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What kind of chile relleno is this?

I usually think of a chile relleno as a Poblano pepper, stuffed with cheese, dipped in an egg batter and fried. The Mexican place I just went to served me a relleno that consisted of part of a bell pepper, stuffed with cheap awful-tasting ground beef, topped with equally cheap cheese, and baked. It was terrible. The sad thing is other places have tried to foist this cheap imitation on me. What's up?

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  1. Aynrandgirl, to me that sounds like a plain old stuffed pepper. Even Don Pablos will serve you the relleno as you described with a Poblano.

    1 Reply
    1. re: AlyKen

      The restaurant I went to wasn't a chain. Do they figure the stupid gringos won't know the difference? For one thing, poblanos aren't exactly spicy but they're a lot more flavorful than the baked bells they used, which are practically flavorless.

    2. Just had a chile relleno in Huatusco, Mexico, at the Sunday street market: filled with pig's foot. The "normal" was better.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        I'm in Mexico now, also, and we're just coming into chiles en nogada season- can't get enough of them!

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          was it s pickled foot? Roasted and fried pepper? or simply roasted? Caldillo?

          1. re: kare_raisu

            The foot was just cooked down to tenderness, stuffed into a pepper; the whole dipped in batter and then fried. I took photos and talked to cooks in their homes and comedors these last couple of trips to Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico. The chile rellenos, however, were prepped at home and brought to the market, so I couldn't get photos of the process.

        2. That is what my mom used to make and call "stuffed peppers."

          I sometimes make chiles rellenos at home with poblanos with a mixed vegetable stuffing (corn, sweet potato, onion, etc) and no batter frying. Just baked with a tomatillo sauce. Something lighter and different.

          1. The stuffed pepper relleno is the type that I recall growning up in Houston before they figured out the poblano variety. Here in central Mexico, rellenos are filled with just about anything and dipped in a very thin egg batter and fried. My favorites are chilies en nogada and chilies with refritos and chorizo. The cheese is put on after the thin tomato sauce and geneally doesn't melt.

            1. Many years ago it was common to use bell peppers for Chile Rellenos. My mother loved the dish; she made few attempts to cook Mexican food, but she did that one. After the publication of Diana Kennedy's Cuisines of Mexico in 1973, restauranteurs had to move to more authentic ingredients. There may still be some restaurants around that use bell pepper around here but they will be very old establishments catering to an earlier era. Today, poblanos are as common in supermarkets as green bell peppers add more common than red or yellow bell peppers.

              Chili relleno does not have to be made with a poblano; some are made with other chile peppers such as Anaheim or New Mexican.

              1 Reply
              1. re: brucesw

                As much disdain as I have for bell peppers.... just about any kind of chile can be used to make a chile relleno... and is used within Mexico. However... not all are created equal... and some are specialized.

                It should suffice to say... that while Bell Peppers (Chile Morron) aren't entirely unknown in Mexican kitchens they are a sign of one of two things:

                > The audience are Gachupines aka Criollos aka descendents of Spaniards that still relate greatly to Spain.


                > There is other freaking Chile around... and well you have to stoop sometimes!

              2. After eating these things in many different places over the years, I've come to believe that you can stuff any type of chile with any type of stuffing and someone will say that it is "authentic" where they come from. Personally, I prefer the battered, cheese-stuffed poblano.

                1 Reply
                1. re: pikawicca

                  That's exactly it. Chile relleno just means a stuffed pepper and there are untold variations this theme.

                2. An authentic Mexican chile relleno is roasted poblano with picadillo, made from beef, spices, and raisins, battered and pan-fried (never deep-fried) and served in a spicy tomato broth. A variation is stuffing with cheese. You have had a typical fake relleno, usually the product of chains but also just plain old lousy restaurants. www.littlecomptonmornings.blogspot.com

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: janeer

                    Janeer.... you have described just 1 of 100s of different types of authentic Chile Rellenos served in Mexico. Also... why do you think the Picadillo stuffed Poblano is the main version with cheese as a variation?

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Yep, those pig's feet chiles rellenos I mentioned above weren't the greatest, but they sure were "authentic". Their makers have probably not been out of the mountains of Veracruz.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Yeah, I remember those powerful little chiles de agua rellenos in Oaxaca. Nothing like the poblano kind.

                        1. re: Snackish

                          I used to look down the New Mexico Chile Rellenos... last week I found out my mom'
                          s town in highlands Jalisco traditionally uses Chilacas (as much as Poblanos).... New Mexico, Anaheim & California chiles are all very similar to Chilacas.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            And in Peru they stuff the hot Rocotos.

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              I think we might be able to safely say that, as long as there have been chiles big enough to stuff, people have been stuffing them.

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                Here's a photo of my post-Thanksgiving turkey-stuffed chile rellenos (with more details on the Home cooking board),
                                At the Mexican market, these red chiles were marked as "chilagas". I'm wondering if they are chilacas or chile de agua. I asked the man who was stocking produce which area of Mexico uses these, and he said Guadalajara. When I asked how hot they were, he pointed to the Anaheims and said they were about the same.


                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Here are some fun chile photos, including chiles de agua (the ones I had were green, though? they are pretty small, maybe 3 inches long) and "chilhuacas" which might be the same as chilagas. It's a big confusing chile world.


                                  1. re: Snackish

                                    Thank you, that's a great page. Google has pointed me to it several times when I'm looking for chile pepper info. These chiles were much bigger, more like 6" long, actually shaped and the same size as Anaheims but red.

                        2. Last summer, while on a poker weekend in Kansas City with my Dad and brothers, we ate at 3 different restaurants where there was a "chili relleno, tamale and taco" platter, which I ordered each time as a culinary experiment. While both the tamale and tacos were remarkably similar (pork stuffing in the tamale, beef taco meat with potatoes and onions) each of the relleno was different. Although all were apparently made with a poblano or similar pepper, one was ground beef and cheese, battered and fried served without adornment, one was beef only, in a thin egg batter and pan-fried and smothered with mild salsa, and the third was beef and cheese stuffed pepper with no batter and covered in queso sauce. Of the three, I liked the 2nd one best, but I respect the chef's vision to improvise, so long as you don't mess with the actual pepper and it's got some sort of covering/coating. Otherwise, it's just a stuffed pepper.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: podunkboy

                            And there are versions with a fluffy omelet coating.

                          2. "What kind of chile relleno is this?"

                            I would say a bad one.

                            1. My grandmother (I am now 71) taught me to make chile rellenos with bell peppers that were roasted and the skin removed. A slit was made in the side to remove seeds then chiles were filled with seasoned ground beef with chopped tomato and onion added. The chiles slit was sealed with toothpicks then floured and dipped into eggs that had been whipped until fluffy (white's first then add yellows and a little flour). The chile's were dipped into enough hot oil to fry until they were a golden color. Don't know where this recipe originated but this is our favorite way to eat chile rellenos.

                              1. I had them in NC like you described, disgusting. And the help all looked Latin. We figured they were just doing the cheapest thing possible. This was while travelling, never went back. There are several really good ones in Myrtle Beach, SC.