Chile Rellenos

I was thinking about the word “voluptuous” today. It is such a fantastic word, similar to “bodacious”, which my husband defines as “a good thing, and there’s a lot of it”, it sounds like what it means. It even rolls off the tongue and lips in a voluptuous manner.

When I ask Ric which foods come to mind when I say the word “voluptuous”, he says, ” probably something Italian”. While the recipes in this particular blog are Mexican and voluptuous in their own right, Italian food…and women are voluptuous.

On a late afternoon in Santa Maria, a beautiful and quaint Italian seaside village just up the road from the more glitzy Portofino, my son, nephew and I were standing on the corner deciding where to go for a bite to eat. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a woman who I had seen in town earlier in the day in her work attire. When I saw her in the morning, she was in a fitted navy blue uniform, looking smart with her hair tucked up under her cap and dark aviator sunglasses hiding her eyes.

And now, as she walked towards us in a bikini with a sarong the size of a handkerchief slung loosely around her hips, her honey blonde waves of hair blowing in slow motion in the wind and those aviator glasses, the only remnant of her professional outfit, I watched my two “boys” tracking her as she made her way down to the beach. After she passed us they both looked at each other and smiled, communicating in that unspoken man-language that they think us women don’t understand, even though most of us are completely fluent. Amused, I said “I saw that woman earlier today. Guess what? She’s a cop.” and they both turned to look at her backside as she sauntered towards the ocean and I heard an audible “so hot” escape from one of their mouths. The Italian girl, the colors of Italy, the food…absolutely, voluptuous.

Art can be voluptuous, think of Paul Gauguin, Diego Rivera, Fernando Botero, and Georgia O’Keefe’s works – full, curvaceous, rich with saturated colors and luxurious lines.

Mangos are voluptuous, sweet and juicy, they taste like flowers smell and I can’t seem to eat one without making a delicious mess, as is Latin cuisine, with its hot and spicy flavors mixed with the lusciousness of creamy avocados and cheeses.

To me, cooking a meal and taking the time, nurturing the ingredients into a state of edible beauty…voluptuous.

Chile Rellenos con Papas

INGREDIENTS

6 poblano chiles, roasted
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and boiled until soft (30-40 minutes)
2 cloves garlic, minced or run through a garlic press
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 cup Cotija cheese, grated
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Place the still hot cooked potatoes, garlic, milk, oil and butter in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Let cool until warm. Add cheeses and parsley and stir until mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Starting one half inch from the stem of the pepper, make a cut in the chiles going down the length of the poblano ending a half inch from the bottom of the pepper. Carefully dislodge and remove all of the seeds (do this under running water as the oils from the peppers can be strong and make you cough and sneeze). Place peppers on paper towels, cut side down, to dry.

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a small spoon, fill the peppers with the potato mixture to the point of almost overflowing and gaping open. Top off with a sprinkle of both cheeses.

Heat in oven for 15-20 minutes or until bubbling and just browning on top. Serve with warm ranchero sauce and sour cream.

Chicken Chile Rellenos

INGREDIENTS

1 whole rotisserie or smoked chicken, pulled and shredded (3 cups)
6 poblano chilies, roasted
1/2 jalapeno chile, roasted, seeded and minced
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped coarse
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika or chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup Montery Jack cheese, grated
1/2 cup Cotija cheese, grated
Cooking oil – enough to fill your saucepan to a 1 inch depth.

DIRECTIONS
Starting one half inch from the stem of the pepper, make a cut in the chiles going down the length of the poblano ending a half inch from the bottom of the pepper. Carefully dislodge and remove all of the seeds (do this under running water as the oils from the peppers can be strong and make you cough and sneeze). Place peppers on papertowels, cut side down, to dry.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, and cook a few minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and the cumin for about 30 seconds and then add the chicken, tomatoes and jalapeno and mix until well combined. Sprinkle the paprika or chile powder over the chicken and stir. Set aside to cool until warm.
When the chicken mixture is warm enough to handle, add the cheeses and mix gently to distribute the cheese.

Fill the peppers with just enough of the chicken mixture to fill them but still allowing them to close when the edges are pressed together. You can secure with a toothpick, but I find that it isn’t really necessary.

Preparing the dipping batter:
6 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons flour, plus 1 cup for dredging peppers
1 teaspoon salt

Beat egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, and then gently fold in egg yolks two at a time. Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of flour on top of eggs and mix in.

Heat the oil to about 350 degrees or until a small spoonful of batter bubbles and floats when it is dropped in the oil.

Place the 1 cup of flour on a plate or tray and have a baking tray lined with paper towels close by.

Dredge the peppers in the flour and then, holding onto the stem, dip in the batter, making sure they are completely coated. Carefully place the pepper into the hot oil.

Using a large spoon, gently baste the top and sides of the peppers with the hot oil. Once the bottom of the peppers are browned, with two spatulas or tongs, flip the pepper over and cook until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain.
Serve with warm ranchero sauce, sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese.

Please share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you!

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