Friday, June 30, 2006

Chile Rellenos

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but something about summer just makes me NOT want to spend much time in the kitchen. Heat and summer laziness are the main reasons. So you know what we bloggers do when we find ourselves in a I-have-nothing-to-blog-about pickle? We turn to our photo archives! While I was sifting through mine, I found these pics of a mouthwatering meal that my parents made for us at our house a couple months back. Perfect!

My mom has been making us chile rellenos since we were about eight years old. When I was that age, we had just moved from Arkansas to Los Angeles. What were we doing in Arkansas, you ask? Well, we emigrated from Japan and my father's parents lived there, so it seemed like a natural place to go. And natural it was. Forests, stick bugs, miles between houses and snow days; one high school and no alcohol in the county. After living her entire life in Osaka and Tokyo, my mom probably had the worst culture shock of her life. Luckily, my sister and I that were only five years old at the time and enjoyed seeing deer in the backyard and picking berries from bushes on the side of the road so we didn't mind at all. My parents didn't HATE it and Arkansas certainly has it's charms, but it wasn't the place that they wanted to settle. After three years of not being able to get sushi and having to drive across state lines for wine, my parents packed up the furniture, us, Kitty and Puppy (seriously- how creative are those pet names??) and hit the road to California. Once we arrived in Temple City, we rented a house with a huge backyard full of fruit trees and a renter named Joe in the guesthouse. It was the beginning of our new life....and our introduction to the chile relleno.

Not a relleno but the rice you can eat with one!

Joe was probably in his late 20's (although you know how it is to a kid- all adults are just, well, adults) and of Mexican descent. He quickly became our friend and one day invited us to eat dinner with him. He made his mom's chile rellenos and my parents were instantly hooked. We've since learned that not all chile rellenos are created equal. While we loved the Joe Chile Relleno, we discovered that the average restaurant relleno was filled with cheese....and cheese. You see, Joe's mom's version contained a savory mixture of ground meat, cheese and seasonings so you don't just bite into a thick mass of cheese. Luckily my mom asked for the recipe and she's been making them ever since. I just got the recipe from her so I thought I would share it with all of you. Hopefully Joe's mom won't mind!

Also not a relleno but goes well with one!

Again, no rellenos in this photo but a beautiful, creamy flan, courtesy of my dad!

It's been about 22 years (eek!) since we moved out of that house and we've long since lost touch with Joe but if he's out there, I'd like to give a shout out to him and his mom (although not to his little dog who BIT me when I was nine!) and say thanks for introducing my family to a real chile relleno. It's still the best chile relleno we've ever had!

Joe's Mom's Chili Rellenos (with Tokyoastrogirl's mom's notes)
(recipe from 1981)

1/2 lb ground meat (we use lean beef sirloin, ground)
1/4~1/2 bunch minced cilantro
1 chopped onion
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp cayanne (more or less)
1/4 lb each Monterey Jack & Colby Longhorn cheeese, diced

Anaheim or Pacilla chili (roasted black, then peeled, seeded)
Peanut Oil
Eggs, beaten
Flour for coating

{ I usually double the recipe, makes about 20~24 chili Rellenos}

1. Brown meat, drain, add spices and 1/4 cup water, simmer 10 ~15 minutes, completely cool.
2. Dice cheeses, mince cilantro and mix them with meat - put this filling in a bowl, cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate.
3. Roast chilis, skin and seed
4. Stuff chilis - then return to refrigerator until ready to fry - this makes the rest of the work so much easier since the stuffed
chili is firmer .
5. Roll in flour, egg, then flour again, and pan fry in peanut oil until outside becomes crisp, brown.

My parents' dogs, Molly and Monk, hoping to get in on the relleno action.


1 comment:

carlyn said...

Thank you so much for the recipe!!! ...and the family history. This recipe sounds great and I will attempt to try it at some point soon. We don't have great access to chilis, though. I live in New England for heaven's sake!!!!! But, I will try as this looks so wonderful....