Chiles Rellenos with Salsa Ranchera (made with Hatch Chiles)

 

Chiles Rellenos

Chiles Rellenos made from Hatch Chiles

 

August and September are Hatch Chile months.

And what are hatch chiles? Well, they look a lot like Anaheim chiles, which are light green in color and rather large. However, Robert Schueller of Melissa’s produce described hatch chiles as the “grandfather” whilst the Anaheim is like the “grandchild.”  Additionally, hatch chiles have a much thicker skin, making them great for roasting and even freezing. I had never thought to freeze roasted chiles or peppers!

These particular mild-medium heat chiles hail from New Mexico, but you can find them in local markets during the months of August and September. As a matter of fact, I just saw them advertised in the Sprouts weekly ads, so I’m off the pick some up this weekend and have my own Hatch Chile Roasting event with our backyard barbecue grill!

Hatch Chiles

Roasted Hatch Chiles

If you want to attend a live hatch chile roasting event, Melissa’s Produce offers a schedule of dates and locations.

Anyhow, after my Camp Blogaway experience and the contacts I made, I found myself invited to attend a Hatch Chile Lunch at Melissa’s Produce, at which the hosts provided us yummy foods made from hatch chiles with recipes from the new Hatch Chile cookbook presented by Melissa’s Produce.

In addition, we walked away from the event with the cookbook and both dried and frozen hatch chiles to test out a few recipes.

The most unique item on the lunch menu included hatch chile ice cubes! How clever!! What a way to literally spice up your party drinks. Just use a food processor to chop up two hatch chiles, mix with six cups of water, let sit for about 5 minutes, then freeze in your ice cube trays. Voila–spicy ice cubes. The people at Melissa’s served them with ginger ale and lemonade. As they begin to melt, your drink takes on a slight kick of heat that actually complements both drinks (I taste-tested both).

The lunch event opened my eyes to the possibilities of using chiles to add an element of sassiness to a variety of foods, ranging from ice cubes to sweet treats such as cookies to breakfast/lunch/dinner fare and even to nut & pretzel snack mixes. Who knew a chile could provide such versatility? (I took tons of pictures but cannot find the memory card with the images–ARGH!!)

With a cookbook full of recipes to try and some frozen hatch chiles in my freezer, I perused the variety of options and decided on Chiles Rellenos, which hubby requested I make many months ago. They ended up being a lot less work than I had anticipated, in part due to the pre-roasted and frozen chiles (such a bonus!). By the way, you can attend Hatch fire-roasting chile events in the months of August and September (check out this schedule of locations and dates).

I also used some of the chiles to make a Salsa Ranchero recipe from the cookbook to accompany the Chiles Rellenos. You can easily use your food processor to pulse the salsa a bit more if you want a less chunky consistency. All in all, we both enjoyed the Chile Rellenos: mild chiles, cheesy interior, crunchy coating, and slightly spicy salsa to top it all off.

Chiles Rellenos with Salsa Ranchera

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INGREDIENTS

Chiles Rellenos

  • 12 large Hatch Chiles, roasted, peeled, and left whole
  • 1 pound cheddar, Jack, or queso blanco cheese, shredded
  • 4 large eggs, well chilled and separated
  • 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Salsa Ranchera

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 Hatch Chiles, roasted, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup chicken broth

