With Shavuot approaching, people’s palates anticipate tastes of favorite dairy dishes: blintzes, cheesecake, lasagna, ice cream, bagels and lox. But if you are bored with bagels, blasé about blintzes and lukewarm about lasagna, do what we do in my house — culinarily speaking: We go south of the border for a Tex-Mex treat.
Tex-Mex is a delicious fusion of American simplicity with traditional Northern Mexican cuisine brought to Texas before it became a republic. The traditional ingredients and flavors are rice and beans, corn and peppers, cumin and cilantro, cheese and meat. To keep it kosher, we make our recipes either dairy or meat; the recipe that follows is dairy.
For Shavuot, we salivate for is chiles rellenos, stuffed chili peppers. Not to be confused with jalapeno peppers, these whole chiles are mild and sweet.
The basic method is to stuff peppers with cheese, coat them with an egg and flour sauce, and then fry them crispy brown. The cheese melts into the peppers and satisfies your taste buds’ desire for salty, spicy and fried all at once. You could probably order it at a Mexican restaurant, but it’s so easy to make at home that once you do it, it will be a regular part of your holiday repertoire.
Whole roasted peppers can be bought in large cans. There are several brands that are kosher. The adventurous chef can buy fresh Anaheim or Poblano chiles and roast them at home.
Stuffed chili peppers
2 cans whole green chiles (4 oz. cans)
½ pound Monterey Jack cheese
4 tablespoons flour
About ¼ cup mild oil such as canola oil
Chopped scallions, optional
Store-bought or homemade salsa
Stuff: Cut the cheese into strips to fit inside the pepper, about a half-inch wide and 2 inches long. You may need to split the pepper just enough to stuff it with a cheese strip, one per pepper. Cut off any cheese that is sticking out of the pepper.
Dredge: Coat stuffed peppers with flour and put them aside on a plate.
Mix: Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. (Don’t allow any yolk to get in.) In a separate bowl, beat the yolks until creamy. Fold the yolks into the whites, adding flour a little at a time as you fold.
Batter: Dip each stuffed pepper into the egg batter, one at a time, turning it to coat and set aside. Spoon extra batter on top to make sure each pepper is well covered.
Fry: Heat about ½ inch of oil in a large frying pan, at a medium-high temperature. Carefully slide each pepper into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. If there are any bare spots, spoon more batter on. Turn once, gently. As you finish, you may want to place them in a warm oven until all are done.
Season with salt and pepper and a garnish of chopped scallions and salsa. Serve hot.
Increase the fusion aspect by spooning sour cream over the chiles rellenos before serving.
If you want to put together the Shapiro family’s entire Shavout dairy Tex-Mex meal, you can prepare any combination of the following dishes: gazpacho (cold tomato soup, enchilladas (tortillas filled with cheese and sauce and baked), refried beans, rice, guacamole (avocado dip), flan (caramel custard), and either sangria (wine punch) or Dos Equis (Mexican beer).
Simone Shapiro can be reached at [email protected] She is a correspondent for The Jewish Chronicle, which serves the Pittsburgh area.