There really are few things as wondrous as a beautifully made chile relleno, that fresh poblano pepper, stuffed with cheese, dipped into an egg-y batter and deep fried until crisp and golden. I mean, when done well, they’re just ridiculously good and happen to be on my husband’s list of top 5 favorite foods of all time. Well, they were until we started to back off fried foods several years ago, and the chile relleno was moved to his list of favorite foods he doesn’t eat anymore.
Then a couple of years back I came across this recipe for what seemed to me to be pretty much a deconstructed chile relleno in casserole form. Unsure whether it would actually replace the beloved chile relleno in his life, I made it and got my answer with his first bite. Yes, folks, we were back in the chile relleno business. Well, sort of. I mean, there really is no substitute for a beautifully made chile relleno, but man, this is really good! And, I would venture to say, a worthy candidate for your Meatless Monday.
So, basically, we’re just taking all of those ingredients… grated cheese, beaten eggs, flour, milk, and roasted poblano chiles, layering them, topping it with a little tomatillo salsa, and then baking it off. The top gets slightly browned and crisp, which (if you have a real good imagination) will remind you of the fried exterior of a chile relleno. The inside is just a luscious, cheese-y, egg-y bit of deliciousness.
Depending on the amount of heat in your poblanos, which can be very unpredictable, this can be spicy or quite mild. I always taste my poblanos before I roast them, and if they’re on the mild side, I add a couple more than it calls for.
You may have noticed the amount of cheese in this recipe, so I have to ‘fess up here and admit that this isn’t exactly a low-cal dish. I will also tell you that I usually use less cheese than it calls for, and I’ve actually made this using nonfat milk and egg substitute, and it still comes out pretty good. But to get the full 3-D experience, you really should just make it as is. A chile relleno it is not. But we’re pretty OK with that.
Chile Relleno Bake
This is so delicious with roasted fresh poblano chiles, but feel free to substitute canned chiles if you're short on time. You will need 3 4-oz cans if you go that route.
6 oz grated cheddar
6 oz grated jack cheese
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour
1 2/3 cup whole milk
3 large poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and coarsely chopped or 3 4-oz cans diced mild green chiles
½ cup tomatillo salsa
Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350.
Place ¾ of the grated cheese in the bottom of your baking dish. Place the chopped chiles over the cheese.
Beat the eggs and slowly whisk in the flour, salt, then the milk and pour over cheese and chiles.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and then drizzle with the salsa. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes or until the center is set. Cool and cut into wedges.