From prepping the peppers to choosing the stuffing; whether they are battered and fried, baked or served cold; and what kind of sauce or toppings to add, there are innumerable ways to cook stuffed Poblano peppers. This recipe is as representative of homemade Mexican food as it gets, and serves as an illustration of several basic techniques that are used in many other applications in Mexican cuisine.
Crispy Stuffed Poblano Peppers with “Caldillo” –
Chiles Poblanos rellenos y capeados, con caldillo
6 Poblano peppers
3 cups stuffing: Picadillo and/or sliced cheese (any type that melts when hot)
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or cornstarch, for gluten free option)
Vegetable oil, for pan frying
Ingredients for Caldillo
3 tomatoes, stem spot removed, cut into quarters
1/4 white onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1) The Poblano peppers are roasted, peeled and de-seeded. Roasting is a step I strongly recommend not to skip, because the flavour is enriched so much, and peeling is basically impossible without it.
Printable recipe – How to roast and peel Poblano peppers
The peppers are blackened under the broiler on both sides. When ready, they are left in the turned-off oven for an extra five minutes, then peeled. An opening is made lengthwise with a very sharp knife:
The seeds are removed from the top and inside walls with a spoon, and “veins” may be dislodged as well for milder peppers. Once hollowed, hold the opening with the spoon for easy stuffing:
2) The peppers are stuffed. Two classic choices for stuffing are cheese (Puebla style) or Picadillo (Mexico City style). The cheese must melt when hot, for example: Oaxaca (similar to Mozarella), Chihuahua (Menonite style) or Mexican Manchego (similar to Fruilano or white Cheddar). For Picadillo, a ground beef stew, follow my recipe as it is, or try some of these variations: ½ cup of raisins may be used instead of potatoes, ½ cup of green olives for zucchini, or as in this case, omit vegetables:
Carefully securing the openings on the peppers with toothpicks helps prevent spillage of the stuffing:
3) A light tomato sauce called caldillo de tomate is prepared, to serve later with the peppers. Tomatoes, garlic and onions are processed in the blender, and the mix is added to a pan with hot oil, cooked for a couple of minutes, then seasoned and reduced on low heat, to keep hot until serving time:
4) A light egg coating is applied to the peppers, and then they are pan fried until golden brown. Foods coated with an egg batter and fried are called “capeados” which means “coated” or “under a layer.” This batter (from the French battre – to beat) is unique in that it contains only one ingredient: eggs.
The secret for a light coating is that the eggs are separated; the egg whites are beaten until foamy and white:
Then the egg yolks are folded into the whites, one by one, to achieve an airy batter, which must be used immediately.
The peppers are drenched in wheat flour (or cornstarch, for a gluten free option) and are ready to be immersed in the egg batter:
The amount of oil used is just enough to cover the bottom of the frying pan, but it must be heated as much as possible without smoking. The coated peppers are fried, flipping once, until golden-brown on both sides:
The fried peppers are traditionally placed in the hot caldillo to soak for five minutes before serving. Caldillo means “light broth” or “broth-like” referring to the use of this light sauce to soak other food in. However, I break with tradition in this case, and prefer to serve the caldillo either on the plate with the pepper on top, or on the side for dipping, so the capeados stay crisp. Serve with a side of refried beans sprinkled with grated cheese, or a portion of Mexican white rice.