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~ Chilly-Day Comfort: Robin's Chile Relleno Bake!!! ~

IMG_2414I've had this recipe sitting on my desktop since February 2nd, the day my foodie Facebook friend and fellow blogger Robin Mullen posted it just in time for Super Bowl XLVII (47).  Joe and I adore Tex-Mex food (in case you haven't noticed Category 13 here on Kitchen Encounters is partially devoted to it), so, this recipe caught my eye immediately.  (I've always wanted to add a really yummy Tex-Mex casserole to my repertoire, but, an inspiration for one never came about.) Super Bowl Sunday was the next day (February 3rd), and, since I hadn't made a decision on what to make for Joe, I thought Robin's casserole would be perfect.  Alas, there were no fresh poblano peppers to be found here in Central PA on that day.  After a short chat with Robin, who recommended not substituting anything in their place, I set it aside, on a short stack of "things I gotta try really soon" recipes.  Thank-you for the inspiration Robin!

IMG_2373Yesterday, I sent Joe to Wegman's with a short list of ingredients for my 37th KE cooking segment on WHVL-TV.  Joe called from the store and asked, "Was it poblano peppers you were looking for a couple of weeks ago?"  About 30 minutes later he was home with everything I needed for my shoot, plus, two pounds of handsome poblanos.  Today, we woke up to sleet and freezing rain. With poblanos on hand, this is going to be the perfect cold-weather dinner!

RobinEnter:  Robin Mullen, an interior designer and photographer who lives in Denver, Colorado. She loves to travel, especially to her home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  She is also passionate about cooking and dining well.  Robin has been traveling to San Miguel de Allende for over 39 years.  A few times as year, she organizes small groups to tour San Miguel de Allende and the surrounding areas of colonial old Mexico.  Known for her attention to detail, these intimate tours provides one a chance to join friends of similar taste and to experience San Miguel's exceptional cuture, endless shopping, savory cuisine, ideal climate and its amazing colonial architecture.  I follow her blog on a regular basis, and, if you are lover of Mexican cuisine and history, I highly-recommend that you check it out at:

IMG_2184A bit about poblanos and chile relleno:  Poblanos are a dark green to greenish-black chile with a flavor that is mildly-spicy.  They're about 2 1/2"-3" wide and about 4"-5" long, tapering from top to bottom into a sort-of triangular shape.  The best polanos are grown in central Mexico and the Southwestern U.S.  "Poblano" is the word for the inhabitants of the state of Puebla, Mexico, where this chile pepper originated.   Their peak season is late-Summer and early-Fall.  In their dried form, they are known as "chile ancho", meaning,"wide chile".  They are almost never eaten in raw form, but are cooked in a wide variety of Tex-Mex dishes and sauces.  They are best known as the chile of choice for "chile relleno", which means, "stuffed peppers".  In this dish, the peppers are stuffed with a cheese mixture, batter-dipped and deep-fried until the outside is crisp and golden and the inside is melted and oozing.  Poblanos are also popular during the Mexican independence day festivities as part of a dish called "chiles en nogada", which incorporates green, white and red ingredients corresponding to the colors of the Mexican flag!

Roasting poblano peppers enhances their flavor and texture!

IMG_2245When we're roasting poblanos in the Summer months, Joe places them on the grids of our gas grill, turning them, until the skin is charred.  When I'm roasting 1-2 indoors, I poke one with a fork and hold it over the flame on my gas stove (which is how Robin does hers), until the skin is charred on all sides. When I have several to roast, I do them all at once under the broiler in my oven (which is your alternative in the event you don't have a gas grill or a gas stove)!

IMG_2189 IMG_2194~ Step 1. Stand each poblano upright, stem side up. Using a chef's knive, cut vertically down all 3 sides of the pepper, to form three relatively-flat sides.  Remove seeds and trim out any white rib sections.

IMG_2199~ Step 2.  Place the pepper pieces, side-by-side, in a single layer, skin-side-up on an appropriately-sized baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.

Note:  This is six peppers and this is a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan.

IMG_2206 IMG_2203                                             ~ Step 3. Place pan 6" under preheated broiler until skins are blistered and a deep, chocolate-brown color, about 6-9 minutes.

Note:  Watch carefully during this time, as peppers can and will go from chocolate-brown charred to black-burned quickly!

IMG_2217~ Step 4.  Remove pan from oven, cover tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil and set aside for about 10-15 minutes.  This will allow the skin to sweat and steam, which will make them easy to remove from the flavorful flesh.

IMG_2224Step 5.  Uncover the pan.  Using your fingertips, starting at the wide end of each pepper, begin pulling the thin, charred skin from the now smoky-flavored, softened, flesh.

IMG_2229Removing the skin from six peppers took me less than 5 minutes.  How easy was that!

Note:  Some sources will instruct to char the skin to a "blackened" state. Feel free to do that if you wish, but I find that tactic detrimental to the fine taste of the poblano pepper!

