best girl, Kaweah has slowed down in the past six months. I mentioned before that she is on a “diet” which means she gets fewer snacks and what snacks she gets are usually carrot bits instead of dog treats. In the spring, Kaweah weighed in at 64.5 pounds at the vet, which is the most she has ever weighed. She is 60 pounds on a fat day and 55 pounds in her svelte summer days. I chalked it up to my medical problems last year which distracted us from maintaining her typically active mountain dog lifestyle. Her weight is down to 60 and we’ve been taking her on walks and runs. She just can’t keep up on the runs anymore and Jeremy suspects she is becoming arthritic. Old dog is finally catching up with Crazy dog.
We recently hiked to the Continental Divide and decided to bring the pup, as hiking is her all time #1 favorite activity in the world (okay, #3 after eating, and rolling in dead things). We agreed that we would turn around at the first sign of trouble. Jeremy has carried Kaweah off of mountains in extreme conditions before.
columbines blooming streamside
She never let up. I think the backcountry is as invigorating for Kaweah as it is for me. She was like her old self but better behaved! We took her up to the lake and she had her inaugural frozen swim and loved it.
slowly thawing at 12,000 feet
treat? treat? treat? treat?
On the way back, she was slow and when we stopped to chat with a ranger, Kaweah decided to lie down in frog position on the trail instead of licking the pants of the ranger and acting crazy per her usual MO. She made it out just fine and slept the rest of the day. It’s hard to gauge how much is just being out of shape and needing to develop her calluses versus old age. When we got home we ordered a high-angle rescue dog harness so we can carry her out with ease if ever the time should come. I hope not, but I think gone are the days when I could take her for an 18-mile hike. The goal is to make sure she’s healthy and happy.
And while we’re on the topic of healthy and happy, I had another one of my crazy plants bloom! Last year I was elated when my night-blooming cereus delivered three blossoms. This is a “family” plant. My grandmother hand-carried (illegally?) a leaf cutting from Taiwan over to the US decades ago and started a plant. Each of her daughters has at least one plant from that original, and I got one when we moved into our first house. Two years ago, my aunt delivered another leaf cutting to me per Grandma’s request. “But I already have one,” I informed Elena. “This one is different,” she smiled. It bloomed yesterday and it is stunning. You can see a series of shots from last night here.
I’m reaching into the archives for a recipe to share. I have enough recipes lined up that I could die today and as long as Jeremy published the recipes, you’d never be the wiser for a couple of months at least. Several months back I defrosted all of the roasted Hatch green chiles my aunt had given me in October, and went about peeling and de-seeding them. The torn ones got diced up for all manner of recipes, but the whole ones were set aside for one of my favorite dishes: chile rellenos.
whole chiles more or less intact after peeling and de-seeding
I had really amazing chile rellenos in downtown LA at a joint off the 110 Freeway where the risk of death by drive-by shooting was ridiculously high. It’s no longer open because the sweet couple that ran the place retired. Since then, I had naively thought all chile rellenos were equal. Not so. I cannot abide by the ones with seeds left in, some use crappy cheese, others have horrid batter, some don’t use Hatch green chiles. But you can control all of that when you make them yourself.
stuffing with cheese
Do you have to use Hatch green chiles? No. You can use other varieties like Anaheim or poblano, but if you have Hatch, why not use them? Also, I lopped off the tops before I knew I was going to make chile rellenos, so in the future, I’ll try to leave the tops on so I have something to hold when dipping the chiles. My fear of frying is slowly abating, but I was nervous about all of the cheese leaking out and frying away. So I sealed the chiles shut with toothpicks only to find after the first batch that I didn’t need to worry. You don’t have to use toothpicks, just fold the chile flesh over the cheese as best you can.
ready for a batter bath
I used a batter recipe from The Border Cookbook, which is probably my favorite book on New Mexican cooking. It gets the seal of approval from all of the New Mexicans I know (including Jeremy). Two things drew me to the batter: 1) beer (always good sign for batters) and 2) folding whipped egg whites.
floured then dipped
Pan-frying is much less stressful for me than deep frying. These turned a lovely golden color and I let them drain on a baking rack rather than paper towels to keep them crisp rather than soggy. It’s a trick I learned from Amy.
fry until golden then flip and fry some more
Jeremy, native son of New Mexico, was never a huge fan of chile rellenos. This is probably because he had some with seeds once and just turned them down ever since. But I made him try one and he eventually ate several, thus restoring that part of his home state heritage. I think this is a recurring theme: Jeremy dislikes X from bad childhood memories and we fix it here on use real butter. The chile rellenos, while not quite as awesome as the ones I ate while fearing for my life in LA, had a zing from the chiles and the beer (in the batter) that mellowed with the creamy cheese and eggs. It’s perfect with some salsa on top. And Jeremy can walk through Albuquerque with head held high once again.
chile rellenos, best served hot
slightly modified from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison
8 oz. mild cheddar cheese, grated (I left them in sticks)
8 whole large green chiles, preferably New Mexican Big Jims (or 12 smaller green chiles), roasted, slit from end to end, deseeded
vegetable oil for frying
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup beer (or water)
Stuff each chile with a stick of cheese and fold the chile over the cheese. Combine the flour, salt, and egg yolks in a bowl and slowly stir in the beer (or water) until it is mixed. Beat the egg whites to medium-stiff peaks and fold them into the batter thoroughly. Heat four inches of oil (I used a little less) in a skillet to about 350°F. Set a chile in the batter and spoon more batter over it until completely coated (no exposed areas). Let excess batter drip off into the batter bowl. Fry chiles for about 4-5 minutes until golden. Flip over and fry until evenly golden. Drain the chiles on a baking rack and serve hot.