DIRECTIONS

Chiles Rellenos

  1. Methods to roast chiles: To roast over an open flame, use long-handled tongs to hold the chile over a medium flame, turning until evenly charred (I’ve done this over the flame on the stove before). To roast on a barbecue grill, heat the grill until hot. Roast chiles over the direct heat until they are blackened and blistered all over. To roast under a broiler, preheat broiler to high. Arrange chiles in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and set under broiler. Roast until blackened and blistered all over, turning so all sides get roasted.
  2. Once chiles are roasted, cool using one of the following methods: Transfer roasted chiles to a paper bag, roll the top down, and allow to cool. Or, transfer roasted chiles to a pan or bowl and cover with a tight-fitting lid, a damp towel, or with plastic wrap.
  3. Once chiles are cool enough to handle, the skins will easily peel off. For chiles rellenos, leave the stem intact, cut a lengthwise slit up one side of each chile (careful, though, to not cut through the tip end), and delicately remove the seeds so you don’t tear the chile.
  4. Fill the slit chiles with cheese and use toothpicks to hold the chiles closed.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  6. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and egg yolks; mix until completely incorporated.
  7. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a large, deep skillet over medium heat (I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet). Working in batches, dip the stuffed peppers into the batter and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
  8. Serve with Salsa Ranchera.

Salsa Ranchera

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, cooking until translucent and softened.
  2. Add garlic; saute one minute (don’t allow garlic to brown or it will taste bitter).
  3. Add chiles; saute for 3 more minutes.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, then add cumin and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Dissolve cornstarch in the chicken broth. Add broth to pan and bring salsa to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer; cook salsa for 10 minutes or until thickened to your desired level of thickness. (Since I prefer my salsa less chunky, I process mine in the food processor to my desired consistency.)

SOURCE: Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook

Spicy Refried Beans (Stovetop or Crockpot)

Homemade refried beans–easy, easy, easy! Basically, just dump pinto beans into a pot and simmer in water for a few hours, then add a few spices and salt and voila!

Seriously, it’s that easy.

Okay, so you have to blend it, too. Still easy.

The beans taste quite bland until enough salt is added, so don’t ignore this ingredient. However, add it gradually until the desired taste to suit your buds.

I sauteed finely chopped onions and minced garlic to enhance flavor in addition to the salt. I also sprinkled on some cumin and added some red pepper and paprika to kick up the spiciness. Next time I make this I might try simmering in chicken or veggie stock to see how that impacts the flavor.

Originally, I made this in the summer for the Mexican-themed party we had. Simmering 5 cups of beans makes waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much refried beans for 15 guests! Guess what we ate for days and days and days…

I did go for variety, though, by making a batch of 7-layer dip, tostadas, and refried bean taquitos with the mega leftovers. And I even packed some of it in a Ziploc bag and froze it, which tasted just fine once thawed. Now that was a happy discovery, for it means I can still make large batches and freeze most of it for later use.

Spicy Refried Beans (Stovetop or Crockpot)

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups dry pinto beans
  • 3 quarts water (9 cups for crock pot method)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 cup water
  • salt to taste (use 5 tsp. for crock pot method)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the dried beans in water, making sure to get rid of any dirt.
  2. Add beans to a Dutch oven or large pot and cover with water–about 4 inches above the beans.
  3. Cook the beans for 2 1/2 hours by bringing the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook covered. Check periodically to make sure water isn’t completely absorbed; otherwise, beans will burn. For crock pot, combine all ingredients and cook on high for 8 hours.
  4. Once beans are cooked, drain and reserve excess water.
  5. In a large skillet, add olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions along with the red pepper flakes, paprika, cayenne pepper, and cumin for about 5 minutes. Add to drained beans along with 1 cup of the reserved water. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend beans until desired consistency, adding more water as needed.
  6. Season with salt as needed (unless you included salt in the crock pot). It will take 2 or more tbsp.
  7. Serve with your favorite toppings: diced tomatoes, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole…

Yield: about 6 cups

SOURCE: adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking and The Curvy Carrot and Real Mom Kitchen

Creamy Chicken (or Black Bean) Taquitos

Lest you think all we eat in our house are desserts, I thought I’d better post something savory rather than sweet that serves as a main dish. Hence, today I bring you taquitos, something I’ve loved ever since I can remember. I never imagined I would be able to make my own, as is the case with many of the dishes I’ve been making lately, so I am thrilled to have this recipe in my repertoire.

