Total Time:1 hr 45 min
Active Time: 1 hr
Yield: 6 servings
6 Poblano Chiles
8 oz Miceli’s Mozzarella Cheese
1 ½ Cups All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dredging
1 ½ Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Fine Salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 (12 oz) Bottle or Can Lager-Style Beer
Vegetable Oil, for deep-frying
Mexican Tomato Sauce, wram, recipe follows
Mexican Tomato Sauce:
2 Pounds Ripe Tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
¼ Medium Yellow Onion
6 Cloves Garlic
5 Sprigs Fresh Coriander (cilantro)
1 Serrano Chile (with seeds)
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon (preferably Mexican)
Wooden Skewers about 6 inches long
Position a rack on the upper most shelf of the broiler element and preheat. Put the chiles on a foil-lined broiler pan and broil, turning occasionally with tongs, until the skin is charred, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a bowl, cover, and cool for 10 minutes.
Carefully rub the charred skin off the chiles. Using a small knife, make a lengthwise slit along the side of each chile to form a pocket. Carefully cut out and discard the seeds.
Cut the cheese into 6 (¼-inch-thick) slabs, about ¾ the length of each chile, (your chiles probably vary in length, so tailor the cheese to the chiles). Slip the cheese pieces into the pocket of each chile so theyre 2/3 full. (If the cheese protrudes from the chiles, just cut a little off.) “Sew” each chile shut with a wooden skewer or long toothpick. (The skewers should be longer than the chiles, so they can be easily pulled out after frying.)
Whisk the flour, baking powder, cumin, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the beer to make a smooth batter.
In a large, wide, heavy bottomed pot, pour in the oil to a depth of about 3 inches. Heat over medium heat unitl a deep fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 365 degrees F.
Put the flour for dredging on a plate. Working in 2 batches, dredge the chiles in the flour (the dampness of the chiles creates a light paste with the flour that seasl over any tears), dip in the batter, and carefully add the oil. Fry, turning the chiles once, until golden brown and crispy, about 4 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer the chiles rellenos to a dry paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Sprinkle with salt, to taste. Gently pull out and discard the skewers.
Heat the sauce. Spoon some of the sauce on a plate and set 1 chile rellano on top. Repeat with the remaining sauce and chiles. Serve.
Mexican Tomato Sauce:
In a blender, combine all the ingredients and puree until smooth.
Transfer the tomato puree to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until slightly thick, about 10 minutes.
“Why is it that we have allowed people who are totally incompetent in food to design our food?” Diana Kennedy was saying, her gray and white hair lifting lightly in the breeze. “Our food doesn’t have the flavor it used to have. I remember the chile poblanos, full of flavor, thin-fleshed, very dark green, and that big. Now ¡olvidalo!”
“Forget it,” she said. Today, there is actually a four in ten chance a chile poblano served to you anywhere in Mexico has been imported, most likely from China. Kennedy knows this, and the truth seems to burn through her entire being.
A living legend in food, Kennedy started exploring the markets of Mexico’s towns and villages more than fifty years ago, meeting cooks and gathering plants and recipes with the precision of a ethnobotanist. It has been her lifelong project of achieving total intimacy with Mexico’s native ingredients.
Sitting at Kennedy’s outdoor dining table with a tiny glass of mezcal before me, I struggled to imagine the flavor of the chile poblanos back then because fifty years ago, Mexico and the planet were simply different places than they are now. There were less people, for one, and probably a lot less contaminants in the air, in the soil, in the water. In our lives.
There was no transgenic corn in Mexico fifty years ago, and definitely none imported from the United States—as there is today—not in the land where science has agreed that corn was born.
At 91 years old, Diana is old enough to remember what that Mexico tasted like. Her palate fuels her ideas—and anger.
“People are losing taste, especially in the US, and then it passes to Mexico,” Kennedy told me. “It’s ridiculous, but then nobody has paid attention to the agriculture in Mexico.”
New York, New Jersey, and New England, we’re now serving our new Sofritas - organic shredded tofu braised with chipotle chiles, roasted poblano peppers, and a blend of spices - at a restaurant near you!