I like to experiment with a couple of new vegetables in the garden every year. Last year I tried jalapeno peppers and couldn’t use them all. This year I experimented with ancho peppers. My understanding was that they aren’t one of the hottest peppers but are commonly used in Mexican cooking. When I asked my friend Maria Turner, she said her mother always used them to make chili relleno.
Since Maria’s suggestion is to stuff the chili relleno with Mexican cheese, I thought it would be an ideal time to also try Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda’s Cuban Black Bean Soup. Or rather, her mother’s. I grew black turtle beans a couple of years ago to dry and use in black bean soup. I found the beans so tedious to hull after drying that I haven’t grown them again since, but I still have some stored in a glass jar, then the main ingredient is already in the kitchen.
I figured out I didn’t have an innate Latina cook skill when the black beans didn’t get soft. I failed at the very first step! But I proceeded anyway, trying everything I could think of to soften them and when I could finally bite in without chipping the enamel on my teeth, I added seasoning.
The chili relleno began with roasting the peppers and taking the skin off. That was new to me and also tedious, but I’ll try it a different way next time to see if it’s easier. Here’s the basic recipe I used after listening to Maria and reading a few recipes online when I realized I had more questions. We used one of the many jars of salsa we canned a couple of months ago for the last step.
Roast and skin peppers.
Combine Mexican cheese with salt, pepper, thyme and garlic.
Whip two egg whites to soft peaks (this was a good amount for seven peppers).
Roll stuffed peppers in whipped eggs.
Roll in corn meal.
Fry in a skillet with enough oil to do cook one side at a time. Turn until each side is completely browned.
Put them in a serving dish then top with your favorite salsa.
Jim’s soup rating: 7, with expectations that the leftovers will improve to 9 as the seasonings continue to go through the soup.
Beth’s soup rating: 7
Jim’s chili relleno rating: 10
Beth’s chili relleno rating: 10 (when I added sour cream to calm the spiciness of the peppers)
Thanks to the Marias and their mothers for the lesson!
This week: Butternut squash and greens pasta