Baked Chiles Rellenos with Turkey-Bean Stuffing

Alas, it is nearly the end of August, and that means two things:  it is hotter than hell, and Hatch chiles are in season.

For the uninitiated, Hatch peppers are probably, bar none, the best green chiles one can ever hope to consume.  Grown in Hatch, New Mexico, like champagne and bourbon, they can only be called those things if they hail from the specific geographic regions they originate from.

Hatch peppers are a foodie’s fondest dream, especially if that foodie has a love of all things capsaicin (the compound responsible for the heat in chile peppers of any sort).  The peppers can be mild, and impart only a hint of heat to the dish which they are added to, or they can be hotter than hot and leave a lingering burn that burns oh so good.

A few weeks ago, I’d made a mango salsa that had a poblano pepper in it.  Typically, poblanos are pretty mild when it comes to heat, measured in Scoville units.  Hatch peppers are pretty close on the Scoville scale when compared to poblanos, but can still pack quite a punch.

After seeing how gorgeous the poblanos at Central Market were last week, I decided we’d have chiles rellenos for dinner one night.  I’d gotten a recipe for some sort of turkey taco bean dip via email from Hungry Girl and wanted to try it, but needed to modify it since it had onions in it (one of SB’s allergens).  I also didn’t want to eat it as a dip, since I’d eat more chips than dip (my damn Kryptonite, tortilla chips are).  I also had a can of Hatch green chile enchilada sauce in my larder that needed to be used and that could be subbed into the Hungry Girl recipe.  So I figured I’d stuff some peppers with the filling and top them with a bit of cheese.  Here is the result:

A twist on the traditional chile relleno, this recipe does not roast the chiles first, nor does it dredge then fry them. Packed full of fiber, this is an easy, healthy dinner that can be put together in a short amount of time.

They were super easy to make, and full of heat from the Hatch chile sauce that was a part of the stuffing.  Here’s how I did it.  You will need:

  • 1 pound 93/7 ground turkey
  • 1 can Hatch green chile enchilada sauce (I used mild; you can ramp up the heat if you like)*
  • 1 can fat-free refried beans
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt to taste

*In lieu of Hatch green chile sauce, just plain ol’ green chile enchilada sauce (like Old El Paso or others) can be used.  The flavor won’t be the same, though.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey and drain the excess fat.  To the turkey, add the can of green chile enchilada sauce, cumin and garlic powder.  Allow these to cook together for about 10 minutes so that the meat takes on the flavor of the chile sauce.  After that, add the can of refried beans, stir to combine and let this mixture heat until it bubbles slightly.

While the meat and bean mixture is cooking, slit the peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds without removing the stems.  You can remove the stems if you like, but I left mine on for presentation purposes.  I recommend using gloves to seed the peppers, as the capsaicin will get onto your skin and subsequently anything you touch.  Let’s put it this way, I now know what it must be like to be pepper sprayed. 🙂

Once your peppers are slit open and seeded, check your meat/bean mixture.  If it is a little bubbly, stir in 3/4 cup of the Monterrey Jack cheese and allow it to melt into the mixture.  Once the cheese has melted, lay the peppers in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish, and fill each pepper with the meat/bean mixture.  The amount will vary and will be determined by the size of your peppers.  You may have leftover filling–save it for a burrito!  Divide the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese among the tops of the 4 peppers, and bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes until the peppers blister slightly and your cheese is nice and brown.

This recipe made 4 servings and was served over brown rice.  With the amount of filling that I ended up with, I could have stuffed another pepper if I’d had one.  Additionally, this recipe could easily be converted to a vegetarian one with the omission of the turkey meat.  It could also be made vegan if a cheese substitute were used.  Give it a try!

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