This may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but here on the island of Bonaire we live in near desert conditions. Not much grows here naturally other than hardy, thorny plants. Anything else requires a lot a of water, which in turn is expensive since all of our potable water comes from desalinated ocean water.
So when my family showed up with a fresh pepper sampler (along with a few dried peppers), I was thrilled, since they have to be imported, and usually aren’t too fresh by the time they arrive in our markets on Bonaire.
Pictured above are jalapeño peppers, banana peppers, Serrano peppers, Habañero peppers, Poblano (what we were told, but they don’t look like Poblanos to me), and dried Ancho chili peppers.
One of the interesting things I learned about pepper varieties today is that Ancho chili peppers are dried Poblano peppers. They also go by the name “Pasilla” (incorrectly).
There’s a video about dried chili peppers here, which explains that the narrower the pepper and the more seeds, the hotter (spicier) it is. That did not prove to be the case for the narrow banana peppers above, which were flavorful but not at all spicy.
After a year of making chili rellenos with jalapeño peppers instead of the poblanos required in the original recipe, we finally found poblano peppers here on Bonaire! Even making the recipe for the last year, it is far from perfected, but we have discovered ways to make it easier on my mom and myself.
What makes our recipe low carb is that regular chili rellenos recipes require a corn flour batter to coat the peppers with. Flour is obviously not low carb. So we use beaten eggs instead.
The first thing to do when looking for the perfect pepper for this recipe is an unblemished jalapeño or preferably poblano pepper.
– 6 poblanos (or 10 jalapeños)
– 3 x 8 oz. packs of full fat cream cheese
– 1 x 8 oz. Four Cheese Mexican blend pack
– 4 eggs
– 3 paper bags
First of all, set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then wash the poblanos and dry them off well. On a gas stovetop, lay a flat grill rack on the burner area. You need an open flame for roasting the peppers. Strategically place the peppers so that they are directly over the flame. Turn the pepper when the side facing the flame is entirely black with bubbling skin. When the pepper is black on all sides, stuff the pepper into a paper bag and roll up the opening to keep the steam in. After about 5 minutes, the peppers should be cool enough to pick up.
At this point, and when using jalapeños, I would search for gloves or a victim. The burn in a jalapeños can vary but I would not ever take a chance with getting a hot one while barehanded. This is due to a previous accident when making chili rellenos with jalapeños. After gutting about 10 of them, my fingers started hurting like crazy. My mom and I tried everything to make it stop, from sour cream to aloe. It did not work…. And that is why I suggest gloves.
Take a pepper out and start peeling off the skin while attempting not to break apart the flesh of the pepper. My mom used a small knife for this, but finger nails are almost as successful. We peeled the skin into the sink because this is long process.
Take a knife and slit one side of the pepper, from the stem to the very tip of the pepper. The seeds will be just as hard to take out of the pepper as the skin was to remove and just as sticky. The likelihood of making a gaping hole in the opposite side of your slit is high, so be wary of pulling on strings of the flesh. And wear gloves if it’s a jalapeño.
Mix the cream cheese and the four cheese Mexican blend in a bowl until thoroughly mixed.
Take out a large casserole dish and spray with Pam or grease it with butter. Lay the peppers on the bottom of the casserole dish and start stuffing the peppers with the cheese mixture. Don’t overstuff them. The rest of the cheese can rolled up into little balls and placed around peppers. They melt really well and are yummy to eat separate from the peppers as well.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and brush it over the peppers and dump the rest into the dish. Put the peppers into the oven for 30 minutes, or until the egg is cooked.