Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chili Rellenos Makeover

Here's the newest creation sparked by a recent co-op basket: Chicken Chili Rellenos made with poblano peppers. I got four poblano peppers in my basket and thought this would be a fun dish to try. You should be able to find poblano peppers at your local grocery store.

Typically a fried entree, this one needed a healthy makeover. I've never used poblano peppers before and quite honestly, they're a little high maintenance. I've seen Bobby Flay, of the Food Network, use them quite often in his cooking--and he swears by their unique and smoky flavor. It is delicious! This dish is easy enough for the beginning cook, but I would save it for a weekend when you've got a little more time to spend on preparing dinner. Using poblano peppers takes a couple extra preparatory steps, so allow yourself an extra 20 minutes. I promise--getting rid of their tough skin is much easier than it sounds! If you don't want to give the poblanos a try, green bell peppers would speed the process along and also be tasty.

Chicken Poblanos Rellenos
Serves 4.


  • 4 poblano peppers, washed
  • 4 small chicken breasts, 3 ounces each (may substitute canned chicken)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced (may substitute 1 can diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat cheese, any type
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • Olive oil, for pan
  • Cooking spray
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder

Extra equipment

Gallon size zip-seal bag


  • Season chicken breasts lightly with each of the above seasonings. Grill chicken and whole peppers over medium heat. 
  • Cook chicken until just done (opaque in center with juices running clear), remove from grill and chop into small pieces. Grill peppers, turning once, until skin is blistered and/or charred.
Chopped chicken
  • While you've got the grill going, heat a pan over medium heat. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Saute onion until just translucent, add jalapenos and continue to sautee until they begin to turn golden. 
  • Add tomatoes, stir to combine. 
  • Add chopped chicken and stir. When liquid is almost gone, reduce heat to low.
Chicken mixture

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove peppers from grill and place in a gallon-sized zip-sealed bag (or a bowl covered in plastic wrap) for 10 minutes. Remove peppers from the bag and gently peel skin off. It should peel easily! Slice the tops off, remove the seeds and make one slice lengthwise so that the pepper unrolls and lays in one piece.
  • Place peppers on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray (easier clean up!). Fill the center of each pepper with chicken mixture. Make sure to leave enough of the pepper around the edge so you can wrap the pepper around the chicken. Bring edges of the pepper together on top of the chicken mixture and secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle each Relleno with cornmeal and spray tops lightly with cooking spray. 
  • Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until cornmeal begins to turn golden. Pull from the oven and top each pepper with cheese. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown. Serve with rice.

Now your fiesta can be a healthy one too with this nutrient-packed, low calorie version of the traditional Mexican Chili Rellenos. Enjoy!