Recipe: Oaxacan Chile Rellenos

Shared by Amalia Smith Hale

On Tuesday, we posted a piece about migrant farmworkers in Vermont, many of whom come from the Oaxaca region of Mexico. In celebration of the culinary traditions of that region, (which many UVM students explore through the Oaxaca Study Abroad food systems track), we share the following recipe:

Oaxacan Chile Rellenos


¼ cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. ground Mexican canela (available at or cinnamon
1 bay leaf
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. finely chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
¼ cup blanched, slivered almonds, finely chopped
¼ cup raisins, finely chopped
2 tbsp. finely chopped pickled jalapeños
1 15-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 poblano chiles
2 cups canola oil
1 cup flour
4 eggs, separated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Salsa roja, to serve
Crumbled Cotija and chopped cilantro, for garnish


1. Make the picadillo: Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add beef, and cook, stirring, until browned and all liquid is evaporated, about 12 minutes. Drain off any oil or fat in pot and discard; return pot to heat. Add cinnamon and bay leaf, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add olives, almonds, raisins, jalapeños, and tomatoes, and cook, stirring until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Make the chiles: Heat broiler to high. Place poblano chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 20 minutes. Transfer chiles to a bowl, and let cool. Peel and discard skins and stems; cut a slit down the length of each chile. Remove and discard seeds and ribs, keeping chile intact. Place about ½ cup picadillo inside each chile, and tightly close chile around filling. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, place flour on a shallow plate, and set aside. Beat egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form; whisk in egg yolks, and season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, dredge each chile in flour, shaking off excess, and then coat in egg batter. Place in oil, and fry, flipping once, until golden brown and filling is heated through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chiles to a wire rack to drain. Transfer to serving plates and drizzle with salsa, if you like; top with cheese and cilantro before serving.

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