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Recipe Road Test: Chiles Rellenos Casserole from "Eating Clean with a Dirty Mind"

EatingCleanDirtyMind200I love a cookbook with a title that's easy to remember and Eating Clean with a Dirty Mind certainly has that going for it.  While the 150 paleo-inspired recipes primarily focus on the sweet side of life--everything from cupcakes to ice cream sandwiches--there is also a really nice meal section that includes a Chiles Rellenos Casserole.

This recipe gets top marks for ease and taste--20 minutes of prep, 20 minutes to cook and it's on the table ready to be devoured.  I've made the dish a couple of times and because the chiles are mild, even those who usually shy away are wooed by the combination of flavors. You can do a layered version or just mix it all together, I like the layered best but of course it tastes great either way.  Next on my list for this cookbook is one the many desserts--Browned Butter Caramel Banana Tart? Definitely.


ChileRellenosCasseroleChiles Rellenos Casserole
dairy free
nut free

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

When I was a kid, I hated casseroles. My mom would make this chicken and broccoli casserole that we would eat like four times a week, I swear. I hated it. Sorry, Mom, I hope you aren't reading this. As an adult, though, it turns out that I LOVE casseroles. Go figure. You just throw everything in and bake your way to yum. I'm always looking for new recipes and for ways to turn favorite dishes into casseroles. I love chiles rellenos, so it only seemed right to make a chiles rellenos casserole.

6 cups (1.4 L) water, for boiling
4 poblano (pasilla) chiles or Anaheim chiles (11 ounces/325 g)
1 pound (455 g) ground beef
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ medium white onion, diced
3 large eggs, beaten
4 to 6 slices pepper jack cheese (optional)
½ cup (32 g) crumbled or grated Cotija cheese (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Bring the water to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. While the water is coming to temperature, de-stem and de-seed the chiles. Cut each chile lengthwise into four sections. Place the chiles in the boiling water and parboil for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.

2. While the chiles are boiling, combine the beef, salt, and spices in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring intermittently, until the meat has almost browned, then add the diced onion and continue to cook until the meat is completely browned. Drain any excess liquid and set aside.

3. Place a layer of the chiles across the bottom of an 8-inch (20-cm) square glass pan or casserole dish. Top with a layer of beef. Repeat this process, placing the chiles in the opposite direction this time. Next, slowly and evenly pour the beaten eggs across the top of the layers, covering as much area as possible. The eggs will bake into the ingredients and in between the layers, helping them hold together. If using, top with the pepper jack cheese slices and sprinkle the Cotija across the top. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the chiles have softened and darkened in color. If a crispier top cheese layer is preferred, place under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Notes: To make this casserole dairy-free, omit the Cotija cheese and substitute almond milk cheese for the pepper jack, which can be found at most health food stores, or omit the cheese entirely. Don't feel as if you'll be missing out; the beef and chiles offer plenty of flavor.

When working with chiles, be sure not to touch your face until you are able to wash your hands. The oils can sting your eyes or mouth. Also, if you have asthma, the chiles can aggravate it, similar to the way onions make you cry. Be sure to work in an open area that is well ventilated.

You could also try chopping up the chile peppers and mixing them into the casserole if you don't want a layered look. 


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