Anyhow, these aren’t quite like the taquitos I grew up loving–you know, the hard shell tightly wrapped around a thin sliver of supposedly beef but looking more like shreds  of brown string and deep fried to greasy perfection? Yes, I loved those. Especially slathered in creamy guacamole.

However, my now-matured taste buds know what a disgusting farce those are. And besides, I much prefer having control over what I wrap those tortillas around.

The original recipe calls for chicken, but during the summer, we had a Mexican-themed party and I had a ton of Mashed Black Beans and homemade refried beans leftover, so I adapted the recipe to suit my leftovers. And oh my, how tasty those turned out. I’ve made taquitos since with chicken but, truthfully, I prefer the black bean version.

So, below I’ll share the original recipe as well as my adaptation. Whatever you choose, I highly recommend these. They are easy, yummy, and even freeze well for cooking later on–straight from the freezer.

Creamy Chicken (or Black Bean) Taquitos

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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 oz. cream cheese (1/3 cup), softened
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice (I freeze lime juice by the tablespoons in ice cube trays, then store them in Ziploc bags–very convenient)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (or two cups Mashed Black Beans or any combo of beans and meat)
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese (or cheese of your choice)
  • 10-12 (6-inch) flour tortillas (I prefer the corn tortillas)
  • cooking spray
  • kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, spices, cilantro, green onions, chicken, and shredded cheese. Mix until well combined.
  3. Briefly heat the tortillas in the microwave to soften them enough to roll easily, about 20-30 seconds (I heated them two at a time). Place a tortilla on a work surface, and spoon 2-3 tbsp. of filling slightly below the middle of each tortilla. Roll the tortilla tightly around the filling. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling, spacing the assembled taquitos evenly on the baking sheet. (Note: If you want to freeze instead of bake, transfer baking sheet to the freezer and chill the assembled taquitos 30-60 minutes. Transfer to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. To bake from freezer, simply add a few minutes to the original baking time, until the filling is warmed through.)
  4. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and/or salsa, if desired.

Yield: 12 taquitos

SOURCE: Annie’s Eats via Pennies on a Platter via Our Best Bites

Restaurant-Style Salsa–Quick and Easy!

Open a few cans of tomatoes.

Chop a jalapeno. And some onion.

Mince a clove of garlic.

Toss in a few spices. And some cilantro.

Squeeze in a bit of lime.

Pulse several times in a food processor.

Open a bag of chips.

Indulge to your heart’s content.

Now, how easy is that? Seriously, it’s the easiest recipe I’ve encountered for a totally kick-butt salsa.

It far surpasses the recipe I’ve used for the past few years, it’s way easier, and it tastes like the salsa you find at really great Mexican restaurants.

And I can make it chunky for hubby then pull out a portion for me and pulse it to a finer consistency (that way I don’t have to taste the chunks of onions).

I’m tossing my former go-to recipe in favor of this one–that’s how much I LOVE this salsa.

Restaurant-Style Salsa

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes (peeled) with juice
  • 2 (10-oz) cans Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, quartered and thinly sliced (for milder salsa, remove seeds and membrane)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (or more to taste)
  • juice from 1/2 fresh lime if large; whole if small
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor. Pulse to desired consistency.

SOURCES: Brown-Eyed Baker and The Pioneer Woman

Mexican Rice

I made tacos tonight and wanted Mexican rice to go with it. Until now, every recipe I tried for Mexican rice just tasted too bland…or too mushy…or not spicy enough… I felt like Goldilocks on the search for perfection.

Then I came across this recipe, and the unusual step of pureeing the onions and tomatoes and adding it to the broth sold me. That means the rice would really absorb those flavors. And indeed it does. A winner. A keeper. Perfection for Goldilocks.

