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Chile Relleno Casserole Recipe
by Cristina

Making true, authentic chile rellenos involves frying. It’s a labor of love and quite a process making them…roasting chiles and preparing them, stuffing the chiles with cheese, flour them and dip in egg mixture, deep fry them and then add to a big pot of sauce. Sometimes we’d be over generous stuffing the peppers and cheese would ooze out of the relleno while deep frying, making cracking sounds and dangerous oil splattering. (My dad used to say “I’m feeling like an overstuffed chile relleno” after a good meal and full stomach.)

Chile Rellenos are so flavorful and delicious! I grew up with my Mom and Aunts making huge pots of chile rellenos for family gatherings. It was a lot of work. When I got married and had the hankerin’ for one of my very favorite dishes, it was a meal that had to be planned for the weekend. Even though I was just cooking for me and my husband, I’d make as many as the peppers I could get a hold of since I was going through the laborious process.

Not “too” long ago, my Mom shared this casserole recipe with me. I was very skeptical and couldn’t believe there could be anything as good as the real thing. While I still occasionally make the chile rellenos I enjoyed growing up, I appreciate the genius of this casserole AND that there’s no deep frying! It’s a great dish and one that reheats well for leftovers. I’ve made changes to the recipe for a healthier, fresher and more flavorful version by using fresh peppers versus canned and making my own sauce instead of using canned enchilada sauce. I’m positive you’ll appreciate the couple of extra steps to achieve a more healthy and flavorful dish.

The original handed-down casserole recipe called for 1 large can of Ortega chiles. When the chiles soak in their own juices for an extended period of time, it changes the flavor. I strongly recommend using fresh peppers.

Grilling the peppers on an outdoor grill makes the roasting process quick and less mess on your stove top.

When shopping for Anaheim peppers for Chile Rellenos, select peppers that are straight and less curvaceous. It will make grilling them evenly easier.

Making your own sauce either with fresh, stewed tomatoes or using a can of whole peeled tomatoes gives you much more control of the flavors and how much salt is used.

Make extra sauce to pour over individual servings and maybe drizzling some on your Spanish Rice accompaniment.

Sprinkle crumbled Cotija cheese on top of each serving for that great cheese flavor and aesthetics.

Chile Relleno Casserole

source Cristina from TeenieCakes.com

Ingredients

8-10 Anaheim peppers

Sauce

Directions

Roast the peppers: Using a grill or gas burners, roast the peppers until blackened. After roasting each pepper, place in plastic bag while roasting the others and allow to steam within the bag. When all the peppers are roasted, cut the stems off, split open and clean the roasted peppers by pulling out the seeds and membrane and peeling/sliding the skins off (it helps to run the peppers under cold water while peeling). Dry the clean peppers with paper towels and set aside.

Chile Relleno Prep – Roasting the Peppers

Make the Sauce: In a medium-sized saucepan, sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until transparent. Add the whole peeled tomatoes and its juices, salt and pepper and simmer on medium-low heat until slightly thickened (about 10-15 minutes).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 13″ x 9″ baking dish by spraying non-stick spray along the bottom and sides. Line bottom of pan with half of the prepared peppers. Evenly distribute 2 1/4 cups of the cheese on top of the first layer of peppers. Repeat with the rest of the peppers and cheese (your last layer will be cheese).

Chile Relleno Prep – Layering

Beat egg whites until a soft peak forms. Mix together the milk, flour, egg yolks & salt and pepper. Blend the milk mixture with the egg whites. Pour over the layers of peppers and cheese.

Chile Relleno Prep – Egg Mixture

Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and evenly distribute the sauce over the top. Return the baking dish to the oven for another 30 minutes. Let set about 5-8 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with crumbled cotija cheese, serve warm with Spanish Rice and Salsa. Enjoy!