Chile Relleno Casserole: Perfect for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner!

IMG_22542  pounds fresh poblano peppers, roasted and peeled, cut into strips or large, 1 1/2"-2" chunks (6, 5-6 ounce poblanos)

1  pound ground beef (Note:  I'm using ground sirloin (95/5).)

1  pound ground pork (Note:  I'm using ground pork tenderloin.)

8  ounces yellow or sweet onion, IMG_2247diced, about 2 cups

4  large garlic cloves, minced, about 2 tablespoons

2  teaspoons ground cumin

1  teaspoon Mexican oregano

1  teaspoon ancho chile powder

2  teaspoons sea salt 

2  4.5-ounce cans chopped green chiles, drained

IMG_22651 pound grated white or yellow cheddar cheese, about 4 cups (Note:  I'm using 8 ounces Monterey Jack w/Jalapeno cheese and 8 ounces yellow cheddar.)

8 large eggs 

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

2  teaspoons sea salt

2  tablespoons Sriracha sauce

IMG_2269~ Step 1.  Crumble the ground beef and pork into a 12" skillet.  Dice the onion and mince the garlic, adding them to the skillet as you work. Sprinkle in the cumin, Mexican oregano, ancho chile powder and sea salt.

IMG_2278 IMG_2272~ Step 2.  Over medium-high heat, saute, stirring frequently, breaking the meat up into smaller bits and pieces as you go, until the meat is just cooked through and the onions are soft, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat.

~ Step 3. Prop the pan on its side to tip it at a slight angle (I use a kitchen towel).  Allow liquid to drain from the meat, about 30 seconds. Using a small ladle, remove and discard the liquid.  Stir in the green chiles and set the pan aside.

IMG_2298~ Step 4.  Grate the cheese and set aside.  I tossed both of my cheeses together in a food storage bag.

IMG_2282~ Step 5.  In a large bowl, on medium speed of hand-held electric mixer, combine the eggs and flour and until smooth.  Lower the mixer speed and blend in the milk, Sriracha and salt.  Set aside.  To assemble and bake the casserole:

IMG_2302 IMG_2308 IMG_2314 IMG_2315


         ~ Step 6, 7, 8 & 9.  Arrange half of the poblano pepper pieces in the bottom of a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole.  Distribute half of the grated cheese over the top.  Spoon all of the meat mixture on top of the cheese.  Arrange the second half of the pepper pieces over the top.

IMG_2324 IMG_2319~ Steps 10, 11 & 12. Pour milk mixture over the top.  Distribute remaining cheese over the top.  Bake, uncovered, on center rack of 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Casserole will be bubbling around the perimeter, puffed up in the center and lightly-browned. Remove from oven and allow to rest 15-20 minutes prior to slicing and serving:

IMG_2348Chilly-Day Comfort:  Robin's Chiles Rellenos Bake!!!:  Recipe yields 12 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; aluminum foil; 12" skillet; spatula; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole dish; whisk

IMG_2454Cook's Note:  Looking for a great lunch to take to the office?  Cut the casserole into squares and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate. Grab one every AM on your way out the door and reheat it in the office microwave.  Remember to keep a bottle of your favorite hot sauce in your desk drawer!

6a0120a8551282970b015435f6f6ae970c-800wiExtra Cook's Note:  Joe grows poblanos in his garden.  In the late-Summer, early-Fall I enjoy using them in all sorts of Tex-Mex fare. You can find one of our favorite meals in Categories 3, 13, 19 or 20:  ~ Stuffed Peppers?  Make Mine Poblanos Please!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


Thanks Laura -- so glad to hear that even your picky eater enjoyed it! On any given day, in any given oven, timing varies -- the important thing is: YOU knew when to take it out of YOUR oven! Have a great day!

I made this tonight.....It was truly amazing.....loved be every individual in my family....and I have a picky one that usually hates casserole I make....this was full of flavor and will be a regular rotation in my menus....I have to say I had to cook it a bit longer than what the recipe called for....everything else was spot on! Great recipe!

Teresa! I am so glad you made this. We love it. I plan on making it again soon, and, I think I'm going to make it using the half and half too -- thanks for that idea/suggestion!!!

Holy mother of God, this is first class eating! I didn't have milk so I used half and half, and of course I've still been unable to find Mexican oregano. I substituted marjoram, but best casserole ever! The spices sent it into another culinary plane. No kidding, you continue to blow me away Mel!

Teresa! It is very similar to a strata, except lighter because of the absence of bread. I reheated two slices of it in the microwave for breakfast for us this morning and it was even better than it was yesterday. I do hope you can find poblanos so you can try it ASAP. We're going to be eating it all weekend!!!

I love casseroles that are fun, easy, and cheesy Mel, and I can see this one will be a hit at my house. Hope I can find poblanos. It puts me in mind of a Tex-Mex strata with the flour replacing the bread.

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