The origin of the chile relleno (literally ‘stuffed chile’) can be traced to Mexico’s fourth largest city, Puebla, about two hours southwest of Mexico City. A fresh Poblano pepper is cored, roasted, and stuffed with melted cheese, usually queso Chihuahua or queso Oaxaca. The pepper is then coated with a batter or corn meal, fried, and served in a tomato-based sauce. In more traditional cooking, the original chiles were stuffed with mixtures of minced meat and egg.
Another favored modern version is the pepper is stuffed with picadillo, which is similar to hash. The stuffing is made from ground meat and tomatoes; other ingredients may vary by region.
As current fads of “fusion” cooking have emerged, as you move into the United States, the chile relleno can take on all manner of stuffing and preparations. Fresh seafood is one popular variation, and cheese used tend to be somewhat more flavorful, like Monterrey Jack or Asiago.
As regional versions are common in Mexico, so are they in the US; in New Mexico, the local Hatch pepper is the preferred choice, which is slender instead of round, and carries a bit more heat than the Poblano. Dipped in a egg batter and fried, it’s likely the New Mexico version will be served in a red or green chile sauce, or even a mole.
About Zia Diner:
The Zia Diner is a true Santa Fe icon, now celebrating 25 years as a part of this community. Serving upscale, down home comfort food, the Zia Diner serves updated renditions of diner classics – think Green Chile-Pinon Meatloaf – along with an eclectic menu of southwestern and international comfort food. This high-energy restaurant and bar prides itself on its professional and friendly service and exceptional food. The Zia uses grass-fed, additive-free beef, free-range and additive-free chicken and eggs, and local, organic, fair-trade Agapao Coffee. Their bread is delivered daily from Fano Bakery in Albuquerque. All pies, cakes, cookies and pastries are baked from scratch in their kitchen.
Contact: Beth Koch