Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Scampwalker's Blowtorch Rellenos With Venison Gravy

I can't claim credit for any component of this recipe, but I can claim that the amalgam is all my own.

The typical stuffing pepper (literally chile relleno in Spanish) is an anaheim or poblano -- the latter (and my favorite) is similar in size to an elongated green pepper, though a much deeper green in color.  The trouble with these two varieties is that they've got tough skins -- tough enough that if you cook them without removing the skin, you get something similar to Saran Wrap encasing your peppers.  Most relleno recipes tell you to broil your peppers to sear off the skin, but I've learned the hard way that this process softens the pepper too much -- not good when you get around to frying them.

Enter the "blowtorch" portion of this recipe.  It has nothing to do with the heat of the pepper -- poblanos generally are mild, if prepped correctly.  Instead, the fire portion of the equation was pioneered by my father some 30 years ago... and it's as effective as it is just plain bad-ass.  And the kids love it.  Fire up that propane torch you've got laying around to burn the skin until it blackens and pops.  Then put the whole peppers in a paper bag for 20 minutes or so to help the skin separate from the flesh of the pepper.  Rinse off the charred skin under cold water and you're ready to go.
I'm not saying my Dad invented this blowtorch process -- you can find internet references to it these days -- but then, who was surfing the web back during the Reagan administration?

The process after that is fairly straightforward:
  • Cut a slit lengthwise in each pepper, and carefully scoop out the seeds and white veins (this is where the hotness is)
  • Stuff either cubed or shredded cheese in each pepper -- we used sharp cheddar this time, but a Mexican asadero is nice too
  • Separate a half dozen eggs; in one bowl, beat the whites until they're stiff.  In a second bowl, mix the yolks with 1/4 cup flour, then fold that mixture into the egg whites
  • Roll each stuffed pepper in a plate of dry flour, and then dip into the egg mixture, making sure the batter adheres to the pepper
  • Fry it with the slit-side down side first in a cast iron skillet filled with an inch of hot oil.  Turn it when golden brown, and remove when finished
That's pretty much it.  Never being one that's content with "pretty much" though, I chose to put together a chili gravy to accompany the rellenos.  There's a terrific recipe over at the Homesick Texan, who took it from Tex-Mex authority Robb Walsh:
  • Heat the 1/4 cup canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Stir in the 1/4 cup flour and stir for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it makes a light brown roux
  • Add 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp salt, 1.5 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, and 2 tbs chili powder to the roux and constantly stir for a minute or so
  • Gradually pour in two cups of chicken broth, and let simmer for 15 minutes
I gilded the lily a bit more by browning a package or two of ground venison in a separate skillet along with some chopped fresh garlic, jalapenos, and tomatoes.  After everything was cooked through, I combined the meat with the chili gravy, and poured that over the relleno.  Heaven.

As we sat there last night eating, we derived an added measure of satisfaction knowing that almost everything on our plates -- from every vegetable to the eggs to the venison -- were naturally raised and harvested.  And really, really tasty.


  1. Yum, Yum
    I've never grown poblano peppers, but have torched many a anaheim pepper. I still like the gravy on the side... to keep the breading crisp.