Chile Relleno Casserole

Classic chiles rellenos are green chiles, blackened and outer skin removed, stuffed with either cheese or a pork sausage picadillo, dipped in batter, fried in oil, and often served with a thin tomato sauce.

I grew up loving the chiles rellenos my mother made for us. The only problem is that they are a bit tricky to make; they can sometimes get soggy with the oil. And they can be a bit rich with all that frying.

This recipe for a chile relleno casserole skips the steps of dipping in batter and frying, and instead bakes the stuffed chiles in an egg batter. The recipe is based on one from Sunset Magazine; our main adjustment to the original is to include a tomato sauce base to the casserole. To us, chiles rellenos taste better with a light tomato sauce, and they do in this casserole as well.

Feel free to play around with the stuffing, Mexican chorizo is great for this, but we've also used hot Louisiana pork sausage. Or you can skip the pork all together and just use a jack cheese stuffing. Note that this casserole serves 8; you can easily cut the ingredients in half and use an 8x8 dish for the casserole.

Ingredients

  • 8 poblano chiles
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo (or other spicy sausage)
  • 1 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (can sub feta)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • One dozen eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup Monterey jack or mild cheddar cheese, shredded

Method

chile-relleno-cass-3.jpg 1 The first step is to char the outside skin of the poblano chiles. The easiest way to do that is directly over the flame of a gas burner (see How to Roast Chiles over a Gas Flame). You can also do that over a grill, or in a broiling pan under a broiler (don't use a thin baking sheet or it will warp under the high heat). Just put the chiles close enough to the heating element so they char and blister on the surface. Turn the chiles so that they get completely blackened all around. Place the blackened chiles in a bowl and cover with a plate or damp towel. Let the chiles steam in their own heat for several minutes.

2 While the chilies are cooling, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan, on medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Add the tomatoes (break up any whole tomatoes before adding to the pan). Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat to low. Gently simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

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3 Carefully peel and discard the blackened skin off of the chilies. Cut off the stem ends. Carefully remove the seed pod without tearing the chiles (which you will stuff later).

4 Put the Mexican chorizo in a large frying pan and set the heat to medium high. Break up the chorizo with the edge of a metal spatula as you cook it. Cook until cooked through, about 4 minutes.

5 Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread the tomato sauce over the bottom of an 8x12 inch baking dish. The tomato sauce should be the consistency of a thin spaghetti sauce. If it is too thick, thin it out with a little water.

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6 In a large bowl, mix together the stuffing of the cooked chorizo, cotija, and oregano. Stuff chiles with sausage mixture and place them on top of the tomato sauce in the baking dish.

7 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the eggs. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle chiles with half of the jack or cheddar cheese. Pour egg mixture over chiles and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

8 Bake until top starts to brown and the eggs are set but still soft, about 30 minutes.

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