Chile Relleno Casserole
Stuffed chilli pepper casserole is the correct translation of this quintessentially New Mexican recipe. All over the Southwest, especially in farmers' markets in late summer, the smoky aroma of roasting Anaheim chillies wafts over the landscape. Oil drums fashioned as chilli roasters rotate over hot coals, and the charred chillies, which you can take home and peel yourself, are sold still warm in plastic bags.
8 fresh Anaheim or Poblano chillies, or green capsicum (bell) peppers, stems removed and de-seeded
9 ounces Gruyere, Jack or Havarti cheese, grated
7 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon dried oregano
, rubbed cayenne pepper
, to taste
olive oil, for greasing
1/4 scant cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup milk
6 eggs sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
Heat the grill (broiler) to its highest setting. Grill the chillies or peppers, turning until black and blistered all over. Remove to a plastic bag and leave to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Beat the grated Gruyere cheese, cream cheese, oregano and cayenne together in a bowl. Make one cut along the grilled peppers and lay flat. Stuff generously with a dollop of the cheese mixture and roll up.
Oil the casserole or gratin dish and lay the stuffed peppers on the bottom, ideally spaced apart if the dish allows.
Beat the flour, milk, and eggs with salt and pepper to taste together in another bowl until completely smooth. Pour over the peppers then top with the grated Cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden, bubbling and set throughout.
Canned whole roasted chillies are widely available and can be certainly used in place of fresh ones in this recipe. For those unable to find the chillies fresh or canned, the humble green capsicum (bell) pepper is a suitable substitute.
A further simplification is to skip the stuffing mixture and just place rods of cheese inside the chillies, though you'll miss out on the oozing, spiked creaminess of the filling.