Did you ever find a dish you just loved, but hardly ever fixed it due to health or dietary restrictions? Deep Fried Chili Rellenos is one of my favorites, and I know how to make them really well. We used to grow the Anaheim chili peppers that make them the best. But I really needed to avoid deep fried foods for many reasons. So I thought, what is it about them that makes me like them? Can I achieve that without deep frying?
I decided to use the batter as a casserole topping and bake them instead. It turned out great, and became a new favorite of ours. I even began making them with Egg Beaters Substitute, plus egg whites to lighten the batter. This recipe uses whole eggs and I think is the best version. Feel free to roast and peel your own Anaheim chili peppers if you have them. I used canned in this recipe because they are readily available.
Drain the whole chili peppers and blot dry. Make a very small slit down the side of each pepper, from the cap to about 1 1/2 inches from the tip. Do not slice all the way down.
Cut the block of cheese into 8 slices, then cut each slice lengthwise so you have 16 sticks of cheese. Place 2 sticks of cheese into each of the 8 peppers. If there are more than 8 peppers, divide the cheese accordingly. Arrange the chilies seam side up, side by side, in a long shallow glass baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Beat egg whites until very foamy and thick, but not as stiff as for meringue.
Whisk the cumin, salt, and masa harina or cornmeal into the egg yolks, blending thoroughly. Then fold the yolk mixture into the whites until evenly combined. Spread this batter mixture evenly over the casserole.
Bake the casserole for 35 minutes, until batter is puffed and brown. Watch carefully, to prevent burning, because this tends to cook differently each time. It may take only 25-30 minutes, or as much as 40 minutes.
When done, cut in sections to serve. May be topped with salsa or pico de gallo, and sour cream.
To work with fresh chili peppers, choose very long Anaheim chilies or Poblano peppers. You want a mild pepper because they are so large. Arrange the peppers on a broiler pan and broil close to heat, turning several times, until skins are charred and blistered. Immediately pop the peppers into a paper bag and fold the top down. Let them sit and steam until cool enough to handle. Then remove the charred outside and proceed as in step one. It's OK if some of the charred parts still stick to the peppers.