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Chile Rellenos

So I'm actually looking for a definitive answer, but that doesn't exist in food. Is a Chile Relleno traditionally made with a Hatch/Anaheim style chile or a poblano? I've heard both from supposedly reputable sources. I've always associated it with New Mexican fare so I've assumed Hatch. Well, while we're at it, does anyone know where it originates from? FYI, my opinion is always that whatever is freshest is best, but I prefer the Hatch style ones, but from the variety with more capsaicin.

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  1. This doesn't answer any of your questions but I had a great chile relleno in the Outer Banks this summer made with crab and cream cheese I think. They were so great. I hope the place is still there next summer. It was at Mack Daddys (I know, the name almost kept me from going.)

    1. Some of the Mexican chile rellenos are rellenado with refried beans and are not fried in any way. The tempura style comes from who knows where, but uses anaheim style chilis.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Sam, may I ask where in Mexico have you seen these simple unfried and bean stuffed chile rellenos? Black beans or other?

        1. re: kare_raisu

          In Chiapas. Take the chile skins off after roasting over flame. Slit open, remove seeds & ribs; fill with refied black beans; serve and eat.

        2. re: Sam Fujisaka

          > Given the souffle batter used in Chile Rellenos...
          > Their inclusion in 16th Century Pueblan Convent cookbooks... before any Europeans set foot in New Mexico.
          > The widespread cultivation of Poblanos in Puebla

          It all reinforces the theory that they orginated in Puebla & thus the original would be made with Chile Poblanos

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            Thanks for providing some evidence rather than just, "____ is the answer, because I know it is."

            1. re: amkirkland

              Spot on. But I did eat the roasted and filled with refried beans in the countryside in Chiapas. Poblanos are to me an "Anheim style"--mild and amenable to stuffing.

            2. re: Eat_Nopal

              I should clarify that these timeline only pertains to battered, deep fried stuffed chiles. Sam is correct, in Mexico there are many chiles that are stuffed with a wide range of fillings, these go back to pre-hispanic times.

          2. Since a Hatch/Anaheim chile is a New Mexico variety, it will be used in a New Mexico relleno, while poblano is widely used through out (old) Mexico. I'm not even sure what a New Mexico variety of chile is called in Mexico.

            Chile relleno just means 'stuffed chile', although the most common style is a cheese or picadillo (sweet pork) filling, and an egg batter coating.


            1. As with most things, a "proper" chile relleno to me is the kind to which I was first introduced. In my case, it was an Anaheim chile stuffed with cheese, dusted with flour, then rolled in a batter made with egg white whipped with salt and egg yolk beaten with flour and then all folded in together. This confection is then slipped into a skillet of boiling oil, cooked until it is puffy and light brown, and then served with a red chile sauce.

              I understand that the versions that are stuffed with picadillo and other things are equally traditional. I frankly don't care.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Will Owen

                I think that they use poblanos exclusively in old Mexico (I don't mean they use poblanos only in Mexico but that Mexico doesn't use any other types).

                I'm with Will, however, if they taste good, I'll eat em.

                I always use poblanos, but used to always use anaheims before I knew about poblanos. I also have made the chile sauce with chunks of turkey or chorizo or ground pork. I've had em stuffed with mushrooms and once with shrimp.

                I love them all. I even loved my friend's version which had been frozen for a week and then reheated.

                I even love those casseroles of chiles layered with cheese and sauce and then topped with the beaten egg whites mixed with egg yolk and flour.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  In Oaxaca I had Chiles rellenos made from chiles de agua, which are small and can be very, very spicy.

                  I much prefer poblanos to Anaheim/California/New Mexico (the long pale green skinny ones) because I think their flavor is heartier.

                  I have also made chiles rellenos from dried, stuffed anchos (the dried form of poblanos). The stuffing was (fake, in my case) chorizo and potatoes, and they were to die for, but a real pain to make.

                  Sometimes I stuff poblanos with diced veg - zucchini, corn, sweet peppers - and just bake them with a green tomatillo sauce, no eggs or cheese involved. Yum.

                  1. re: Snackish

                    how do you make the ancho relleno? reconstitute it then stuff it or does liquid from the stuffing do that in the cooking?

                    1. re: amkirkland

                      Yes, reconstitute in warm water for quite a while. I wrote a blog post about it on http://snackish.blogspot.com. I will try to hunt up the date when I am at a place where I can access my blog.

                      1. re: Snackish

                        Here is the blog post - Ancho Chiles stuffed with potatoes and chorizo


              2. If you love chile rellenos, you haven't lived until you've had them stuffed with a tamale, a la Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo in Watsonville, California. Insanely delicious!

