FIRECRACKER CHICKEN CHILE RELLENOS
My husband and I love peppers. I cook with them a lot. Some of our favorites are serranos, poblanos, pepperoncinis, and, of course, jalapenos. And I adore stuffed peppers. We've made all sorts of jalapeno poppers cooked a variety of ways. My husband even cut out circles in a cake pan so we could cook them on the grill. I know you can buy jalapeno grill devices, but it's so much more fun for him if he can invent things himself. (He also once built a homemade pool heater too! It was awesome!)
But this post is only partially about jalapeno poppers. I wanted to make Chile Rellenos, but I wanted to make the filling kind of like a jalapeno popper...with chicken. And it had to be spicy! Deep-fried heaven. Now, Chile Rellenos are made using poblano peppers. They are a mild pepper with a robust flavor. The key to cooking with poblanos is you have to roast them and peel the skin off before cooking with them. But don't worry, it's easy. Just throw them in a 400 degree oven and roast them, turning occasionally, until all sides are charred and blistering. When they are cool enough to handle, just peel off as much of the skin as you can. Then seed them and stuff them or chop them up to add to other dishes. And, while I know that Chile Rellenos are usually just stuffed with cheese, I just couldn't leave it alone. I have to put my spin on everything. And they were darn tasty and muy caliente! Hope you enjoy them!
- FOR THE BATTER:
- 7-8 poblano peppers, roasted and peeled (see instructions above)
- 3/4 lb shredded cooked chicken
- 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
- 1 1/2 C pepper Jack cheese
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2-4 T jalapeno slices (from the jar), chopped
- 1/2 lb bacon, diced and cooked
- Peanut oil for frying
- 1 C flour
- 1 C corn meal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 C milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
Mix the cream cheese, pepper Jack, garlic and jalapenos in a food processor. Stir in bacon and chicken. Adjust the salt to taste.
Now for the peppers. Carefully slice a slit down one side of the pepper without cutting all the way through. The idea is to make a pocket. Leave the tops on. Gently scrape the seeds and pulp out with a spoon. The peppers may tear a little, but it's okay. Using your hands (it's messy), grab a handful of the cream cheese mixture and kind of shape it like the pepper. Stuff them full but not so much that you can't wrap the pepper around it without seeing the filling. After they are all stuffed, put them in the freezer for about an hour.
Whisk the batter ingredients together and heat up the peanut oil in a large skillet (preferrably cast iron). Turn your oven on at 200 degrees to hold the cooked peppers until they are all fried (this also ensures the filling gets all the way hot in case they are fried too fast). Dip the peppers in the batter and gently lay two in the oil. Fry a few minutes on each side until golden brown all over. When they are all fried, let them sit in your oven for 10-15 minutes or until hot all the way through.