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I went out of my usual cooking comfort zone and made Chile Rellenos with La Morena.
Growing up in Connecticut, I had no idea what Mexican food was. Actually, I pretty much had no idea what most ethnic foods were like. We had Italian restaurants and Chinese Restaurants, but that was about it. It was mostly burgers and sandwiches for us when we ate out. Seriously… we didn’t even have a Taco Bell.
When I moved to California, I worked at a company that had a tiny, hole-in-the-wall Mexican place down the street. I wasn’t sure at first when my co-workers invited me to join them for lunch there, but they swore it was one of the best Mexican places in town. As if I would even know what a good Mexican restaurant was. I didn’t like spicy food, I wasn’t a fan of beans, and I had no idea what I would even order. So, we walked over and I checked out the menu carefully and decided on a burrito. Chicken, veggies, rice, rolled up in a tortilla. How bad could it be? OMG… HEAVEN!
I can still taste that burrito all these years later and I have NEVER found another place that makes them that good. That little restaurant has long since closed down… but I ended up having lunch there at least twice a week during my entire employment with that company.
I’ve since found a love of Mexican food and living in Los Angeles there are certainly a lot of choices. The funny thing is, I’ve developed a taste for spicy food… and beans… and avocado (another food that I never saw until I moved to California). I still tend to veer towards chicken or shrimp burritos, but my husband always goes for the Chile Relleno. It is the one thing that I never really make for him at home. It always seemed so complicated. I think it’s time I gave it a try.
In Santa Clarita, when you want to prepare a Mexican dish, you head to Vallarta.
For authentic ingredients, you definitely want to go to a specialty store. I was looking for La Morena products and while I did find a few products in my local Ralphs, Vallarta had a lot more of the product line.
Since I was making chile rellenos, I picked up some of the chipotle sauce to top them off with.
8 Fresh Jalapenos
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup flour
La Morena Chipotle Sauce
Jalapenos are known for their heat, but in reality, it’s the seeds and membranes of the pepper that contain the heat. If you like sweating while you eat, you can leave them intact. If you’re like me and you’d rather have your heat come from the sauce, then you’ll want to clean out the seeds and membranes from the jalapenos. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, but you’ll want to be careful with your hands because if you have any cuts or sores on them you will feel the burn. And please don’t touch your face because you won’t be happy.
I sliced the peppers across the top near the stem and then lengthwise. I left the stem in place because I didn’t want all the gooey cheese to seep out while I fried them.
When you have cleaned out the inside, your next step is going to be to blanch the peppers. Now a lot of people will actually roast them and then peel off the top layer of the skin. I didn’t want to spend the time so I thought I’d just soak them in boiling water for about 5 minutes to soften them up. The skin of the jalapeno is pretty tough and what we love about chile rellenos is that they are easy to cut up and eat.
Blanch the jalapenos, then cool them off with cold water so they stop cooking and you can stuff them without burning your hands or melting the cheese. Take a bunch of the shredded cheese and stuff the jalapenos. I used toothpicks to keep them closed so the cheese doesn’t seep out when you are ready to start frying them.
Your next step is to dredge the jalapenos in flour and then in egg mixture. Coat well because this is where you’re going to get all that great crunch from. Heat your pan of oil – I used about a 1/2 inch of oil – and then put them in to fry. Fry them as dark or as light as you like, but remember to turn them over at least once.
Drain on a paper towel and then you’ll be ready to make the sauce that will take this dish to a higher level of deliciousness.
Time to get out your La Morena Chipotle Sauce. You can serve the sauce alone (and oh wow, it’s spicy) or do what I did and mix it with some sour cream. You will absolutely still be able to taste the heat, but it’s toned down a bit for my kids. They like spicy, but not too spicy.
Do you need the heat? Well, not if you absolutely can’t handle it… but it is SO much better with a little spicy.
I was pretty sure the husband would love it… he’ll eat anything I make, but the jury was out on the kids. Turns out they LOVED the meal! Even asked for more. And Lauryn told me that I had to make it again… soon. Yay… chile relleno success!
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