June 9, 2011

A Delicious Take on a Mexican Favorite: Chiles Rellenos with Arroz Rojo

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Recently we acquired a cook book by Rick Bayless. Similar to the Mario Batali's Molto Gusto, Bayless's  Mexico One Plate at a Time is a wonderful way to explore a culture through it's food. Bayless provides excellent details on each dish, easy to follow yet comprehensive directions, and most importantly, the results are outstanding. Despite what seems like a fairly simple combination of few ingredients, the result ends up being complex, authentic tasting, and delicious. After only a few tries this book has really helped us to improve our mastery of authentic Mexican cuisine.

And I have improved my mastery of this new toy!

This chicken and mushroom stuffed chile dish is a contemporary take on the classic chiles rellenos. It's not breaded or fried, nor is there any cheese used, so it's actually quite healthy as well as being delicious and filling. Bayless calls to bake them with a touch of cream in addition to the tomato sauce, but we opted to take that out to reduce the fat content. And while at first the directions may seem somewhat complicated, after the first take you'll see it's actually a fairly straightforward preparation!

Making the Chiles Rellenos

What You'll Need
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 half white onion
1 15 oz can whole tomatoes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup sliced stemmed shiitake mushrooms
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
chicken thighs
1 cup sliced spinach
1/2 cup chicken broth
poblano chiles

Start with sauce. Chop the onions into a small dice and sauté them in oil. While the onions are browning, add the canned tomatoes to a food processor and puree until smooth. After onions have turned and started to caramelize slightly, add the tomatoes to the pan, followed by the cinnamon and pepper, and stir to incorporate.

The onions and tomato sauce, seasoned with cinnamon.
Bring to a boil and continue at a rolling simmer, stirring regularly, until the sauce has reduced to a thick consistency. This should take about 10 minutes or so. You'll use this for the filling and topping of the chiles rellenos.

Sliced shiitake mushrooms.
While the sauce is reducing, make the filling. Stem and slice the shiitakes into thin strips and sauté until they're golden. When all the rendered water has evaporated and they've started to caramelize slightly, stir in half of the tomato mixture from the other pan, and cook down slightly.

Adding the chicken and sliced spinach into the tomato and mushroom mixture.
Add in the cooked shredded chicken and the thinly sliced spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted and the chicken is warm.

The finished chiles rellenos filling.
To finalize the tomato sauce, add the chicken broth to the remaining tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Partially cover and simmer while preparing the chiles.

Is it dinner time yet?
Under a broiler, roast the poblanos, about 7 minutes per side, so that the skin is charred. Let them rest under a kitchen towel for about five minutes, and then take off the skin. Carefully cut a slit down one side of the pepper, and remove the seeds from the inside. Rinse gently under water to make sure all the seeds are out.

Stuffing the pepper with the filling.
Once the seeds have been removed, you can fill the poblanos with the mushroom and chicken mixture. Fill them generously, and then reform the pepper.

Closing the stuffed chiles.
Place it seam side down in a baking dish, and cover with the tomato sauce. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Making the Arroz Rojo

Mexican red rice (arroz rojo) is a great accompaniment for this dish and can be prepared simultaneously. What you'll be doing is simply cooking the rice in a tomato and chicken broth, with some added vegetables.

Frying the rice in vegetable oil.
To make the broth, puree the the canned tomatoes and their juice, onion and garlic together until you have a smooth blend. Fry the rice in vegetable oil until it is somewhat crisp. Then add about a cup of the tomato broth and the chopped carrots.

Mixing the rice with the tomato broth.
Stir this together with the fried rice and cook until the liquid has reduced. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, add in the chicken broth. Stir again, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer at the lowest possible heat for about 20 - 30 minutes, until the rice has reached your desired level of doneness.

When done, remove from heat and top with peas, then cover again so that the peas can absorb the heat. Once the peas have warmed, fluff the rice with a form and stir to incorporate everything. Serve and enjoy!

The Result
Wow. We were both really impressed with how well this came out. The cinnamon adds a sweet but surprising spice. The mushrooms, tomato, spinach, and chicken work extremely well together and the rich flavor of the poblano is a wonderful way to pull it all together.

The arroz was surprisingly simple, and given the limited ingredients used and ease of preparation, a sure thing to go back to to accompany any Mexican side.

This is how we'll decide who gets the scraps!

If you're in the mood for something savory, a little spicy, and truly delicious, you should definitely give these chiles rellenos a try!

What's your favorite Mexican dish? Let us know in the comments!

Arroz Rojo

Adapted from a Recipe by

A delicious Mexican side.

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

(Serves: 3)

8 oz canned whole tomatoes
1/4 white onion
1 garlic clove undefined
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 whole carrot
1 serrano chile
1 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup brown rice

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog and the cats so I gave you an award.



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