"One of the supreme favourite Mexican dishes said to have been created by nuns in the city of Puebla in the 16th century - this is a mildly warm fresh poblano chilli grilled over charcoal, peeled and stuffed with cheese, dipped in light frothy egg batter, fried and served with a deeply satisfying tomato, onion and chilli sauce. The mix of textures and the warmth of the chilli take it to the next level. As our chef friend Rafael Nazario says - “You taste one and go wow! Let’s do it again!” Sensational!" Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
Fresh poblano chilli grilled over charcoal, peeled and stuffed with cheese, dipped in light frothy egg batter, fried and served with a deeply satisfying tomato, onion and chilli sauce.
- 4 small poblano chilies (about 40 g each)
- toothpicks, for securing the chillies
- vegetable oil, for rubbing and deep-frying
- 200 g Oaxacan cheese (or fresh mozzarella), thinly sliced
- 3 eggs, separated
- 125 g plain flour, seasoned to taste
- 400 g Roma tomatoes
- 1 fresh jalapeño chilli
- ½ onion, unpeeled
- 1-2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
- ½ white corn tortilla, thinly sliced
- handful chopped parsley, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time: 1 hour
Preheat a charcoal barbecue. Rub the poblano chillies with oil and place directly on the grill. (Placing them over a gas flame also works, as long as the chillies aren’t too close to the flame.) Turn the chillies regularly until blackened and blistered on all sides. Transfer to a sealed container or place in a plastic bag and allow them to steam for about 30 minutes. This will make the peeling easier.
Meanwhile, to make the sauce, place the tomatoes, jalapeño chilli, onion and garlic cloves on the barbecue and grill, turning regularly or until golden brown but not blackened. Remove from the grill, then when cool enough to handle, peel the tomato, onion and garlic and coarsely chop. Place in a saucepan with the stock and a couple of slices of the jalapeño (depending on how you like it). Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tortilla, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Blend until smooth and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Transfer the sauce to a frying pan wide enough to accommodate the fried chilies.
Peel the chillies, reserving any of the juices. Avoid using water for this. This business of peeling capsicums under a stream of water from the tap washes away the flavour. Once peeled, cut lengthways down one side and discard the seeds, leaving the chillies in-tact. Stuff each chilli with a heaped tablespoon of cheese and secure with a toothpick.
In a clean stainless steel or copper bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. (Hint: if you wipe down the bowl with a bit of vinegar and add just a few grains of salt, the egg whites will fluff up more enthusiastically). Gently whisk is the egg yolks.
Heat the oil in a wide, deep pan. Test the oil for heat. It should not be smoking. If in doubt, cut a small piece of bread and put it in the oil. If it begins to bubble and fry, the oil is at the right temperature.
Working one at a time, carefully dredge the stuffed poblanos in the flour. Tap off the excess, then pass through the beaten egg. You want them nicely coated. Gently drop them into the hot oil and cook for 1 minute on each side or until light golden and crisp. Remove and allow to drain on paper towel.
Bring the tomato sauce back to a simmer and place the fried chillies into the pan. Simmer for 1 minute, then serve bathed in the tomato sauce with a sprinkle of parsley.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.