Last night when I walked into the fresh foods section of my little grocery store, bags of fresh green chilies from Hatch, New Mexico greeted me. Without hesitation I opened a bag and drew in one long, lasting whiff of home. It was heaven to me. I come from West Texas, the dry desert southwest and all its beauty. Not to diminish the natural resources growing from its own soils, this section of the country is known for it green chilies. Labor Day weekend is the annual chilie festival in Hatch. Hundreds of pounds of the peppers are roasted over large rolling propane roasters, the savory aroma of roasted peppers wafting through the air and heralding the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I LOVE green chilies and everything you can make with them or anything to which they can be added.
This brings me to last Friday evening. On our trip to Alabama we stopped in the small town of Wynne, Arkansas, a small east Arkansas farm town about forty-five minutes from Memphis. After settling into our hotel we found a place to eat. We ambled into a tiny Mexican food restaurant across the street. The place was charming and dripped with atmosphere. All the tables were of brightly colored tropical somethings with chairs to match the table. We were taken in immediately.
From the menu we ordered our meal. I requested a No. 8 – spinach enchiladas, Corvette Man ordered a chilie relleno a la cart and our daughter ordered a taco salad. We gnashed on chips and wonderfully seasoned spicy salsa as we awaited our meal. When the food arrived, a large oblong platter was set before C Man. The dish contained a swath of perfectly melted cheese with a small scrap of green in the center of it. He fished the green morsel from the lake of cheese to discover it was a poor excuse for a chilie relleno – it was only a piece of green chilie and barely constituted a whole bite. He was sadly disappointed.
When I dug into my No.8, disappointment unfolded with the first slice of my fork, for the enchilda was beef and not the expected vegetable. Next to it lay a pork tamale – another disappointment. We ate our meals without complaint, unwilling to bring upon us some dreaded kitchen revenge. We made light of the whole meal, though, jesting about the chilie relleno, or lack there of.
This brings me to my meal. When I found those beautiful chilies I knew I had to make chilie rellenos for C-Man. The meal was a rousing success.
To make these, it is necessary to roast the chilies to remove the tough outer skin. I put these in the broiler.
This is what they look like when done.
Peel the skin from the flesh of the chilie.
The contrast of fresh versus cooked.
Open the chilie and insert a small bit of coteja cheese.
Dip the cheese stuffed chilie in a flour/egg mixture and lay in hot pan with oil.
Cook the chilie until brown then flip over.
The result is the tastiest low calorie meal around. These peppers turned out to be a bit spicy. Wonderfully delicious and satisfying.
Love green chilies.
Chilies are always a little piece of heaven to me.