Friday, October 8, 2010

Chile Relleno Casserole

My food crush with pablano peppers began the Spring of 1996. Brian and I were dating, and he took a business class at Boise State University. The assignment? Immerse yourself in a local business, critique, and draw up a suggested business plan designed to boost productivity. Lucky for me, Brian and his comrades were assigned a business and did a mighty fine job. So fine, that a local Mexican restaurant hosted a thank-you dinner. And because I was the girlfriend of one of the students, I apparently deserved to be a part of the fine dining experience.

It was an amusement park on a plate....all you can eat tacos, fajitas, and the delectable dish that will be by my side my entire life: Chile Relleno Casserole. It's incredibly loyal-- always a hit, easy and quick, and I get consistently great results. Plus, it's versatile. Not many dishes can masquerade as a breakfast, lunch, AND/OR dinner. For an elementary school parent volunteer thank-you lunch, I served it as a breakfast dish. For a baby shower lunch, I served it alongside a green taco salad. And for dinner with my fam? Alongside black beans, chicken breast or tilapia. I've even added olives, shredded chicken, and sour cream on top, and have dreamt of adding cooked fajita steak in between some of the layers.

But back to the BSU Business Thank-You Dinner: Somehow, I ended up with the recipe at the end of the night. No, there weren't any weapons involved. I did not wear a black cat suit or use infrared imaging. I simply asked for it. And SHE GAVE IT TO ME! Now, I try to remind myself that she was just giving it to me because she always gives her recipes away. But in the back of my head, I know the truth. There is no way a restaurant owner would willingly give away her number-one hit recipe without a fight. See, when Brian and I were dating in college, I looked 13 years young at best. She no doubt thought I was the kid sister and would take the scrawled scrap of paper she gave me with THE recipe, and use it to rid myself of my extra large wad of grape bubblelicious bubble gum that I was no doubt smacking too loud. And she must have thought I would never, ever own my own blog (plus, what was a blog?...remember, this is 1996 we're talking about...the word blog wasn't even coined until December 1997, folks!) Or--gasp--share it over the world wide web. I must not have looked like the culinary type, or even the domestic type. And I'm sure she didn't think I would be over-analyzing it after all these years either. :o)

What brings about this shred of honesty over my beloved Chile Relleno recipe? Our wonderful friends, The Hilty-Jones' own an organic farm and deliver boxes of beautiful, healthy, chemical-free, in-season veggies to your door for a minimal price each month. It really is a fantastic deal, and my--what a sweet and giving family. My heart skipped a beat as I gazed upon a recent crop of vegetables they had harvested: a huge box of the handsomest pablano peppers you ever did lay your eyes on, sitting in the back of our church a couple of Sundays ago and glancing at me oh-so-coyly, and I couldn't resist grabbing a bunch.

So without further adieu, I will be sharing my favorite pablano pepper recipes for you to consider in the next few weeks, starting with the one that began the obsession:

Local Mexican Restaurant (which shall remain nameless) Chile Relleno Casserole:

4-4oz cans of whole Ortega Chiles, seeds and tough veins removed (I instead purchase the 27oz. Los Palmas can of chiles from Winco. But if you were blessed like us to receive fresh pablanos, simply roast and peel and use as you do canned chiles).
2 Cups Monterey Jack Cheese
2 Cups Medium Cheddar Cheese
2 eggs
2 T. flour
12 oz. can evaporated milk
15. oz. can tomato sauce

Directions: In a 9X13 pan, layer 2 cans of the chiles, covering the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle half of the cheddar and half of the Monterey Jack cheese on top. Layer the rest of the chiles on top. Add the rest of the cheddar cheese.

In a small bowl, mix the eggs, flour, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the chile and cheese mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Finally, pour tomato sauce and sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese on top and bake 25-30 minutes more. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting. Ole'!

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Oh and please do link to me and share your favorite pablano recipes! I say, I can never have enough.


Hilty Sprouts said...

Thanks for the shout out! :o) I needed a good recipe for Pablano peppers!

emily wierenga said...

yumm.... now i'm hungry. i love the line: amusement park on a plate :)


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