One of our family’s favorite dishes to make with fresh Anaheim or Poblano chile peppers. This is not the traditional way to make them, which is typically with a beaten egg batter and served covered with sauce. This is how I learned and what we serve here at home.
- 8 Anaheim Chile Peppers (or Poblanos)
- Queso Fresco (as needed)
- 2 Cups Masa
- 1/4 Cup Corn Starch, plus a little extra for dusting
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1-2 Tbsp Hatch Chile Powder (optional)
- 1 Egg
- 2-1/2 Cups water
- Fry oil
Prepare the chiles
Place the chiles in an oven at 400ºF. Check regularly. When the skin starts to blister and brown on the top side, turn them over. When both sides are blistered, remove from the oven and place in a paper bag, folding over the open end several times so seal (or use a sealable plastic bag). Allow to cool. (If you leave them in the refrigerator overnight, they can be easier to work with in the next steps).
When they are cool, carefully peel off the skins. Remove as much as you can, but be careful about pulling too hard, especially close to the stem – you want the peppers as intact as possible.
Slice them open along the side and remove the seeds. I do this by using a paring knife to cut the seed bundle away from the stem and from where they attach to the sides. Once released like this, the seeds come out rather easily just by dipping the pepper in water.
Stuff the chiles
Crumble enough cheese to fill the peppers. I use a food processor to break up the Queso Fresco, sometimes adding some Cotija as well. Fill the peppers as much as you can, but not so much you can’t close them again. (Of course, you can use whatever cheese you prefer!)
Here’s a step you won’t see in other recipes: tie them closed and place in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes. Don’t leave them in too long or they’ll be cold in the middle when serving. The idea here is just to firm them up to make them easier to handle in the next steps. (The more common way to do this is to seal the peppers with a toothpick and remove it after frying).
Batter and fry
Mix the masa, corn starch, salt, and Hatch chile powder in a bowl. Add the egg and the water. I find 2-1/2 cups gives me the best consistency – you want it thin enough to pour easily but still thick enough to coat the peppers well.
In the meantime, fill a frying pan (or cast iron) about 1/2″ deep with oil and heat to ~325-350ºF.
Remove the ties from the peppers and dust them with corn starch. When the oil is ready, dip the peppers in the batter and cover them fully with the batter. Be careful to keep them from opening and dumping out the cheese! I like to just set them in the batter and scoop some over the top.
Lift carefully from the batter and place in the hot oil. Fry for a few minutes, then turn (I’ve never timed the frying, I just go by color). Turn again as necessary – you’re aiming for a nice golden brown color.
Drain and serve. We like them just as-is for the crispy batter, but sometimes we add a little sauce on top.