Deconstructed Chile Rellenos


Can’t say I liked chile rellenos as a kid.  The ones I grew up with were greasy, salty, cheese-filled, egg-enveloped vessel.   I did not learn to appreciate the relleno until I had one, later on in life, in Napa Valley.  It was stuffed with vegetables, dried fruit and nuts and had this great balance of sweet and spice.  Man was it good.  After that I was hooked and started messing around with different ideas for fillings.

Nowadays I love chile rellenos but making them can be time consuming.  Chilies get roasted, chilies get seeded, chilies get stuffed, chilies get battered, chilies get fried.  All that for one little pepper.  So I decided to make it easier by deconstructing the chile relleno.  Rather than stuffing the chile with veggies and cheese and then dunking it in an egg batter, I sauté mushrooms, spinach and corn with sliced, roasted chile poblanos.  I then make a mild cheese sauce to pour on top.  No need to batter and fry them chilies.  Same flavor profile but less work.  How simple is that?


– 2 tablespoons of butter or oil;

-2 tablespoons of flour;

–  ¼ cup of white wine;

-2 ½ cups of milk;

-2 cups of mild cheese (I use a mixture of Oaxaca and Monterrey Jack but any mild melting cheese will is fine);

– ¼ teaspoon of ground cumin;

-generous dash of paprika;

-salt and pepper, to taste;

-2 tablespoons of oil;

– 4 cups of mushrooms (about 10 medium-sized mushrooms), sliced;

– 8oz. of spinach;

-3 chile poblano peppers, roasted*, seeded and sliced into strips;

– 1 15.25oz. can of corn, drained.


In a medium sized saucepan melt butter or oil over medium heat until butter is melted, or if using oil until oil begins to glisten.  Next add flour and mix incorporating the flour until there are no more lumps, creating a roux.  Continue to stir until the roux turns rich blonde in color (it should resemble the color of a roasted peanut).

blonde roux

While stirring the roux, slowly pour in the wine and milk, being careful not to let the roux clump up.  Turn heat up to medium-high and continue to stir frequently until sauce thickens.  To test, coat the back of a wooden spoon with the sauce and run your finger through it creating a line.  When the line stays in place, it is ready.

good roux

Take saucepan off the heat and add cheese, a handful at a time.  Make sure to fully incorporate the cheese into the sauce after every handful.  Place the saucepan back on the stove and maintain on medium heat until cheese has completely melted and sauce has a smooth texture.  Add salt, pepper, cumin and paprika to sauce and let stand on low heat until ready to serve.

In a large sauté pan, heat oil on medium heat.  Add mushrooms and let sauté for 5-10 minutes or until brown.  Next, add spinach and cook until heated through and wilted.  Toss in poblano peppers and corn and mix thoroughly.  Finally sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

relleno mix

To serve, place poblano mixture in a shallow bowl or plate and pour cheese sauce on top.  Serve with warm tortillas or chips and the obligatory rice.  Yum, yum.

*To roast peppers on a gas stove- Turn burner on high and place pepper directly on the open flame.  Cook, turning to char on all sides until they resemble Freddy Krueger.    To roast peppers in the oven- Place peppers on a baking sheet and generously coat peppers with oil.  Place in a 450 degree oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, turning peppers occasionally to char on all sides. 

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