Tradition includes a free hand with flavor and form

ELAINE JOHNSON,  – September 16, 2004


A fresh large chili filled with melting cheese, dipped in frothy egg batter, and sizzled golden brown in bubbling oil is an authentic chile relleno. But so is a deep-fried jalapeño stuffed with mozzarella cheese ― the “poppers” savored by brew pub and ballpark crowds.

A casserole of chilies baked in a cheese custard also qualifies for the name. Relleno is the Spanish word for stuffed. And the term chiles rellenos, here and in Mexico, covers a spectrum of imaginative dishes in which the “stuff” may be in, over, or around the chili.

Sunset readers regularly expand the chile relleno tradition, often by lowering the fat. In these four dishes, a baked filled chili is the common denominator.

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