Friday, May 25, 2012

Week 19: Chiles Rellenos (for my mom, Part I)


I love Mother's Day like a fat kid loves cake. 

Like Dobby loves socks. 

Like zombies like brains. 

Like vegan zombies like grains (ha!). 

Mother's Day means coming home on Saturday and spending the afternoon and evening putting together all the dishes that we're going to be eating for brunch the next day. On this years menu:

Baked Blintz

French Toast Casserole

Chesapeake Crab Quiche

Ham & Red Pepper Egg Muffins

Egg Strata

Monkey Bread

Fresh Fruit

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Does that list sound epic to you? Cause it is, believe me. I'm a sucker for brunch, so this is the ideal meal for me. Sweet and savory come together in a meal that should be the standard. Breakfast? Who needs it, lunch? Who cares! Brunch is where it's at. Yo. 

Three years ago I decided to make my mom dinner on Mother's Day. She spends all morning putting dishes into the oven and taking them out, making sure everyone has something to eat, cleaning up and then heading outside to work in her yard. It's the least I could do to make her some dinner. This year, I got overly ambitious. 

For whatever reason I got chiles rellenos in my head. I thought about them for at least two weeks before finally saying, yes, this is what I will make. I've had them only once before. That story involves a lot of tequila, my Aunt, and some coworkers (one of which was very underage). That's a story for another day.

The chiles are delicious. I really liked them, just give yourself more than an hour to make them. I did not manage my time well and Mom ended up pitching in and making the rice for me. Thanks Mom! Getting the seeds out of the pepper was horribly hard, stuffing them and "sewing" them back together was hard, frying things is kind of hard. I'm going to leave the chiles rellenos to the professionals.There are three parts to the recipe, the filling, the tomato sauce and the rest of the filling. That doesn't make sense, but it will soon I think.

Chiles Rellenos
originally from Closet Cooking
4 large poblano peppers (or 6 medium or 8 small)
4 eggs (separated)
2 tablespooons flour
1 cup flour
oil for frying
2 cups ranchero sauce (warm, see below)
1 cup jack and cheddar cheese (grated)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)

1. Broil the poblano peppers on the top oven rack until blackend on all sides.
2. Place the peppers in a plastic bag and let them sweat for 10-15 minutes before peeling the skins.
3. Make a small cut along the length of the pepper and scoop out the seeds.
4. Fill the peppers with some of the picadillo and seal the peppers back up with toothpicks.
5. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then beat in the flour followed by the egg yolks one at a time.
6. Dredge the peppers in the flour and then dip them in the egg white batter.
7. Fry the peppers in oil heated to 350F until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
8. Place the chiles rellenos in a baking dish, pour the ranchero sauce over them and sprinkle with cheese.
9. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese has melted and the sides are bubbling, about 15-20 minutes.
10. Serve garnished with cilantro.

(makes 4 servings) 
1 pound ground pork
2 cups Ranchero Sauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pimento stuffed green olives (chopped)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the pork in a pan and drain any excess grease.
2. Add the tomato sauce, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, vinegar, raisins and olives.
3. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
4. Mix in the almonds and season with salt and pepper.

Ranchero Sauce(makes 4 servings)
 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 small onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 jalapeno (seeded and diced)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
2 tablespoons corn oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno and cilantro in a food processor.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Add the tomato mixture, chicken broth and cumin and season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes.

All of this wasn't quite enough for me to do, so I also made Mexican Rice. Yummy. 

"Authentic" Mexican Rice
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp Caldo de Tomate (I use Knorr brand)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder

In a mixing bowl whisk together water, Caldo de Tomate, optional onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and chili powder, set aside. Drizzle oil into a non-stick saucepan and heat over medium high heat.  Add rice and cook several minutes, stirring constantly until rice is slightly puffed and golden. Add water mixture to rice then stir and cover pan with lid.  Reduce heat to low and allow rice to simmer for 20-25 minutes until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff rice with a fork, cover with lid and allow to rest 5 minutes. Serve warm. 

Here is my mom with Arvilla, our wonderful friend, who will be turning 102 years old in August. She's fabulous. She still comes to Mother's Day brunch and Thanksgiving dinner each year and eats a heaping plate full of food. I hope that I have such a healthy appetite when I'm her age.

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