After spending a week in Santa Fe, I’m in a chili frame of mind and just have to share some of what I learned while stuffing myself all week. Believe me when I say: This is gonna be good. But enough talk already – let’s get that grill fired up and make a quick Tomatillo and Green Chili Salsa…
…and while the salsa is going on about it’s own business and its’ flavors are getting acquainted with each other we’ll be whipping up an easy, cheesy, Chili Relleno Bake.
Then we’ll introduce them to each other.
Let’s get started on the salsa first, shall we? This recipe is an adaptation of one I learned last week while attending a Green Chili Sauce Workshop at the Santa Fe Cooking School. It was a lot of fun and I made some fine new friends. Once I got home, I started fooling around with the recipe. How could it be easier? Quicker? A little less, um, spicy for wimps like me? Aha! Just change up the chilis, throw everything on the grill and let nature take it’s course. The first step is the tomatillos. Have you seen them before? They kind of look like a tomato with a husk on it. Just peel those husks off, give them a good rinse, and there you go.
We’ll also use some green chilis. In class we just used serrano peppers, which are hot hot. I decided to change it up a little and add some Anahiem and Jalapeño peppers. These guys go along with a thickly sliced white onion and some garlic which I have smashed. Toss in some olive oil, add some salt and throw them into a grill basket. Crank up the grill to medium high and start roasting.
You kind of need to keep your eyes on these guys because some of them will be done faster than the others. The garlic can be tricky, and you want them off the heat once they are soft and not charred. Charred garlic is bitter and that would be a giant buzz kill. The peppers can be blacked and blistered, and the onions should be softened and have char marks. The tomatillos should be soft and will also have some char. This is a good thing. Peel the skins off the peppers – it will be easy if you use the blade of a paring knife. Then get those stems off and take out the seeds and the inner membrane which is were most of the heat resides. Cut the stems off of the tomatillos, but no need to peel.
You’re going to roughly chop the tomatillos and finely chop the rest of the group.
Now all that’s left is stirring them all together, adding some olive oil and salt to taste. If you are a cilantro person, add a handful. If not, leave it out. Dive on in. You earned it.
But hold on!! Let’s leave some for our next act: Chilli Relleno Bake. It’s a recipe I’ve adapted years ago from Epicurious, and is great for brunch, supper, tailgates, and any other occasion when food is involved. The first step is to grate some cheese. You choose what works best for you. I used a combination of Monterrey Jack, Cheddar, and Colby Jack – all Tillamook. You’ll also need a large 27 ounce can of green chilis. Split them open, cut them in half, and scrape out any seeds left in there.
To assemble: think lasagne. Down goes a layer of chilis, then a layer of cheese, then another layer of chilis, then top the whole business with more cheese. Then all you do is whip up an easy combination of milk, eggs, and a little flour and pour over the top. Toss it in the oven and in 35 minutes…
TRY to let it cool. Slice and go after it. Maybe with some warm tortillas?
Don’t forget the salsa!
Maybe, if you like a little more spice, you have a good friend like Kevin O’Donnell who sent us these dried hot chilis from his garden. Thanks Kevin!! I also found some cute little yellow peppers in the olive section of my supermarket, and filled them with some sour cream. Just horsing around.
Thanks to the Santa Fe Cooking School for the Salsa inspiration, and to my new pals K.K. and Michelle. I had such fun cooking with you!!
Happy cooking everyone!! xoxox
- CHILI RELLENO BAKE
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
- 1, 27 ounce can whole green chilies, split open, halved, and seeds removed
- 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
- GRILLED TOMATILLO AND GREEN CHILI SALSA
- 2 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 Anaheim Chilies, 2 Jalapeno Chilies, and 2 Serrano Chilies
- 1 white onion, peeled and sliced into ½ inch rounds
- 4 tablespoons canola, olive, or avocado oil
- Salt to taste
- Agave nectar, to taste
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped (optional)
- For the Chili Relleno Bake:
- Butter or spray cooking spray in a 13x9 inch-baking dish.
- Use an immersion blender or mixer to beat together eggs, milk, flour, and salt & pepper. Set aside.
- Arrange chilies in bottom of baking dish to cover entire bottom of the pan. Cover with a layer of ½ of the cheese, then add another layer of chilies, then finish with remaining cheese.
- Pour egg mixture over the top of chili mixture.
- Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until casserole is puffed and turning golden brown on the edges. Center should be set and a knife inserted in center should come out clean. This will take around 40 minutes, but it’s a good idea to start checking at about 30 minutes.
- For the Grilled Tomatillo Salsa:
- Toss the tomatillos, garlic, chilies, and onion with oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill in a grill basket over medium high heat until tomatillos and garlic are softened, onions are softened and slightly charred, and peppers are charred.
- Allow to cool and remove skins, seeds, and membranes from the chilies. Chop chilies, onion, and garlic finely. Remove stems from tomatillos and chop coarsely.
- Toss with oil and salt. Taste and add agave if you need to add some sweetness. If you like a ‘juicer’ salsa, mash with a potato masher until the consistency you like.