Friday, June 24, 2011

Vegan Chili Rellenos? No Poblano!

Oh, Daiya, how I love thee.

Patrick recently informed me that Chili Rellenos are one of his favorite foods. Being from the Great State of Texas, he knows his stuff. However, being vegan for 15 years, he hasn't had the opportunity to enjoy a cheesy, breaded and fried stuffed chili in awhile.

But guess what?! Daiya came along and solved all my problems!

Credit card debt? THANKS DAIYA!

Leering guy on my walk to work who tried to hand me a dirty sock? THANKS DAIYA!

That Slurpee stain on Patrick's white t-shirt? THANKS DAIYA!

But, really, Daiya is awesome and I use it all the time. And I used it to make Chili Rellenos and they were so good that I am pretty sure I am going to become famous for them.

All right, let's do this.

First and foremost I had to do some Rellenos Research because I am not from Texas and up until very recently was not a big fan of Mexican food. Of course, that was because I was only eating rice and beans at the restaurant down the street. Once I started actually making my OWN Mexican food.... Well, now things are much different. THANKS DAIYA!

I decided to embark on the less healthy version of the relleno; breaded and fried. I also made a Ranchero sauce to top the peppers.

We used Poblano Chilis to stuff. They were so beautiful and deep green! I wanted to make them into earrings.

If you have a grill, fire it up and grill your peppers until the skin is soft and blackened. If you don't have a grill, preheat your oven to 400 or so, place the peppers directly on the rack and bake them for about 15-20 minutes. Remember to turn them periodically and keep an eye on them!

We started with our peppers on the grill, but it was taking too long and I was starving, so after about 10 minutes we moved them to the oven.

While the peppers cooked, I started the sauce.

Ranchero Sauce:

1 can of diced or stewed tomatoes (15 oz)
1 can of tomato sauce (15 oz)
I whole Jalapeno Pepper
1 whole Ancho Pepper
1 medium tomato - diced
1 onion - diced
1 bay leaf
Olive Oil
Garlic - I used probably 5 cloves because I love garlic, but use however much or little (psh) as you'd like
Oregano - about 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Cumin - about 1/2-1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Salt - see cumin
Pepper - see salt (sea salt! hahahahaha)

In a saucepan heat your oil and add your diced onion. Cook your onions for about 5 minutes until soft. Add your garlic and cook for another minute or so. Toss in all your spices, stir and cook for yet another minute. Add your fresh tomato, your can of sauce and your stewed/diced tomatoes. bring to a boil, reduce heat. If you like it spicy cut a slit in your jalapeno and ancho peppers and add the two whole peppers and the bay leave to the sauce. If you are afraid of spicy food, or if you have an ulcer or suffer from heart burn (well, you're probably not making chili rellenos, but whatever) then just add the peppers whole without the slit. Let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, then put a lid on it and forget about it for awhile. That is, as long as the heats on LOW.

Chili Rellenos Filling:

You can pretty much fill your chili with whatever you want. Many times people just fill their chili with cheese. I decided to fill mine with a handful of random things that were floating around in my fridge. Don't worry, random does not mean grossly inappropriate, like pickles and maraschino cherries.

1 cup brown rice
4 oz of Soy Rizo
1 onion
1 Ancho pepper (a pepper stuffed pepper with pepper sauce...mmmm!)
1/4 cup salsa

In your cast iron skillet, or wok if you're me, heat your Soy Rizo until it is less soft and more like a crumble. Add your onion and cook until translucent. Add your chopped ancho and rice. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add your salsa, stir and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and cool.

At this point in time your chilies should be ready to be skinned, which brings terrifying images into my head because I watch so many horror movies, but don't worry IT'S JUST A PEPPER! Hopefully they have been cooling on your counter top for a little bit, but if they are still piping hot then by all means let them cool! Take this time to have a shot of tequila, or make your batter.

Frying Batter:

1 cup of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup water
any fun spices you'd like to add: I used cumin, chili powder and menudo mix.

Combine flour, salt, spices and baking powder. Slowly add water until smooth and creamy. You may need to add more water as the batter sits, patiently waiting for a chili, and gets thicker.

Are your chilies cool enough to fondle, er handle? The skin should easily peel off and doing so is one of the most gratifying experiences of all time. Just trust me. Peel the chili skin and get ready to stuff!

Cut a slit, lengthwise, from the top of the chili toward the middle. It doesn't need to be very long, just enough so that you can comfortably fit a spoonful of filling inside. I will tell you right now that your chili will probably split open. This will make it SO EASY to stuff, but a little more difficult to fry. It will still be outstanding, however, so don't sweat it.


Using a not gigantic spoon, gently shovel some Daiya into the pepper all the way to the tip. Next, add a spoonful or two or three of filling and then fill the rest of the pepper with Daiya. Again, try not to split the pepper open, but don't feel like a failure when it inevitably does. Someday I will figure out a trick and I will gladly share it with all of you! Set your freshly stuffed pepper aside and move on to the next one!

Clearly mine look more like Chili tacos, but the end result was magical.
The white bits are extra Daiya that was floating around on the cutting board. I did not complain. 
Now comes the fun and exciting and extra messy process of battering and frying. I had batter covering every inch of my body and on most of the surfaces in the kitchen. I would like you to know that it was, at this point in time, almost 10:00 pm, as well.

I set up a cake pan with a bit of flour in it, and next to that, a dish with my batter. I attempted the one hand dry/one hand batter-y method, but it never quite works for me. Part of the issue was the chili tacos. Because of the super splits, it was a little more trying to batter them without the insides falling out. So, time consuming? A little. But once we got our rhythm down (and thanks to the wonderful helping hands of Patrick) it got much easier.

Not beautiful yet! And what is that nastiness on the fridge?!
We enjoyed our Chili Rellenos with an ice cold beer, corn on the cob, a bit of Sour Supreme and From Dusk til Dawn, starring George Clooney and Juliette Lewis.

Perfection. And so, THANK YOU DAIYA for making Patrick's dreams come true and for solving all of my problems. Stay tuned for some more "event" posts and for my fancy cake-making skills.

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