Frontera Grill Chiles Rellenos

Frontera Grill Restaurant Copycat Recipe

Tomato Sauce:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium white onions, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
2 (28 oz.) cans good quality whole tomatoes in juice, undrained
3-4 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken or beef broth

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 pounds coarsely ground pork shoulder
2 cups reserved tomato sauce
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Chiles Rellenos:
0il to a depth of 1 inch, for frying
8 medium (about 1 1/2 pounds total) fresh poblano chiles
8 (6 inch) wooden skewers or 16 toothpicks
6 large eggs, cold
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus about 1 cup for dredging the chiles
sprigs of fresh cilantro, watercress or flat leaf parsley, for garnish

For the tomato sauce: In a medium-large (4-quart) saucepan, heat the lard or oil over medium. Add the onions and cook, stirring regularly, until they are very well browned, about 10 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, puree the  tomatoes (if using fresh tomatoes, puree them with 2/3 cup water) and the Serranos, using a blender or food processor and working in two batches if necessary for your equipment. When the onions are well browned, raise the heat to medium-high and add the pureed tomatoes, cinnamon and black pepper. Stir regularly as the mixture boils briskly, reducing until it becomes the consistency of thick tomato sauce, about 25 minutes.

To make the broth base: Remove 2 cups of the tomato sauce mixture and set aside. Stir the chicken broth into the mixture that remains. Partially cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes or so, while you’re preparing the filling and chiles.

For the picadillo filling: Set a large skillet  over medium high heat. Add the almonds and stir around until they color to a deep golden, about 2 minutes. Remove. Crumble the pork into the skillet and fry, stirring often, until thoroughly cooked (some of the edges should be browned and crispy), 10 to 15 minutes. If the pork has rendered a lot of fat, drain it off.

Mix in the reserved 2 cups of tomato mixture, raisins and vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture is very thick and homogeneous, about 20 minutes. Stir in the almonds, then taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Cool.

Preparing the chiles: While the picadillo is cooking, roast the chiles. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Spread the peppers evenly on a cookie sheet, in a single layer. Roast the peppers for about 4 to 5 minutes until the skins blister and blacken. Keep turning them so that they get charred on all sides. Watch carefully so they do not burn.

Broiler method:  Place in the oven, 4-5 inches from the the broiler element. The skin will blister and turn black. Turn the peppers as required to blister all sides evenly. Place the roasted peppers in a paper bag and seal the bag.

Clean and Peel:  Allow the chile peppers to sweat in the bag for about 10 to 15 minutes. When you remove them from the bag they will be easy to peel.

When the chiles are cool enough to handle, rub off the blistered skins, then cut an incision in the side of each one, starting 1/2 inch below the stem end and continuing to within 1/2 inch of the tip. One by one, work your finger inside the chiles and dislodge all the seeds clustered just below the stem. Quickly rinse the seeds from inside the chiles, being careful not to rip or tear the opening any wider; rinse off any stray bits of skin. Drain on paper towels, cut-side down.

Stuffing the chiles:  Stuff each well drained chile with about 1/2 cup of cool pork filling, then slightly overlap the two sides of the incision and pin them back together with a skewer or 2 toothpicks. For the greatest ease in battering and frying, flatten the chiles slightly, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for about 1 hour to firm.

Battering and frying the chiles:  Reheat the oil to 350 degrees and set up a tray lined with several layers of paper towels. Separate the eggs: whites into the bowl of an electric mixer, the yolks into another bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whites and begin beating them on medium speed. When they are beginning to look dry and hold a stiff peak (but are not at all rigid), beat in the yolks two at a time until well incorporated. Lastly, beat in the 2 tablespoons of flour. Spread the 1 cup of flour on a plate.

One at a time, batter the first four chiles: roll in the flour, shake off the excess, pick up by the stem, dip into the batter, pull quickly straight up out of the batter, then lay into the hot oil. Once the first four are in the oil, begin gently, gently basting them with spoonfuls of hot oil (this will help set the uncooked batter on top). When they’re richly golden underneath, about 4 minutes, use one small metal spatula underneath and another one (or a spoon) on top to gently turn the chiles over. Fry until the other side is richly golden, another 3 to 4 minutes. Using the metal spatula, remove the chiles to drain on paper towels. Repeat with the second half of the chiles.

Serving the chiles:  Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Once all the fried chiles have cooled for at least 5 minutes, pick them up by carefully rolling each one onto one hand, then transferring to a baking sheet (lined with parchment, if you wish, for extra ease at the time of serving). Pull out the wooden skewer by twisting it gently. Bake for about 15 minutes to reheat, to render some of the absorbed oil and to crisp slightly.

Meanwhile, bring the tomato broth to a boil and check the consistency: it should be similar to a brothy tomato soup. If too thick, thin with a little water or broth; if too thin, boil rapidly until thickened slightly. Season it with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the broth into each of 8 deep serving bowls (large soup bowls or pasta bowls are perfect here). Nestle in one of the chiles, garnish with the cheese and herb sprigs.

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