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This recipe is often enjoyed without meat, where the peppers are simply stuffed with the cheese mixture. Even for a cheese lover like me, though, that can be a little much. This recipe incorporates chorizo sausage. Adjust the balance of sausage and cheese to your own liking.
1. Roast & Prepare the Peppers
Place the chiles directly over a medium flame on a gas stove. Turn the peppers with tongs until they are entirely covered in black blisters (5-10 min), being careful not to roast them any longer to prevent bitterness. Immediately but gently put the peppers into a plastic bag and close the bag. Leave in bag for 15 minutes to sweat. This will make the skins easier to remove while the steam continues to cook the peppers’ flesh.
Gently remove the roasted peppers and peel them. Do not rinse. Carefully make a lengthwise slit in each pepper and remove the seeds and membranes.
Soak the chiles in cool water to cover with 1 Tbl salt and 2 tsp. vinegar for 20 minutes. Rinse, drain, and set aside.
2. Prepare the Sauce
In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pushing the mixture with a spatula or spoon until all that is left in the strainer is a relatively dry lump of pulp. Discard the pulp.
Heat 1 Tbl oil in a skillet, add the tomato puree and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat, add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and the herbs. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Stuff the Peppers
Remove the peppers from the salt water brine to drain briefly on paper towels. Fill each chile with about two tablespoons of meat and 1/4 cup of cheese, then set aside. Be sure that the flaps of the peppers can still touch enough to close around the filling. Heat frying oil while you prepare the batter. Be sure there is enough oil to cover the peppers at least 1/2 way, so you only need to turn them once.
4. Prepare the Batter
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold in the yolks one at a time. Season flour with S&P, and spread flour mixture on a plate. Turn 1 chile in the flour to coat lightly, then dip into the eggs, making sure that it is coated completely with no gaps in the batter. Add chile to oil and fry on each side until medium brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat flour/batter/deep-fry process with remaining stuffed peppers. Hold finished rellenos in a warm (170 - 200 F) oven while you finish frying the others.
Warm the sauce and serve under the fried peppers to prevent a soggy relleno.
TIP: Roast one or two extra peppers in case of breakage. MAKE AHEAD: Prepare recipe through step three. Cover, refrigerate sauce and stuffed peppers up to four hours. CHEESE NOTE: Use equal parts Chihuahua Mexican cheese and a sharp, dry, hard cheese.
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