Sunday, April 10, 2011

Making Chiles Rellenos in Mexico

Before our recent Mexican vacation, I had come across some Zihuatanejo cooking school websites, and I knew it would be something Nate and I would love to do. We ended up choosing Patio Mexica, mostly because the owner got back to me sooner than another one did. This one ended up being much cheaper than the other one I was looking at (about $55 compared to $20). And, it turns out, it was only about three blocks from our hotel!

So on the Saturday during our vacation, Nate and I ventured to Patio Mexica (connected to Rufo's Grill, which we had an excellent fish dinner at the night before) to learn how to make chiles rellenos. I had never made them before, but had tasted them and knew it would be a great experience.

The class was pretty full, as it was Monica's last class of the season, before taking a break and going on vacation herself. We made four types of chiles rellenos:

    • Chiles en nogada: chiles stuffed with beef and pork, plus raisins (or cranberries), apple, pear and walnuts, topped with a sweetened sour cream sauce and some more dried cranberries (or pomegranate seeds). The finished product is supposed to represent the Mexican flag. (I had my first chile en nogada not too long ago at Botanas).

    • Chile rellenos poblanos: This is probably what you think of when you hear "chiles rellenos." This type is also made with a poblano pepper, and then it's rolled in flour, beaten eggs and fried in hot oil. The ones we made just had wonderful queso fresco inside of them. These were served with a simple yet delicious sauce, made with tomatoes, onions and garlic.

    • Chile rellenos ancho: These were prepared the same as the ones above, but instead of the fresh poblano, we used dried poblanos, which are called ancho chiles. It gives the chile rellenos a different taste and texture, but it's just as good.

    • Chile rellenos cuaresmenos: These peppers resemble large jalapeno chiles and they can be stuffed with all sorts of fillings--we used beans, some of the meat from the other chile rellenos and a tuna salad mix. We did not fry them.

    The class was pretty hands on, as we were to help roast the poblanos to get the skins off, de-seed the ancho chiles and prepare them for stuffing.

    One of the most fun parts was stuffing the poblanos and anchos with the filling, dipping them in the batter and frying them. Nate and I both tried it--it was messy, but fun!

    Of course, the very best part of the class was tasting everything when we were done!

    We got to try at least bits of each of the chiles rellenos, plus they have us some delicious and refreshing hibiscus flower water and baskets of very fresh tortillas. Everything was absolutely delicious and flavorful.

    After lunch, some of us, including Nate, tried making some of those fresh tortillas. It's not as easy as it looks! The first one Nate made was a little too thin, and he had to do it again. But it worked well the second time!

    All in all, it was a great time and a great experience. Monica holds Wednesday classes in which she takes the class to the market and then makes a lunch with the fresh products the class picks up. I'd love to do that one next time we're there! :)

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