Today’s recipe comes out of a cookbook I have been putting together for my parents. Something of a labor of love, A Taste of Banderas Bay brings together the flavors of the culinary haven that’s been etched in our family’s sense memory over the last couple decades. My parents have been vacationing in the Bay of Banderas for years, but a few years back they decided to find a place to call home in their favorite pocket of the world. Now they own a charmed spot in the village of Punta de Burra just half an hour up the coast from Puerto Vallarta.
Anytime I visit my family in Mexico, I always find myself in the kitchen, learning beside the expert hands of a generous and talented chef. Many recipes have been culled from Lupe at Villa Estrella Mar, and more recently from Elena, whose autodidactic genius is both inspired and captures the warmth of unparalleled Mexican hospitality.
Chile Rellenos are a recognizable favorite here in the States, but today’s recipe boasts authenticity and details that offer something new and revelatory in their efficiency and simplicity. Although Elena traditionally stuffs her chiles with cheese, I often opt to fill them with her divine poached chicken recipe when serving this dish as an entrée. You may have your own chile rellenos recipe, but I guarantee this authentic guide is a take on the classic that’s well worth a spot in your rotation.
If you’re looking for a wine pairing, I whole-heartedly recommend a French Cabernet Franc from the village of Chinon. This red beauty has the savory gusto to greet this chile-laden dish with utter perfection.
So, without further adieu…Elena’s Chile Rellenos.
Serves three. Feel free to double the recipe for six – these are great as leftovers.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 3/4 of a shallot, use 1/4 remaining shallot for the sauce
- 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
I like to prep my chicken ahead of everything for ideal timing. Place chicken, along with the remaining ingredients, in a stock pot then just cover the chicken with water. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer on medium-low until the chicken is cooked through. Save the chicken stock for future use and shred the chicken into thin strips.
- 4 tomatoes
- 4 dried red chiles (hatch red chiles are my favorite, guajillo are also great)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 a shallot, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sage
- salt and pepper, to taste
Place tomatoes, garlic cloves, shallot, dried red chiles, cumin, sage, salt and pepper in a pot then add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot. You want to reduce down the water to about half, but you don’t want the liquids to run dry. If need be, add more water as it simmers. Remove from the stovetop and puree in a blender. Pour half this mixture over the shredded chicken and mix until covered evenly. Set the remaining sauce aside to pour over the finished chiles.
- 6 poblano chiles
- 6 eggs
- oil (Elena uses canola, but I prefer avocado or olive oil)
- 3 tablespoons of flour (if you’re on keto – almond flour will suffice)
Wash the chiles. Slice them down the middle and carefully remove the seeds but not the stem – you want them to maintain their shape. Dry them then roast under your broiler, on both sides, until the skin begins to blacken. Place the chiles in a plastic bag to sweat for ten minutes. This makes removing the skins so much easier. Thanks, Elena, for such a fantastic hack!
Pour your oil into a frying pan and get it sputtering hot. Fill the chiles with the chicken mixture and close with a toothpick. Beat the eggs and cover the chiles with the batter then dust with flour. Sear the chiles in the hot oil for about 2 minutes a side. Arrange on a plate then drizzle with the remaining sauce and serve.