One of Mexicos most best-known dishes Chile Rellenos (stuffed chiles) is often prepared with fresh poblanos fried in light batter and heated in tomato sauce but there are many regional variances on this popular dish. Jalapeno, manzano, dried pasado, pasilla de Oaxaca, and chili ancho take your pick.
Although I'm a big fan of the battered poblano recipe I wanted to try something different with the poblanos dried cousin the chile ancho. I was soon inspired by a creation of Ricardo Munoz Zurita on the Rick Bayless show "Mexico - One Plate at a Time". How can I go wrong with a the culinary genius of Ricardo Zurita. Ricardo is the chef behind Mexico City's Azul y Oro and author of 4 cookbooks including the 600-page Encyclopedia of Mexican Gastronomy.
This recipe was not listed on Rick Bayless site and the exact measurements were not discussed so we pretty much had to eyeball it and take notes.
12 Chiles Ancho (Always purchase a few more then you need some might fall apart when you are removing seeds and veins)
4 very ripe Plantains
4-5 Garlic cloves crushed
1 whole chopped onion
3 chopped roma tomatoes
3/4 pound of panela chesse
1 small piloncillo cone
1/2 cup of grated piloncillo
dash of salt
dash of pepper
(Piloncillo is an unrefined sugar from Mexico produced in "cone" shapes of various sizes)
1 pound of Mexican Crema
Dissolve the whole cone of piloncillo in hot water, cover the chiles in the hot water, pushing them down into the water so that they are totally submerged. Soak for 10 min, Ricardo recommended 5 min but we did not achieve the level of softness we were looking for. You also do not want to soak the chiles to long or they will get to soft and fall apart.
Remove the chiles from water and carefully make a slit on one side and remove veins and seeds. Make sure the stem does not fall off and try not to tear the chile.
Bake the plantains for 10 min at 350
Chop tomatoes, queso panela and onions, crush the garlic and ground 1/2 cup of piloncillo. Remove plantains from oven and chop into cubes.
Heat oil and saute onion and garlic. Add tomato and cook for 5 min. Add plantains and cook for another 10 min. Add piloncillo powder, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper and mix well. Remove from heat and add queso panela.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of filling to each chile ancho. Fold crease over and place on a plate with crease down. Garnish with Crema and Parsley.
As I was shooting the final shots I caved in and took a bite.
The Chile Ancho is mild in spice and has somewhat of a fruity flavor. The flavor profile of the ancho played well with the plantains and we were very pleased with the results. I have been craving Chiles en Nogada but they are not in season yet so this was a nice alternative that is much easier to make. I guess we will have to go for the trifecta and feature the ever so popular battered Chile Rellenos soon.
Chiles en Nogada