Chile rellenos: Ur doin it wrong?
July 11, 2013 7:28 PM   Subscribe

My favorite lunch at my favorite cheapo Mexican place is their chile relleno. However, it's unlike any chile relleno I've had anywhere else, or any I've seen in recipes online. I'm not complaining, but wondering if maybe what they're serving is actually supposed to be called something else?

Most chiles rellenos I've had at other restaurants consist of an essentially intact pepper filled with yummy stuff, batter- or egg-dipped and covered with sauce. The chile relleno at this place comes on a small plate and seems to consist of cheese and what I can only describe as some kind of salty, delicious goop smothering a small slice of a not-very-spicy pepper. I asked a server once and he said the goop had ground beef in it, but the consistency is more like a paste. (I realize my description might sound kind of horrifying but good golly, this stuff is good. And really unhealthy.)

Does this sound familiar to anyone, as either a chile relleno you've had or some other dish? Or have I found someone's deliciously incorrect interpretation?
posted by Sweetie Darling to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That sorta sounds like some version of queso fundido.
posted by PMdixon at 7:39 PM on July 11, 2013

Not sure if it's a true chile relleno, but I am in NC, and most of the Mexican restaurants here serve one closer to what you described. One of them even chops the pepper up, so you have a cheesy beef mixture atop diced peppers.

I think of it like ACP. Almost every Mexican restaurant makes one, but each one is a little different.
posted by nohaybanda at 7:46 PM on July 11, 2013

Is the goop "fluffy"? I've had a chile relleno before that had a covering that was kind of light and fluffy and was apparently mostly egg. It was so unlike others I've had that I assumed it was "inauthentic" but a friend from El Paso said that was how they're done there. It was definitely tasty, and ruined me for every relleno with a dense flat fried shell.

Closest pic I can find from a Google Image Search:
posted by glhaynes at 7:52 PM on July 11, 2013

Upon consideration, maybe you're describing the opposite of what I am. Hey, different rellenos for different folks.
posted by glhaynes at 8:02 PM on July 11, 2013

The chiles rellenos I was first introduced to were basically a cheesy, chili-studded egg casserole.
posted by Andrhia at 8:56 PM on July 11, 2013

chile relleno means 'filled chile', so if it the goop wasn't inside the pepper, it ain't relleno.
posted by empath at 9:40 PM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah that sounds like my grandma's chile rellenos casserole that she makes for breakfast. In the microwave. With evaporated milk. And Velveeta.

I won't subject you to the horror, but Ree Drummond has a similar (but less trashy) recipe.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:46 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sounds like a variation on rajas to me.
posted by Kitteh at 4:09 AM on July 12, 2013

Almost every Mexican restaurant makes one, but each one is a little different.

Also, considering that Mexico is a big and diverse country that serves chiles in various ways throughout, the answer can be that both your place and all the others are "authentic" recipes.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:55 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here in Augusta, GA it is much the same way. Typically the "chile relleno" that is part of a combo plate is as you describe, and if they have a "chile poblano" on the menu it is more like what you and I think of as a chile relleno.

I don't have an explanation, but you are not alone in your observation.
posted by TedW at 6:00 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I grew up in Southern California and now live in NC and this has driven me crazy too. I've found that they sometimes have the real version at restaurants where everyone speaks Spanish.
posted by JuliaKM at 6:40 AM on July 12, 2013

My husband is from Colorado, and we now live in NC. He swears he has not had a "real" chile relleno since he's been here. My take is that in this area certain peppers are harder to get/more expensive, and a lot of times I have seen them made with regular green peppers instead of the authentic long peppers.

(Can't find an authentic sopapilla here either. Despite the fact almost all of the Mexican restaurants here are run by actual Mexican people. )

So, in other words, depending on region, recipes get tweaked.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:33 AM on July 12, 2013

It sounds more like Machacha to me. Chiles, meat and goey cheese.

I lived in Arizona for over a decade and to my understanding Chile Relleno is a whole, roasted poblano chile, with the skin rubbed off, stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg and fried, served with a sauce on top.

I as has been pointed out Relleno means 'stuffed'. You may have a 'deconstructed' Relleno, but that's just...stupid.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:49 AM on July 12, 2013

Chiles en nogada is one of the most famous and traditional recipes of chiles rellenos. The pepper is stuffed with minced meat and pieces of fruit, and covered with a walnut creamy sauce and pomegranate seeds. In this case, the goop over the chile is as important as the stuffing, if not more. This is a seasonal plate, it is served in July and August.

You don't mention stuffing or pomegranate seeds, so it seems you had a different thing, but there are traditional recipes where the pepper is covered with some sort of sauce or goop.
posted by clearlydemon at 11:14 PM on July 12, 2013

This also reminds me of some adaptations of chile rellenos that use canned chillies, as fresh were pretty hard to find in various points in the US even just 10 years ago. What ends up in the can are more like strips, than intact pepper pods. This is something my Texas grandma would have made in the 70s.
posted by fontophilic at 9:04 AM on July 14, 2013

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