                Carb Lover, have you ever thought of trying to make them?

                5 Replies
                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I've been wanting to make stuffed poblanos lately (I hesitate to call them chile rellenos), but I've been looking for a corn bread/corn meal based stuffing recipe, to no avail. So I could just use the cornmeal dough from a tamale recipe and stick it in there?

                  1. re: JGrey

                    A corn meal or bread stuffing for Chile's Relleno's is not tradional Mexican. I would buy some corn based empanada flour (Columbian empanada flour is quite good) and batter your peppers with this. The tamale stuffed pepper sounds tasty though.

                    1. re: JGrey

                      The restaurant in question uses actual small tamales -- masa filled with one of three different fillings -- and then stuffs them in the chiles. Looking at the picture ( http://images.kodakgallery.com/photos... ), it appears they split the chile lengthwise to insert the tamale. My recollection is that they use a fairly soft masa dough for the tamales.

                      1. re: JGrey

                        I think you would want to precook the stuffing, whether it is based on corn bread or a tamale. You don't want to cook the chile, before stuffing, or after, for more than about 10 minutes. In the classic relleno, the chile is partially cooked while removing the skin. Once stuffed it is cooked (fried) just long enough to melt the cheese and to brown the batter.

                        Come to think of it, there is a version of stuffed peppers that involves longer cooking - stuffed bell peppers. Though even with those the stuffing (ground meat etc) is precooked.


                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Re the question to Carb Lover asking if she's going to make them.....And then invite us all to wolf them down?

                      3. Because I grew up in New Mexico, it's hard to think of a chile relleno made with anything other than Hatch chile...however if you try to make them, using poblanos is MUCH easier. Their more sturdy/easy to fill and fry or bake.

                        1. even in mexico I'd say poblanos are the most common. However, that's definitely not all they use. I've definitely had them down there with different chiles on different occasions. One place in Baja made wonderful jalapeno chile rellenos that you could order alone or in a taco or torta. awesome.

                          Even dried chiles are sometimes used in different places in mexico to make chile rellenos. Oaxacan dried pasillas come to mind...

                          But for what is the most common, poblanos are safe.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: adamclyde

                            I've thought of Anaheims as the chile of last resort, which a restaurant would use if poblanos were not available, or an adaptation for customers who like their 'Mexican' food covered with a yellow cheese quilt. But that undoubtedly is because I mostly prefer the 'old' Mexico taquerias, the kind that serves menudo only on weekends.

                            I've only been to New Mexico once, and most memorable meal was at the Old Mexico Grill in Santa Fe. The dish was chicken with a poblano cream sauce (rajas - strips).

                            For stuffing poblanos have some good features, since they are relatively large, and thick fleshed. Their heat, though, is variable. Generally mildly hot, occasionally hotter.

                            What is the prefered batter in the New Mexico version? Any covering sauce? The poblanos that I usually get have thin egg batter, but once or twice I've had rellenos buried deep in a souffle.


                            1. re: paulj

                              A light flour/egg batter, similar to tempura. As for the sauce, it's usually the same (but roasted) green chiles that are made into a sauce with a basic roux.

                              1. re: paulj

                                I've had them from with anything from the traditional egg batter (my preference and the most common I've come across, to a full on batter to corn flake crusted.

                              2. re: adamclyde

                                Wow! Jalapenos! Seems like a verrrrry labor intensive chore to fill all those little guys.

                                1. re: oakjoan

                                  they are like the original jalapeno poppers. but oh so much better!

                                  Best jalapeno rellenos I ever had were in baja that were stuffed with crab or lobster if I remember correctly. man so good.

                                  1. re: adamclyde

                                    Jalapenos stuffed with crab are very traditional in Veracruz where they originated (The name Jalapeno is dervied from the town of Jalapa / Xalapa where they came to fame) - and I agree they are very, very good... a perfect balance between the buttery crab & the spicy, smokey charred jalapenos.

                              3. I use Anaheims or poblanos, whichever looks good in the market. All things being equal, I prefer the poblanos. I find them to be more flavorful

                                1. Like was previously stated chile relleno just means 'stuffed chile'.

                                  I've had stuffed chiles all over Mexico, the Southwest and Texas. I've found that chile rellenos recipes vary by region and unless you ask the waiter to describe the dish, you can get anything (battered or not, roasted or not, fresh or pickled or canned, fillings that vary wildly).

