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by Razorgumbo Gameday Grub
The perfect bite of our homemade Chili Rellenos
ARKANSAS VS. SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI
I’d like to say the Razorback blessing before delving into this scrumptious meal. For Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams, Bret Bielema, Kiero Small and some sundry tight ends, we are thankful. For a fourth quarter of domination after worries that we’d be crushed by a Division 2 team, glory be. Now, considering the last 14 games played by Southern Miss, and all we have been through here, let’s just go whip some ass this week, okay? And let’s do it in Razorgumbo style.
What you are about to experience here will make for a perfect Razorback watch party at the house, but this one is not going to work at an outdoor tailgate. So this one is for all the people who can’t make the trip to Fayetteville this week — or at some future time.
Also, I’m gleefully divulging that this entire article is an homage to the American master of Mexican cuisine, Rick Bayless. The recipe for rellenos was pulled from his masterful book "Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking From the Heart of Mexico," which is the book to read if you want to master the fundamentals of authentic Mexican cooking. The incredible master-class margarita is from his book "Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks." I will probably come back to these books before the season is done. Please buy his books.
Finally, check out the Razorback dishes we now proudly own at Razorgumbo! Pigs on the plates make the food taste better.
First and Ten: Cheese-Stuffed Chili Rellenos
Let’s start with the sauce:
Brothy Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chile Sauce
- 28-ounce can of good-quality tomatoes, drained (yes, fresh is better, but we are doing a lot of work to make this meal and this one shortcut is acceptable)
- Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 3 to 5 serranos or 2 to 3 jalapenos), stemmed
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
- 1-1/2 cups beef or pork broth
- Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
Seed the chilies for a mild sauce, since this is going over another pepper and we want to be cautious on your heat exposure. Chop the chilies into small bits and add to a food processor or blender, along with the onion, garlic and drained tomatoes. Puree, but retain a little texture.
Heat the lard or oil in a medium-large skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot enough to make a drop of the puree really sizzle, add all of the puree to the pan and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, as the puree sears and cooks into a thicker, more orange-colored sauce. Add the stock and incorporate well, then add salt as needed afterward, based on whether the stock was salty or not. Set this sauce aside and keep warm on low temperature.
These are the charred peppers after peeling
- 8 large, fresh chili poblanos
- Oil to depth of 3/4 inch, for frying
- About 1/4 cup flour, plus another tablespoon for the eggs
- 4 cups grated melting cheese (Monterey Jack, or queso fresco if you want to be more authentic)
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Roast the chilies, either on a barbecue grill outside or in the oven, as close to the broiler element as possible, on the broil setting. Keep a close eye on them, turning a few times, because the idea is to roast them until they are black all over, then stop and let them cool. Get the entire pepper black. In order to peel them easily, they can’t be splotchy.
When cooled, pop them under water and then peel the black skin off them, being careful to keep the stems on. Then put a lengthwise slit in each pepper and carefully reach in to peel or scoop out the seeds.
The poblanos have now been stuffed with the little cheese torpedos.
Form the cheese into 8 ovals, then slip the ovals into the peppers and close the slit.
Spread about 1.4 cup flour onto a plate, then roll the chili in it and shake off the excess. Separate the eggs: the whites into a clean mixing bowl, yolks into a small dish. Add the salt to the egg whites, then beat them with a whisk or electric mixer set at medium until they are just stiff enough to hold a peak. Gently beat in the yolks one at a time, followed by the extra tablespoon of flour. Stop beating when the flour is incorporated.
The batter for the rellonos
Bring the oil to 375F. Holding the chili by its stem, dip it completely into the egg batter, draw it out quickly, then lay it into the hot oil. Batter 2 or 3 more chilies and lay them in the oil. If a chili doesn’t have a stem, set it on a fork and dip into in the the batter, then roll it off into the oil.
When the chilies are brown underneath, gently roll them over and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven. Batter and fry the remaining chilies, then drain with the others.
Now the peppers have been fried in the batter
Ladle about 3/4 cup of the brothy sauce onto four plates, top the sauce with two chilies, then spoon a dribble of the sauce across the middle of each chili for decoration. Lay a spring of parsley between the chilies and serve.
The perfect complement to this dish is Mexican rice, but I won’t get into that here. If you want to make it, go for it! This blog entry is long enough as it stands.
The rellenos, nestled in our brothy sauce next to some Mexican rice
Oh my God.
Misdirection Play: Mango-Basil Margaritas
This baby was a lot of work but it sure was worth it.
Admittedly, this recipe is involved. You have to make special salt, a special syrup and a mango puree. However, if you really want to impress guests, it is totally worth it! And heck, you can skip the special salt if need be to get this sucker done.
- Basil Salt (see below) or coarse kosher salt
- 1 lime wedge
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- 3 oz. 100 percent blue agave blanco tequila
- 1-1/2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 oz. triple sec
- 2 oz mango (or peach) puree (see notes below)
- 1-1/2 oz basil syrup (see below)
- 6-10 ice cubes
The Basil Sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 7-8 basil leaves, roughly chopped
Measure the sugar and 1/2 cup water into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Add the basil and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. cool and strain. Syrup keeps for several weeks in the fridge if tightly covered, and the leftovers can be drizzled over roasted fruit like peaches.
The Basil Salt
- 10 sprigs or about 70 leaves of basil
- 3/4 cup coarse (kosher) salt
Pull the basil leaves from the stems to get 2 loosely packed cups of leaves. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the leaves out on it in a single layer. Heat your oven to its lowest setting, then slide in the basil and heat it until the leaves are dry, about 30 minutes. Cool. Using a small food processor, an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, coarsely pulverize the dried basil to make about 2 tablespoons, then stir into the coarse salt.
Mango (or peach) Puree
Take 2 small, ripe mangoes or 3-4 ripe peaches, peel, remove the flesh from the pits, then roughly chop into 1-inch pieces to make about 2 cups. Scoop the fruit into a food processor or blender, add about 2 tablespoons sugar, cover and process until completely smooth. You can put this in the fridge for up to three days if tightly covered.
Ok, now for the drink itself! Enough prep already!
Spread the basil salt on a small plate. Moisten the rim of a martini glass with the lime wedge and upend the glass onto the mixture to crust the rim. In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the basil leaves with a wooden spoon or cocktail muddler until roughly mashed. Add the tequila, lime juice, triple sec, puree, basil syrup and ice. Cover and shake vigorously until frothy and cold. Tiny ice crystals will appear in the drink after about 15 seconds of shaking. Strain into the salt-crusted martini glass and serve immediately.
This is a bartender recipe to make one large or two small drinks at a time. Rick has a pitcher recipe in his book, too. I entourage you to buy the book, "Fronterra," as it is chock-full of fantastic treats.