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Farmers Market Fresh Recipe: Grassfed Beef Chile Relleno

A healthy spin on a classic Mexican favorite made with items from Santee's Farmers Market.

Crispy, cheesy, crunchy Chile Relleno is one of my all-time favorite dishes. I don't enjoy them often enough because because they are so heavy, deep-fried and stuffed with cheese! 

A self-proclaimed cheese lover, any dish that is spilling out with delicious cheese is likely to win me over, but let's face it, the chile is just an excuse to eat deep-fried cheese. The yogi in me cannot swallow it so I came up with a healthier, more rounded version that still has cheese and crunch without the excessive amount of calories and saturated fat by baking instead of deep-frying and reducing the amount of cheese.

A new vendor, Sandhill Beef, was selling grass-fed beef (Santee's Farmer's Market vendors come and go, so items tend to have limited availability) fresh from the farm.  Grass-fed beef is healthier to consume than the larger industry standard of corn fed or grain fed beef.  Grass-fed beef are lower in fat and calories, more nutrient dense, contains far fewer contaminants such as E-coli and other bacteria found in the gut of cattle, and are better for the environment, leaving a smaller carbon footprint than grain-fed: www.csuchico.edu/grassfedbeef/research/health-lit.shtml.

I purchased some grass-fed ground beef, then picked up some cilantro, Anaheim chiles (Poblano chiles can substitute), bell peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes and limes at the produce stand. After buying a few more favorites (Sugar Dates!) I left the farmer's market to pick up a few more ingredients before returning home to make my grass-fed beef chile rellenos.

Grass-fed Beef Chile Rellenos

1 pound grass-fed ground beef

6-8 Anaheim or Poblano peppers

8 oz. Cotija Cheese (substitue other semi-hard Mexican cheese or Cheddar or White Cheddar) crumbled or grated

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 can chipotles in adobo sauce

2 tsp. ground cumin

salt to taste

Bread crumbs

Tomato Sauce (see recipe for hot salsa below)

Preheat oven to 500. Roast chiles until skin is blackened and chiles are softened, approximately 20 minutes (all ovens vary).  Once cooled, peel charred skin and slit pepper down the middle on one side to stuff, remove seeds and stem.

While peppers roast, sautee onion, bell pepper until softened, then add garlic, a few chipotles in adobo (depending how hot you like it!), cumin and ground beef. Saute until browned and cooked through. Mix with 2/3 of cheese and chopped cilantro and stuff peppers with meat and cheese mixture. Taste, add salt if needed (Cotija cheese is very salty so you may not need much additional salt).

Mix remainder of cheese with bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of stuffed peppers.  Broil on high until cheese melts and top gets crispy, 5 minutes or so.

Spoon some of the tomato sauce on the plate and top with 2 stuffed chiles. Serve hot with limes to garnish, I like to serve with black and pinto refried beans on the side-YUM!

Serves 4-6.

Tomato Sauce

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 chopped red bell pepper

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup white vinegar

1-2 tsp honey

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (if you like it really hot, add some chopped chipotles in adobo)

1-2 tsp salt

Simmer ingredients together for about 20 minutes. Adjust salt or honey if too strong with vinegar. Add chopped cilantro after cooking and serve hot.

Donna Covington October 26, 2011 at 11:37 PM
That sounds delicious but how about a calorie count? Thanks!
Doug Curlee October 27, 2011 at 04:15 AM
donna.. that just might fall under the category of questions you don't really want to know the answers to...:-) doug

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