Chiles rellenos ("stuffed chile" in Spanish) is one of our favorite dishes. My go-to technique for 10 years has been Rick Bayless' recipe in Mexico, One Plate at a Time. I especially love his tips: Frying the chiles to blister, chilling the stuffed poblanos before frying, and reheating in a hot oven. His souffle batter is also the perfect combination of crispy/fluffy, ideal for soaking up the brothy tomato sauce.
Don't let his long recipe here intimidate you, as many components can be done ahead of time. This is my timeline when making these for a dinner party: I make the sauce, and broil or (fry) and peel the chiles the night before. I prefer his technique of frying for four reasons - you already have oil that you will be using for the chiles rellenos, it's quicker, it's easier to peel, and you avoid the chance of overcooking. I should have used similar-sized peppers in the picture below, but you can see the difference in the pepper left too long under the broiler on the left, and the one on the right blistered in hot oil for about a minute. That being said, I will broil if I'm making a big batch and don't feel like standing over a hot stove.
The day of, I stuff the chiles with cheese, close them with toothpicks, and put them in the freezer for about 1-1/2 hours. Bayless says this firms them up and makes them easier to batter and fry, and I agree. Finally, with this technique, you can fry a couple of hours ahead of time and hold at room temperature. To serve, bake for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees to reheat. This also renders out any extra oil and crisps up the batter.
- Choose poblanos with strong sturdy stems attached to make it easier to dip and coat them in the thick batter.
- For a quick and easy tomato sauce, I'll simmer canned tomato sauce thinned with chicken stock and seasoned with Penzey's Adobo seasoning.
- Remember to take out the toothpicks after frying!