Mom's Quick and Easy Chiles Rellenos {Recipe}

Chiles rellenos don't have to take a long time to make. Using canned fire-roasted green chiles cuts the time in half without sacrificing traditional Mexican flavors. This recipe is quick, easy and delicious.

Chiles rellenos, like so many traditional Mexican dishes, have variations in the preparation from household to household and region to region.

I grew up on two different preparations for chiles rellenos: my mother's and my father's. Both used Anaheim chiles (although I remember Dad occasionally using the more traditional poblano) and both were equally delicious but whereas Dad would spend an hour or two just roasting the chiles a couple at a time directly on the flames of a few burners at the stove, mom would reach for a large can of already roasted, peeled and de-seeded Ortega Roasted Green (Anaheim) Chiles. Needless to say, when mom made this dish, dinner was on the table a whole lot faster.

Several weeks ago, in an effort to free up some space in my email account, I started sorting through some old correspondence. I came across a few emails from my mother. They were for a couple of email recipe exchanges I was into several years back that mom had been kind enough to participate in. One of the recipes she provided was for her version of chiles rellenos. Reading her description of the dish made me nostalgic. It's been a good ten or more years since I had either of my parent's versions and it's been several years since I made my interpretation (which I'll share soon).

The next evening, I stopped at the store on the way home from work and picked up two small cans of chiles and some Colby Jack cheese to make a small batch for a mid-week dinner. Some recipes for chiles rellenos can take up to 5 hours start to finish. Granted, those more involved recipes are usually for a dozen to two dozen stuffed peppers. The cans I bought had 4 whole chiles each so I had enough for dinner for me and Grams plus lunch for us both the next day. And how long did my mid-week dinner prep take me? 40 minutes. Yup, 40 minutes from pulling out the ingredients to plating. That's my kind of mid-week cooking!

About two weeks later, I was preparing chiles for this post. Grams walked into the kitchen to see what I was doing. She stood silently next to me as I stuffed and stopped to shoot and stuffed and shot and finally asked if that's how I had made them for her before and I said yes, it was my mom's quick and easy recipe. She laughed and said, "They're semi-homemade," making reference to one of her favorite Food Network shows. Personally, when making marinara sauce and opening up a can of stewed or crushed tomatoes it never crosses my mind that the prep is "semi-homemade." Now if I opened a jar of sauce and proceeded to doctor it up to my liking, that would be a different story. So I don't consider this dish semi-homemade for using pre-roasted peppers but maybe that's just me.

Don't get me wrong. Personally, I love semi-homemade! Especially if the dish still calls for plenty of freshly prepared components and you're not sacrificing flavor. And trust me, these stuffed gems are delicious.

Ready for some good eats? Give these a whirl. All the flavor, half the work. Let's get cooking!

Author: Irma Y. Arambula


For the peppers:
⅓ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
27 ounce can Ortega Whole Green Chiles, drained
2 lbs. marbled Colby Jack cheese, grated
5 eggs, separated
Cooking Oil for frying

For the ranchero sauce:
2 tablespoons cooking oil
½  large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ large brown onion, thinly sliced
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
½ teaspoon whole oregano
1 teaspoon California chile powder


Make the peppers:
1. Add salt and pepper to flour, set aside. 
2. Carefully stuff each chile with the shredded cheese, pat it tightly closed and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat for remaining peppers.
3. Heat oil over medium-low flame. Use enough oil to cover half of the depth of a chile. 
4. Whip egg whites till frothy and peaks hold; gradually fold in yolks.*
5. Roll stuffed peppers in flour, then slide into the whipped egg. Carefully slide it onto the hot
oil and lightly brown on both sides; remove and set on a paper towel lined rimmed baking sheet.
Repeat until all the chiles are stuffed and fried.

Make the sauce:
1. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
2. Sauté bell peppers and onions until soft and onions are translucent.
3. Gradually add the tomato sauce, stirring to incorporate. Fill the can with water, swish to loosen up any sauce stuck to the sides of the can and add water to pan.
4. Sprinkle in the bouillon, oregano and chile powder.
5. Let sauce come to a quick boil.

To finish:
1. Remove paper towels from the chiles (used to soak up any extra oil) and gently pour sauce over the chiles. 
2. Bake in oven for about 5 minutes or until heated through. 
3. Serve with a side of Mexican rice and beans. (Click on links for recipes.)

•Leftover egg? Don't toss it. Use it to make an omelet.

Until next time, friends … 

If you're in San Diego, may you stay safe especially if you are affected by the raging fires throughout North County. My thoughts and prayers are with you.