Food-n-Flix: It’s Complicated…Chile Rellenos~

22 09 2012

Our featured flick at Food ‘n Flix for September has been It’s Complicated.   I had a hard time deciding what to prepare, when it dawned on me that I’d used this exact phrase to describe the preparation method for Chile Rellenos.  A friend had asked me if it was “hard” to make them, and my reply was, “No…but it’s complicated…”  And when you think about it…spicy, sexy, enchanting…the movie and the food work well together.

This was kind of a typical post-first-marriage chick flick…  I can understand (up to a point) why a woman whose spouse had abandoned her and their children for a younger woman might entertain some fairy tale-romantic dreams of recapturing what they’d once had…  I think I felt badly for her, putting herself in that position of still feeling that “need” somehow…  I may be a little harsh in that regard, but I didn’t get my opinion from a box of Cracker Jacks…there’s some history there.   Regardless…this is where the chiles fit in for me.  This is a volatile situation…and it could become combustible…just like biting into an unknown chile!  Ever done that?

I have to admit that I love her kitchen.  Mine is so incredibly (space saving) tiny!  I realize this is totally impractical…it works well for film, but running from one end to the other gets OLD!  *Ü*

I would seriously love to see red tomatoes in my garden too….  The weather has been really off the past couple of years, and tomatoes just aren’t on schedule the way they should be.  My plants look this good, but there are only a few tomatoes trying to set.  Every time we’d get a flush of flowers, it would get HOT and the blossoms would drop.  Now that Fall is HERE (we still had high 90’s weather last weekend) we’ll get tomatoes, peppers and other goodies to finally set fruit.  What an incredible job to have!!

We whip up a little mischief in Life by having an affair with the ex-husband (Alec Baldwin), Fate delivers a new version of Mr. Right (Steve Martin) and Meryl Streep finds herself sitting in a hot frying pan.

Fortunately, our protagonist eventually sees the situation for what it is…and extracts herself from the whole mess.  We’re left with Mr. Right and Ms. Complicated walking off screen to share a cup of tea…  Not my favorite movie… I guess I’m not a big romance-flick kind of gal.  I tend to face Life pretty much head on, and shake my head in disbelief at romance books and movies.  Not that I don’t love a beautiful love story… *Ü*  Still…it’s fun to check on some movies I’ve never seen!

Back in the kitchen, we took some of those red, ripe tomatoes and diced them with some onion and a bit of seeded fresh jalapeno, then tossed that in a saute pan with some garlic and a little oil.  Set this little salsa aside until you plate your chiles, but do make it now as your attention is going to be on your chiles for awhile.  Add salt as needed to taste and add cilantro just before you spoon it onto the cooked chile rellenos.  Couldn’t be easier!  But the chiles part…that’s what’s complicated.

Can you make meringue?  Then you can make chile rellenos.  Egg whites will whip up high and light religiously if you are equally as religious about washing the mixing bowl and the whisk, whip, or beaters with hot soapy water just before using them.  When you separate your eggs, use 3 small bowls…one to crack the egg over to separate the eggs: this bowl will be the first catch basin for your egg white.  If you are successful at separating the egg without breaking the yolk, transfer the egg white to the mixer bowl.  If you do break an egg yolk, you haven’t lost your whole mixer of egg whites…just that from the one egg.  If you break the yolk, pour the whole egg into your yolk-bowl.  The extra whites won’t matter there so much.  Stop and wash the bowl you’re cracking eggs and separating them into.  There will be traces of egg yolk left in there if you don’t.  See what I mean?  It’s not hard…but it’s complicated… *giggle*

I use 3 eggs (separated), for 4-6 fire roasted (Part of the enchantment of this recipe is the freshness of the dish…fresh, fire roasted, gently…so only the skin is blackened, not the flesh, is best.  This will yield a pepper with a bit of crunch and an incredible flavor.  However, all things considered, yes, canned will work fine, but the flavor and texture won’t be the same.) poblano peppers filled with Monterey jack cheese.  I cut my cheese into triangles about 1/2 inch thick and fill each chile pepper with a triangular hunk of cheese.  This slows the melting a little bit, giving the batter time to cook all the way through.  I like to keep a bit of the stem on my chiles to promote batter dipping.  It makes a great little handle.  Once the peppers are filled, set them aside while you prepare the egg batter.  Whip the egg whites until high and light, but not dry.  Move to the egg yolks and beat until fluffy and lemon colored.  Season with salt and fold the egg yolks into the egg whites.  Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat with about 1/4-1/2 inch of vegetable oil in it.  Dust the filled chiles with flour and dip into the egg batter and coat thoroughly.  Lay into the hot pan and repeat, filling the pan without crowding the chiles.  If possible, keep track of the opening where you inserted the cheese and lay the chile on that side to cook first.   Reduce heat if necessary to keep from scorching the eggs.  Turn the chiles when nicely browned and the egg “fluff” has set somewhat.  Once in awhile, you’ll need to make an additional third turn if you have a blocky pepper.

Remove the chiles from the pan and let drain briefly on paper.  If you have to cook another pan full, keep these warm in a 140° oven until all servings are ready.  Plate your rellenos, top with warm salsa and serve with a dollop of Mexican Crema (or sour cream) and hot sauce if you like.

I love chile rellenos.  I’ve been making them so long…They’re my favorite Sunday brunch food.  Then it’s time for a nap.  Or a good movie.  Or both.  Maybe we’ll have to amend that to Saturday brunch…


Thank you France at Beyond the Peel for being our hostess this month!  It was fun!  I can’t wait to see what decadent things everyone has been making!