chile relleno balls
Makes about 30 2-inch chiles rellenos
- 1 3/4 pounds beef chuck
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 cup beef stock
- 1 cup chopped roasted mild, medium, or hot New Mexican green chile, fresh or thawed frozen
- 1 to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (if needed)
- RELLENO BATTER
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup flour for dredging
- vegetable oil or lard, for deep frying
For rellenos balls:
Warm a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot over high heat. Salt the meat and then place it in the skillet and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Scatter garlic cloves around meat. Pour in stock and scrape up browned bits from the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours, until tender. Check after about 1 hour and if the liquid is in danger of evaporating completely pour in a few tablespoons of hot water. Let the meat cool in the pan liquid, and when it's cool enough to handle discxard the fat and pull meat into at least 6 chuncks. Reduce remaining cooking liquid to about 2 tablespoons.
Chop together the meat, garlic cloves and cooking liquid in a food processor, pulsing just until the meat is chopped uniformly. Add the chile and pulse in several short bursts until the chile is mixed in evenly. The mixture should be fairly finely chopped but pieces of the chile should still be visible. The meat and chile mixture should be well seasoned. Add salt if you wish. Check the texture of the mixture. If it holds together when compacted tightly it's ready. If not, add 1 tablespoon of flour and pulse once more until flour is mixed in. Teest again. If not holding together, add up to 1 more tablespoon of flour and pulse again.
Form ovals of the meat and chile mixture with your hands, making them about 2 inches long but about 1 inch in diameter. Arrange on a baking sheet. Refrigerate brifely while you ready the batter and oil.
Beat the egg whites with a mixer until soft peaks form. Stop the mixer and add the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of flour then mix again, just until combined.
Warm 3 to 4 inches of oil in a broad saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat to 350*F. Place 1/2 cup of flour in a shallow bowl. Arrange several thickness of paper towels within easy reach of the stove.
Dredge balls first in flour then in the egg batter. Your first few may look a bit free-form rather than like perfect spheres. Experiment to see if you find batter dipping easiest with fingers, using a small spoon as a scoop or spearing the balls with a thin-tined fork.
Gently add balls to the oil a few at a time. The balls will sink to the bottom, then rise back up to the top of the oil. Fry until the batter coating is puffed, golden brown and lightly crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Nudge balls around a bit with a slotted spoon as needed to fry evenly. Using the slotted spoon, remove the balls and drain on paper towels. Continue until all chile rellenos balls are fried adjusting the oil temperature as needed to keep it steady. Eat warm.
Working ahead: Though they sound like something you'd probably have to eat immediately, these chiles rellenos were typically made ahead in big batches, cooled, then stored in paper-lined coffee cans to enjoy at room temperature over a few days. it was common to toss a few in pockets or saddlebags when hunting, fishing or working cattle. You may not be headed out to the woods or corral, but you can divide the advance preparation into steps. Cook the beef one day and shred it or go ahead and chop it with the chile and form it into balls, refrigerating overnight. then wisk up the batter and fry shortly before you plan to serve the chiles rellenos.
Variations: In some families the meat and chile mixture would have a tablespoon or more of sugar or brown sugar mixed into it along with raisins and occasionally nuts, more like a Mexican holiday picadillo. Other cooks intesify the sweeness, serving them with a sugar syrup for dunking at the table or drizzling the fried balls with sugar syrup before offering them to guests. For a crisper almost crunchy surface, fry the batter-dipped balls at 375* F for 3 to 4 minutes. Some families opt for a rounder shape to their rellenos balls. Form golf-ball size rounds, then dunk in flour and batter as above and fry at 350* F for almost 4 minutes.