                                  My husband FREAKED OUT the first time he got a chile relleno that had a spicy meat stuffing that also included nuts & raisins (which is what I grew up with). Once I ordered it and received stuffed jalapenos -- awesome but not what I was expecting (since to me that's an street food or appetizer, not an entree).

                                  1. Since apparently we can do whatever we'd like, has anyone ever stuffed a pepper inside of a pepper? you know, in the spirit of the turducken?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: amkirkland

                                      I think you should try it and tell us about it. Try poblano, stuffed with new mexico, stuffed with jalapeno stuffed with habanero. That would set off a few heat alarms...


                                      1. re: amkirkland

                                        Interesting idea. I have found the really hot NuMex chiles to have too thin of a wall to make a proper relleno, and they usually fall apart upon peeling. I can imagine, though, that stuffing a mild thick walled chile with the flesh of a hot one along with the cheese would produce something quite tasty.

                                        1. re: amkirkland

                                          Yes, I have seen that in markets around Mexico state. After the rainy season is over.... the mushrooms, greens, squash & huitlacoche is gone... and before nopales are harvested... chiles become the main seasonal "vegetable"... you will commonly see the indigenous people use chiles as the main taco filling etc.... and stuffing Poblanos with sauteed chipotles, jalapenos, cuaresmenos, chilaca & other chiles is quite common.

                                        2. Count me in on Poblanos.

                                          1. In California, the pepper of choice seems to be the poblanos. Available year round in the markets, though at half the cost in Mexican supermarkets. New Mexico or Hatch chilis are not available in most areas, so you lucky southwesterners have us there.

                                            If you get a fresh poblano relleno at a restaurant, count yourself lucky, as most americanized places still use canned anaheims. (Will, get thee to a mercado, toast some fresh poblanos over the gas flame on your stove and get stuffin'.)

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: toodie jane

                                              I have had New Mexican chiles rellenos several times in trips to Taos, Corrales, Santa Fe and Albuquerque every other year, and they've always been pretty low on the spice/heat scale. What is a Hatch chile like? Anaheim?

                                              I also, in several places in NM, have had chiles rellenos that were REALLY HEAVILY battered, with lots of cheese and were deep fried. They were not appealing to me at all. Maybe I ordered them in the wrong places. Any suggestions for Alb or Corrales? Or should I just buy chiles when I'm there and sneak them back to Califa?

                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                hatch is a small town in southern NM, so to me New Mexico and Hatch are synonymous. To my tounge they are heatless, but have great flavor. Anaheims are just slightly hotter in my experience and my assumption is that they hail from the same place responsible for the mighty ducks and the happiest place on earth... what a lie...

                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                  Hatch is the place where Big Jim peppers (most commonly used in NM) are grown. They were originally produced out of the agriculture department at NM State University in Las Cruces, NM, which also happens to be where most of the scientific studies on chile peppers is done. And you can get the chile in mild, medium or hot, although there's no guarantee you won't get a hot one in a bushel of mild chile. During harvest season (late summer/fall) most grocery stores around the states have stands set up in the parking lots where you can buy burlap sacks of the stuff, and for an extra fee, have the bushel roasted for you right there in a big mesh rotating tumbler fueled by propane. Most traditionalists prefer to do it themselves at home over a regular grill, but as you can imagine it's a lot of work.
                                                  I remember going to Hatch as a kid during harvest and watching the chile eating contest. At that age the watermelon contest was all I could muster.

                                                2. re: toodie jane

                                                  I thought several folks posted that the anaheim chile is just another name for the Hatch or NM chile.....we can get them even more places in Califa than we can poblanos. I wouldn't want to, though, as I find them too bland.

                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                    here is some info on 'Joe Parker' NuMex chile (anaheim type)


                                                    so Anaheim is a TYPE and Joe Parker is a named variety with specific charachteristics.

                                                    There are many other New Mexico's as well in the trade.

                                                    here are more: http://www.biadchili.com/index.php

                                                  2. re: toodie jane

                                                    Yes, TJ, I know about poblanos - in fact, I've been using them in all kids of places where I used to use canned Anaheims, because of their more interesting flavor AND the fact that if you're cooking them wet you really don't need to peel them. See, it's that peeling part that gets me all grouchy - I follow the various "easy" methods and still wind up with burnt spots and chunks of peel that will NOT come off. A lot of restaurants use a deep fryer instead of roasting, which reportedly works beautifully, but I'm not gonna go out and buy one just for that.

