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Experiments with Chiles Rellenos

Like most of us in California, I grew up eating battered and fried chile rellenos, stuffed mostly with gooey cheese but occasionally with picadillo. I recently found a rare copy of the out of print Los Chiles Rellenos en Mexico by Mexico City's brilliant Ricardo Muñoz Zurita and was inspired to think beyond deep frying and experiment with poblano chiles. Preparing chiles for stuffing is easy enough, especially after you've done it a number of times. The Rancho Gordo website has instructions written a few years ago but they're still valid. Nowadays I tend to roast the chiles in a hot dry skillet and finish off any little crevices with a blow torch. This first chile filling was made by sauteing an onion and a chopped serrano chile with some oil and Mexican oregano. When soft, I added some cubed zucchini and frozen corn kernels. It's April and to be honest, I've been buying seasonal for so long it was a little odd buying zucchini and corn at this time of year. I got over it. I then added a cup of cooked Flor de Junio beans and tossed the mixture gently. Apr_2007115 This would have been a lovely little dish but who wants lovely when you can have glorious? I packed the opening with grated Manchego cheese and then popped the chiles into a toaster oven until the cheese had melted. Apr_2007116 Readers, this was just great! And it opens doors about stuffing chiles. You might even try this inside a bell pepper, but I'd just suggest you get a ripe red one rather than a watery green pepper. It will taste better and imagine the beauty of a stuffed red pepper chock-a-block full of summer vegetables. To be continued.

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