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
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.
Who is Mija?
Mija is Lesley Téllez, a food writer and culinary guide in New York City. I spent four years in Mexico's Distrito Federal, which launched my deep love for Mexican food and culture. In 2010 I co-founded the tourism company Eat Mexico.
Be kind, ask permission!All photos on this site were taken by me, unless otherwise noted. If you'd like to use a photo, please email me.
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