Chiles rellenos with panela cheese and epazote


November 15, 2012Recipes15 Comments

I love eating chiles rellenos, but I haven’t quite figured out yet how to make them a quick job. I usually like to stuff them with beans, and I always forget to soak my beans the night before. Plus I feel compelled to do the capeado if I’m relleno-ing a chile, and sometimes I don’t want to whip egg whites on a Tuesday, you know?

That’s what I love about these panela-stuffed chiles: the simplicity. All you do is char the poblanos on the comal, peel off the skin and scrape out the seeds, cut some panela slices and sprinkle them with fresh epazote, and then put them inside your chile. The cheese slices don’t even have to fit! Actually, it’s better if they don’t, because then the cheese gets sort of melty and soft out the sides.

You pan-fry the stuffed chile in a mix of butter and lard, or butter and olive oil. The butter is key — it draws out the poblano’s natural buttery notes.

I made these on a weeknight and ate the leftovers the rest of the week. My love affair with the Poblano pepper continues.

Chile Rellenos with Panela Cheese & Epazote
Makes 4

4 poblano peppers
8 oz./200g panela cheese cut into 1/4″-1/2″ slices
2 sprigs epazote (about 18 leaves), chopped
2 teaspoons lard
20g (about 2 pats) butter


To prepare the peppers: Rinse poblano peppers and dry them well with paper towels or a dish cloth. To char them, you can let them sit directly over a gas flame and turn using tongs; or, you can use a comal or dry skillet. I don’t have gas in my apartment (I’m one of the .02% of households in Mexico City that doesn’t), so I use the latter.

Heat the comal over high heat and turn chiles quickly, blackening all over but also making sure they don’t cook too long and turn slimy. Remove chiles to a dish towel once they’re charred, and wrap tightly. Let sit for 20 minutes. This makes the skin easier to peel off.

Peel the skin off chiles — DON’T RINSE UNDER WATER, as this mutes that lovely charred flavor! — and cut an incision into each one. Using your hands or a little spoon, scrape out the seeds as best you can. This is the most annoying part of the dish. Have I mentioned how much I hate seeding poblanos? Peeling, fun. Seeding, lame.

To prepare the filling: Take one slice of panela and sprinkle with epazote. Place the other piece of panela on top, like a sandwich, and sprinkle the whole thing with epazote. Place your panela-epazote sandwich inside the chile.

To cook: I had to do this in two batches. Heat a large (I used 10-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add half the lard and half the butter, and let melt. When hot, add two chiles. Cook until slightly darkened on all sides and cheese starts to melt. Serve with whatever you want — I used some leftover ayocote beans that Janneth brought me from Tepoztlan.

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15 Responses to “Chiles rellenos with panela cheese and epazote”
  1. Que es queso panela…me gustaria probar esta receta.

    • Lesley

      Hi Norma: Queso panela is similar to queso fresco, but a bit creamier and not as crumbly. It doesn’t melt at high temperatures which makes it really great for grilling or putting in a chile relleno. You can find it at most Latino supermarkets. Hope that helps!

  2. Daphne

    Still love reading you, Lesley!!
    Speaking of chili relleno….have you been to Restaurante La Poblanita in D.F.?
    Enrique and I were taken there last month, and ohhhh!! The chilis en nogado…. if you haven’t been there, you have got to try them. I’d read about them, but was nervous about eating them…don’t know why. They’re not made of anything weird.

    If you need more information, I’ll gladly give it to you.

    • Lesley

      Thanks Daphne. :-) I have not been to La Poblanita, but I’ve heard of it. I also heard the chiles have slipped, so I’m glad to hear you endorse them. This is the one that’s been around for like 40 years, right? I’ll look them up and add them on my chiles en nogada list for next year.

  3. Fred b block

    Well, I am going to do this with utilizing a locally grown Astal Chile Pepper, the largest pepper found in the marketplace. I have no luck this far growing Anaheim or Poblano peppers, but I have fresh seeds arriving in January! Thanks!

    • Lesley

      Sounds fun Fred! Let me know if you end up making it. Saludos!

  4. Don Cuevas

    This dish appeals to me, precisely because of the lack of capa. It looks simple, earthy and delicious.

    I see a distant family relationship to the chiles capones served at La Mesa de Blanca in Ziracuaretiro, Michoacán. There, a chile pasilla is semi rehydrated, filled with queso (I’m not certain if it’s queso panela or queso fresco), and covered in a mild but savory salsa verde de tomatillos. The dish is further enhanced by lashings of crema.
    It is a dish to lust for.

    Don Cuevas

    • Lesley

      Gracias DC. I like the idea of the chile covered in tomatillo sauce… will have to bookmark this for later. Do you know why it’s called “capon”? Feeling too lazy to thumb through WordReference forums for the answer.

  5. Naomi

    This looks delicious – my husband LOVES epazote, though it can be hard to find fresh where we live. We usually make chile relleno with the egg batter, so we might try these like that. Thanks for the recipe!!

    • Lesley

      You’re welcome! Let me know how it goes.

  6. Anne

    Lesley, these sound wonderful! Have you ever tried using a grapefruit spoon to scrape out the seeds? It works better than anything else I’ve tried— just the right size, and the little serrations are rough but not sharp. If you can find a grapefruit spoon!

    • Lesley

      LOVE the grapefruit spoon idea… I’m picking one up next time I’m at Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma. Thank you for the tip. :-)

  7. Christian Rene Friborg

    I love chile rellenoooosss so much thanks for this

  8. MaryAlice Denson

    I picked up some roasted at Farmers’ Market, I had some queso fresco, and the end of my epazote in a pot on the deck. This is delicious even if it was probably the wrong cheese. I liked it with pinto beans, small green salad and tomatoes, radishes, roasted cauliflower. I’ll make these chilles again soon. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. MaryAlice Denson


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