                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                      I've tried frying as a means of skinning the sucker and found it to be not worth the bother. First, I did it too long, making the whole thing too soft. But second, cleaning a pot of hot oil is not among my favorite things. Charring the suckers in a broiler or on an open flame (or in my case, with a torch) works well. And if there is some char left, or some skin in a few little places, I don't fret it.

                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                        Will, I find that if I wrap the charred chiles in a kitchen towel and let them cool all the way, the skins come off with very light rubbing, in all but the deepest wrinkles. It's when I'm impatient that I have trouble with the skins. Patience=not my virtue.

                                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                                          Speaking of poblanos...if you like the taste of roasted ones, I've got a killer queso recipe that has them in it...

                                                          1. re: scrapcatb

                                                            Maybe you can help me... what on God's green earth is "queso"? My Texas-dwelling friends are always talking about "gotta make some queso for the party". It sure sounds like a set thing, but my Los Angeles-dwelling ears just hear "cheese" -- so fess up, are we talking about nacho cheese here, or what?

                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                              Texans have a hard time pronouncing Fundido which means Fondued... so they shorten Queso Fundido into simply Queso. In the Northern Mexican / Texan version... it is simply shredded Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese with a little something (strips of poblanos, chorizo, flecks of chipotle, or a few mushrooms)... baked in a clay pot... it is typically served with tortillas so that you can roll your own tacos.

                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                Well, it's not a pronounciation problem exactly, perhaps just an evolution of a term. While that's a good description of queso fundido, the "queso" in quetsion is remarkably less refined. If you get queso at a party you're probably gonna be talking about velveeta with something spicy, possible simply salsa or hot sauce. If you're real lucky they'll make you their secret recipe, which means they added a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup. Typically it's served with corn tortilla chips in ratios that would make one wonder if the chip was just a condiment for the cheese.

                                                                1. re: amkirkland

                                                                  Oh no that is just wrong! That is weird because I've had perfectly authentic Queso Fundido in Texas several times... its one of those things they seem to do right.

                                                              2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                BTW... here is a traditional recipe if you want to try making it for them next you see them:


                                                      2. Diane Kennedy in her regional cooking book, has a recipe for poblanos stuffed with diced, cooked zucchini. These are fried without batter. Another recipe stuffs them with cooked corn (sweet corn kernels) and cheese, and baked with a covering of sour cream.

                                                        That has also been a thread about dried poblanos (anchos) stuffed, and served with a walnut sauce.


                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          Wow! that sounds great. I'll have to go look up the second recipe. Thanks.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            A search on 'ancho' and 'walnut' turned up a number of threads. However, it turns out that I was conflating two ideas. Chiles en Nogada are poblanos with a sweet meat filling and a walnut cream sauce. Anchos, on the other hand, tend to be marinated in a vinegar sugar mixture, stuffed and served more as a salad.


                                                          2. Pobalano preferred but have used the Anaheim too. My very favorite is the cheese only filling with a fluffy light egg batter. We have a restaurant here that makes them soooo great, and I was told by there chef that when you make the batter you must be in a happy mood, otherwise the batter will not turn out right. I like that!!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                                              That just reminds me of "Like Water for Chocolate". Which reminds me to watch that movie and drool at all the food.

                                                            2. Is the use of dried chiles in chile relleno preparations limited to a regional area of Mexico or is it to be found anywhere?

                                                              This use of a dried chile terrabily intrigues me.

                                                              What is more commonplace in traditional Mexican cooking -a batter fried or roasted only?

                                                              Any one know of the first written mention of this dish as it involves an advanced preparation?

                                                              I am curious as to what the Aztecs, Zapotec and other indiginous may have stuffed their roasted chiles prior to the introduction of cheese and the technique of deep frying introduced by the Spaniards (if chile rellenos existed before). As am I interested in the appearance, construction of tamales prior to the introduction of pork and lard. I read that this was the battle food for warriors on the go.

                                                              Larochelle, could I ask for your picadillo recipe?

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                I don't know the anthropology of the food, but I do know that dried chiles are used in a few places for rellenos. Oaxaca is one that comes to mind for sure. Dried chile rellenos are wonderful, btw.

                                                                like many things that are now fried, I would suspect that fire roasting was the common technique. Not sure if rellenos fit that bill - my guess is that they may have been created after the spanish influences of the 15-16th centuries, but if they did exist, perhaps fire roasting was what was used? all a guess here.

                                                                1. re: adamclyde

                                                                  I use dried chilies all the time, that is interesting, I usually whirl a mix of three kinds in the blender making a wonder thick earthy red sauce. The ancho, the pasilla and the santa maria. I mean the California dried whatever.

