Making a light and crunchy chile relleno, packed with cheese and other savory fillings, is not an easy task. The roasted chile pod has to be large enough to hold the filling together without exploding and then hang onto the egg white coating long enough so that it crisps up quickly when it hits the hot oil for a quick deep fry. I love to eat these New Mexican darlings, but I don’t like to make them.
I’ve been thinking about how to make a chile relleno casserole for our Dutch oven friends that is easy and still captures the flavors and textures of the real deal and makes the green chile the star of the dish. I checked out several recipes, many which were more like a breakfast casserole with lots of green chile. These dishes sounded delicious, more like a quiche, but I wanted a substantial relleno dish for lunch or dinner. Then I checked my bookshelf with cookbooks, and was inspired by the Green Chile Bible. Yes! Now I need to see if it works and if my better-half approves.
- Canola oil, about 2-3 tablespoons (enough to cover the bottom of a 12-inch camp Dutch oven
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Ground black pepper
- 2 10-ounce cans Rotel, drained
- 2 16-ounce cans refried beans (I used refried black beans)
- 10 ounces Queso Fresco, shredded
- 2 cups whole roasted green chiles, seeds removed
- 1 cup pancake mix (I used Krusteaz Buttermilk mix)
- 1 cup water
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon dried chipotle
- 1 teaspoon granulated dried onion powder
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Grated cheese for garnish
Fire up a chimney of charcoal.
Place a 12-inch camp Dutch oven over a pile of hot charcoal then add oil and chopped onion. Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes until they start to turn translucent, then add ground beef. Using a wooden or plastic spoon, break up the ground beef into small chunks and cook until meat is dark brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for another minute. Stir in drained Rotel. Remove from heat and pour meat mixture into a strainer to remove excess liquid, oil and fat. Leave any bits of onions, garlic, and meat in the bottom of the oven.
Open each whole green chile by sliding your thumb up one side, then open it up into a triangle shape. Place the chiles in a solid layer around and on top of the cheese.In a small bowl, mix together pancake mix with water and whisk until batter is smooth. Add salt, powdered onion, chipotle, and cilantro and mix until herbs and seasoning are distributed evenly.
Pour the pancake batter across the top of the green chiles and spread it out evenly. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (19 hot charcoals up and 10 below) for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and beans and cheese are bubbling up through the cracks.
Serve with a sprinkle of grated cheese.
My wonderful husband, Steve, said “Needs more heat.” So if you love smokey, hot chiles, like my better-half, add your favorite green chile. I used “mild” green chile in this recipe, but next time we want more heat! Green chile is the star of this show so find the kind you love and make it shine. Enjoy!