For  just two of us, this recipe was way too much. I need to cut it in half next time. However, with all those leftovers, I enjoyed rice and cheese burritos for a few nights in a row :  )

Mexican Rice

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled, trimmed and quartered
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 3 medium jalapenos, ribbed, seeded and minced (I used the ones from the can…don’t know if this recipe means canned or uncooked ones…3 makes it spicy…after making this several times, I eventually used 1/2 of one large one)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and move a rack to the middle position.
  2. Process tomatoes and onions in the food processor until smooth and thoroughly pureed, about 15 seconds, scraping down the bowl if necessary.  Transfer the mixture to a liquid measuring cup; you should have 2 cups (if necessary, spoon off excess or add water so that the volume equals 2 cups).
  3. Place the rice in a large fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Shake rice vigorously in strainer to remove all excess water.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the rice and fry, stirring frequently, until it is golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium; add the garlic and minced jalapenos; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  6. Stir in pureed tomatoes and onions, chicken broth, tomato paste and salt; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
  7. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven; bake until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.
  8. Stir in cilantro (if desired) and serve with lime wedges.

SOURCE: Annie’s Eats

Leftover-Meat Tacos

Whenever we have any leftover meat–chicken, beef, or pork–I cut it up into small pieces, toss it into a Ziploc bag, and store it in the freezer. These leftovers then make for a quick taco meal on those nights when we don’t have energy to cook anything more strenuous and time consuming.

I love having a use for leftovers, especially when it makes an entirely new meal that pleases the belly. These tacos accomplish just that.

The first time I made tacos using this method, hubby went ga ga. We both overstuffed ourselves. Yum city. And now he asks me to make them…often. Only problem: I need leftover meat! So now we purposely do not eat all of the steak…or chicken…or pork…that is served for dinner. We intentionally leave some to chop up for taco meals.

The tacos come together fairly quickly and easily even though you fry the corn tortillas to make your own shells. But the homemade shells are one of the best parts of this process: crunchy and chewy at the same time, not susceptible to breakage like the store-bought variety, and they are fresh.

Be forewarned: the potential for overstuffing yourself is a high risk factor with these tacos. Proceed at your own risk :  )

P.S. Keep a bowl of ice/water nearby in case you accidentally stick your finger in the hot oil, as I did (silly me!); either that or don’t make tacos when you are really, really, really tired!

Tacos (Using Leftover Meat)

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INGREDIENTS

Taco Shells

  • canola oil (just enough to cover bottom of pan and come up the sides about 1/4 of an inch or so)
  • 6-inch corn tortillas

Filling

  • meat filling, cut up into small pieces

Toppings

  • iceberg lettuce (or any other variety; even green cabbage works), thinly sliced
  • cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • tomatoes, finely diced
  • sour crem
  • avocado, chopped
  • onion, finely chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • taco sauce or salsa

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oil in small cast-iron skillet (8-inches or so) over medium heat until shimmering hot, about 5 minutes (should be about 350 degrees F). It’s important to use the cast-iron skillet, for it heats the oil hotter than any other type of pan. Oil readiness test: drop small piece of tortilla into oil, which should bubble and rise to surface within two seconds.
  2. Fry one tortilla at a time, about 10 seconds on each side, using tongs to turn tortilla over, then place on plate lined with paper towels. No need to place paper between each tortilla; just stack ‘em up. This quick dip in the hot oil creates malleable tortillas that won’t break/tear when folding and filling.
  3. Now fold tortilla in half and fill with as much meat as desired (no need to reheat meat as it will heat up in the hot oil fry step).
  4. Using tongs, place tortillas in the oil, frying 2-3 tacos at a time. Fry on one side until golden brown, about 1 1/2–2 minutes, then flip over and repeat process on other side. Remove from pan and place on towel-lined plate to soak up excess oil.
  5. Now it’s time to fill the tortillas with toppings of your choice and enjoy the feast! Beware of overeating, for these are delicioso!

Serve with authentic-style Mexican Rice

 

Note: I’ve been told that these fare well when wrapped up in foil and reheated the next day, sans toppings, that is. We’ve never tested that out because we eat ‘em all up.

