Chilies Rellenos con Papas y Alemdras
Serves 8-4, depending on size of chilies and portions served
There are a few schools of thought regarding chili relleno batter, including those veering toward thin and crisp and something that’s more like a puffy omelette. This batter is somewhere in between those two, a puffy tender texture with a little crispness on some edges.
There are many steps in this recipe, so I’d recommend preparing them over a few days. Roast the chiles and make the filling the day before you fry and things will go all the smoother. If the filling is made in advance, warm it slightly before filling the chiles. This ensures that the dense interior will be just as warm as the the quickly cooking fried exterior.
Shallow Frying Tip: I like to do my frying in a cast iron pan, as the thick metal provides even heat conduction, not to mention the heavy pan lessens the worry of accidentally tipping a skillet full of hot oil.
For easier frying of batter-dipped chilies, have handy 2 separate sets of long handled tongs plus a slotted metal spatula. Use one of the tongs just for dipping the chili into the batter, and the other tongs to lower batter-covered chile into the frying pan. The metal slotted spatula is very handy for easier turing of the chile once it’s frying. To flip, carefully slide spatula under the chili to minimize any tearing of the cooking crust. I find that using the frying tongs and spatula together when turning chilies over ensures that each side of the chili is perfectly fried. Try it out and see what works for you.
8 poblano chilies, average about 4-5 inches long
1 lb waxy yellow potato, such as Yukon Gold
1 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup corn kernels, frozen or fresh
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste
Corn starch for dusting (about 1/3 cup or more)
1 cup soy milk
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Peanut oil for shallow frying
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place whole chiles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until chiles are blistered and softened. Or roast each chile on a gas range, placing a whole chile directly on a flame turning occasionally until skin is charred. Place roasted chiles in a paper bag to continue softening the skin for about 20 minutes. After chilies are cool enough to handle, remove charred skin and with a sharp paring knife make an incision running down 3/4 of the way from stem to bottom. Remove and discard seeds.
2. Have ready 2 quarts of cold water in a large heavy pot. Peel and chop potatoes into 1 inch chunks, place in water and bring to a boil, cooking 8-10 minutes till very soft and tender. Remove from heat, drain but reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.
3. Heat olive oil in a heavy large skilled over medium and add chopped garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle and become fragrant add sliced almonds, stirring till almonds just start to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add corn kernels and cook another 2 minutes. Add cooked potato, cumin and oregano, stirring and mashing potato. Stir in 1 tablespoon of reserved potato cooking water a time until mixture looks moist and chunky but not as creamy as regular mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. Taste mixture and adjust with more salt, pepper and lime juice if needed. Allow potatoes to cool enough to handle.
4. With a small spoon or your finger very gently push potato mixture into each of the chilies. Use gentle pressure to push a nice firm portion of potato inside each chile. Leave a little space near the opening so that it’s easy to overlap slightly the two sides of opening on the chili. Use a toothpick to secure the chili flaps. Remember where those toothpicks are; you’ll need to remove them after the chile has been fried.
While you’re stuffing your chilis it’s a good idea to start heating up the frying oil. Use a heavy bottom skillet and fill with enough peanut oil to have at least 2 inches. The oil is ready when a small chunk of potato rapidly fries and starts to turn golden within 30 seconds of hitting the oil.
5. Prepare the batter. In a large bowl pour soy milk then sift in corn meal, flour, cumin, baking soda and salt. Whisk to form a thick batter. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (or any “keep warm” setting) and have ready a baking sheet inside.
Dust stuffed chilies with cornstarch on both sides. With one pair of tongs carefully dredge chili in batter, turning to coat all sides. Use another set of tongs to lower the chile in hot oil. Unless you’re using a huge pan, fry no more than 2 chilies at a time. They need plenty of room to be flipped and should not touching. Keep them warm in that pre-heated oven until ready to serve.
Serve with warmed salsa or chili sauce, rice, guacamole and a simple tomato salad.