                                                                2. re: kare_raisu

                                                                  I don't really have a "recipe", I just make it after looking at various books in my collection of regional Mexican cuisine.

                                                                  When I make picadillo, I usually start out with the Fonda San Miguel cookbook as theirs is awesome. I'll look at Diana Kennedy but, I tend to only use her for refenence, not actual instruction. When I want "home-style", I use Melissa Guerra (I just got Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert).

                                                                3. Always poblano here in LA... and the idea of stuffing them with tamales sounds amazingly tasty -- don't get me wrong, I like cheese, but enough is enough!

                                                                  Now I want chiles rellenos.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                    I like the tamale idea, too, but cheese need not be repetitive or boring. I've used brie, goat cheese, smoked gouda and others- all to great success.

                                                                    For the record I am partial to the poblanos as well- you just can't beat the combination of thick sturdy flesh with some deep flavor. Occasionally I will get lucky with my home grown ones and they'll start to turn red at the end of the season. Now there is something special- stuffed red poblanos, with their gentle sweetness.

                                                                  2. My first chile relleno was at a restaurant in Ohio where they took a green bell pepper and stuffed it with cheese and seasoned ground beef. It was awesome and to this day remains my favorite "chile relleno," even though i'm slightly ashamed to call it such after having "real" ones in California and Mexico. A stuffed pepper is a stuffed pepper, right? :)

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Devourer

                                                                      Right. Instead of calling Mexican ones real (and of course they are), you might just have introduced the mid-American version to us all. Be proud, get the recipe, open a restaurant, get rich!

                                                                      1. re: Devourer


                                                                        All chile relleno are stuffed peppers, but not all stuffed peppers are chile rellenos. Many cultures stuff peppers - calling a Thai "Prik Yat Sai" "Chile Relleno" would not be appropriate so why is calling a ground beef filled bell pepper (a common Middle America dish) "chile relleno" acceptable?

                                                                        I grew up eating both and no-one ever confused the two, its like calling an orange a tangerine and then saying they're both orange and citrus so there the same thing, right? WRONG.

                                                                        (Regarding the chile relleno described above, maybe it was served in a "Mexican" restaurant and the "seasoned" part was with Mexican spices but it doesn't sound like it was a chile relleno, it sounds like Devourer was scammed.)

                                                                        1. re: larochelle

                                                                          I have always refereed to sweet peppers as pimenton dulce whether they be red, green or somewhere in the middle. So indeed what was described above was Not a chile relleno but a pimenton dulce relleno, but if it tasted good to the Devourer then she wasn't scammed, she was just misinformed.

                                                                          1. re: larochelle

                                                                            I'm with Sam... plus, I think it was more of a rhetorical point

                                                                            1. re: larochelle

                                                                              "Stuffed capsicum", then. All peppers are capsicums (capsica?).

                                                                              And, were I having to describe prik yat sai to a California I'd totally call it a "Thai chile relleno but without the egg dip".

                                                                          2. Photo here of a Chile Relleno al Frijol, as served at the Restaurant Cha Cha Cha in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México: http://lh6.google.com/image/doncuevas...

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Anonimo

                                                                              Thanks for the picture, Anonimo.
                                                                              Could I ask if it is enfrijolades or stuffed with beans? -- I can't make it out.

                                                                              What type of bean was used? How common is Chile Rellenos with beans?

                                                                              I asked the Oaxacan cook at the restaurant I work at about bean-stuffed chiles -- he oddly never heard of them.

                                                                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                                kare_raisu, I can't recall for certain, but I think it was cheese-stuffed and covered in a black bean sauce. I have emailed the co-owner, Rick Davis, to see if he would comment on this.
                                                                                This may be a "Cocina Nueva" interpretation of a classic Mexican dish.
                                                                                While we're waiting, here are some more photos of Restaurant Cha Cha Cha:

                                                                            2. Around here it's most often poblano. We've done it with Hatch, when we get our sack at harvest time from our friend in those parts, but only after roasting. They're tasty, but not "true" IMO. Dh loves relleno and gets it as his "test" dish at every Mexican restaurant we try. I've seen it every which way but loose. But his favorite (albeit non-traditional in topping) is a queso covered relleno (made from poblano) that he gets locally once a month or so.

                                                                              1. This is some info i found when searching for a corn meal using recipe:

                                                                                ...but the one that is most often used in restaurants is the Anaheim,
                                                                                mainly due to Col. Ortega's trek in 1906 from New Mexico to Oxnard,
                                                                                California, and later to Anaheim, where he developed a technique
                                                                                for roasting and peeling chiles mechanically.