SOURCE: my dear friend Marion

Black Bean & Tortilla Pie (masquerading as a casserole)

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie…hmmmm, that sounded like an interesting recipe to try. How cool to just layer the tortillas in a springform pan with the filling and cheese in between. Sounded fun. Reviews sounded yummy. Pictures looked appetizing. And we love Mexican food. So that was tonight’s new experiment.

I just love it when the experiments turn into keepers and new favorites. This one ranks up there, for sure. It’s quick, easy, uses ingredients we often have on hand, and best of all, tastes so delicious I filled my plate up for seconds and got to that overly-stuffed status, you know, the one that makes you feel guilty for overeating yet satisfied because  it tastes so good in the belly?

I had to make a few adjustments, though, which didn’t seem to affect the overall result. First of all, I wanted to use the small corn tortillas rather than the large flour tortillas, so there went the cool look of a layered round pie since the tortillas were too small for the springform pan. No worries, I just layered in a casserole dish instead.

Second, I didn’t have cilantro. I’ll have to wait until next time (and there will definitely be a next time) to see if that impacts the flavor much.

Third, I added a can of diced green chiles–my favorite go-to for adding a kick-in-the-pants flavor to Mexican dishes and various soups.

Fourth, I got preoccupied working on this blog (still new and figuring it out), so when the oven timer went off–right next to me, mind you, as I was working at the kitchen counter trying to understand how to navigate this blog site–I let the casserole bake 5 minutes longer. Well, sometimes when we err–or rather, don’t pay attention to baking times and buzzer signals–it actually results in pleasant surprises, for the extra baking time created a crunchy texture to the tortilla.

I was sorely tempted to add a can of diced tomatoes as this was cooking in the pan. It just didn’t feel complete without tomatoes. So glad I decided to follow the recipe basics because it was mouth-wateringly delish.

Although I didn’t add salsa on the final product, I did liberally spoon on sour cream–not to the point of drowning the casserole, though : )  Oh my, the creaminess of that sour cream so enhanced the crunchiness of the overbaked tortilla–heavenly!! Really, I think that is what drove me to seconds.

If we had avocados or guacamole on hand, I think that would have added another dimension of heavenly.

I highly recommend trying this recipe. One of the better recipes I’ve made, for sure!

And it made great leftovers for lunch the next day…yum!

Black Bean & Tortilla Casserole

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 (10-inch) flour tortillas for the “pie” version (I used ten 6-inch corn tortillas, layered in a 9X13 casserole dish)
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and diced (here is a use for the jalapenos left over from the juice used for the burrito recipe posted in the previous entry)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (4-oz) can diced chiles
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 (15-oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2-4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 8-16 oz. Mexican queso fresco cheese, shredded (or whatever type of cheese you have on hand)
  • salsa, sour cream, and/or avocados, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. If using springform pan to make tortilla pie version, use bottom of pan as guide to trim edges of tortilla so they fit into pan. If using 9X13 casserole dish, layer tortillas (I actually broke mine in half so I wouldn’t have too much overlapping).
  3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft, 5-10 minutes. Add jalapeño, diced chiles, cumin, chile powder, salt, and pepper; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add beans and broth to skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until most of liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.
  5. Mix in corn, scallions, and cilantro; remove from heat.
  6. Layer: tortillas, bean mixture, cheese. Repeat as needed (probably 3 layers for pie version; 2 for casserole version). Finish with beans and cheese on top.
  7. Bake until cheese is melted and the mixture is heated through, about 20-25 minutes (longer if you want crunchy texture).
  8. Remove from oven. Garnish with remaining scallions, cilantro, and serve with your choice of salsa, sour cream, and/or avocado.

SOURCE: adapted from Pink Parsley Catering, who adapted from Annie’s Eats, who originally adapted from Liz’s Cooking Blog