Cinco de Mayo: Chile Rellenos

I grew up in LA, and so it makes sense then that LA-style mexican food is one of my favorite things on this whole planet. I’m talking about a 2-item combo from El Cholo with a shredded beef hard-shell taco and a cheese enchilada. That was my go-to at just about any mexican place in Southern California for a really long time.  But then, one glorious day, I was at a place in San Clemente that allegedly had amazing chile rellenos, so I decided to do one of those instead of an enchilada on my combo plate. And there was no looking back. I had tried one as a child and thought “meh,” and then for whatever reason I just always had them in my Meh category without another thought. My friends, do not put these in your Meh category, cause these are some cheesy spicy goodness that you do not want to pass up.


4 chile peppers; poblano or anaheim

1-1.25 lb grated cheese; use a combo like pepper jack and oaxacan or queso quesadilla, etc.

4 eggs, separated

oil for cooking



– Make a small incision at the top of each pepper, and then slice in moving downward about 1/2-3/4 way down the pepper, forming a T. If you go a little further, that’s ok, just try not to totally split it in half.


– Use a paring knife to cut out the seeds. Feel free to leave some of the white part, you just don’t want to be chomping on the seeds.

20150502_130010 20150502_130004

– Roast the peppers over open flame on your burner (or use the broiler if you have a electric stove) until blackened.



– Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (or put into a ziploc bag, I suppose, though it seems like a waste of a bag to me). Set aside until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes, and then peel the skin off. Be careful, it’s easy to mangle them at this point (especially if margaritas are involved, as they were in my case).

One of these didn't quite make it, can you guess which one?
One of these didn’t quite make it, can you guess which one?

– Take your grated cheese mix and stuff each pepper as full as you can while still being able to bring the edges together. Use toothpicks to close them up. Use as many or as few as you need.

Evidence of margaritas.
Evidence of margaritas.

– Separate your eggs (1 per chile). Whisk the yellows until they are a roughly even consistency. Then whisk the whites (completely separately) until you get soft peaks when you pull the whisk out. Then fold the two together.

Egg batter, ready for rellenos.
Egg batter, ready for rellenos.

– Turn your skillet on to medium high heat, and add some oil. Once hot, lay down a scoop of egg batter into the pan, covering an area just larger than the peppers. Immediately lay a pepper on top, seam-side down, and then scoop a little more batter on top. Once the bottom is browned, flip the whole thing. Then when it’s browned on the other side, it’s done. If you scooped on a little too much egg, hold the relleno with it’s side on the skillet to cook any undone edges.



– Serve with a little extra cheese, rice, beans, and some verde sauce. Oh, and definitely some margaritas.

A thing of beauty.
A thing of beauty.
Oozing cheese is one of my favorite things.
Oozing cheese is one of my favorite things.


Paul Harrison is a NYC-based recipe developer and professional whiskey drinker. He writes for Food Republic, and keeps some of his other recipes and ideas relating to food here.

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