The plan was flawless. I would take a proven recipe for good chiles rellenos and would make it even better with the addition of chopped brisket, left over from the whole brisket I smoked a few weeks ago and subsequently frozen. What could go wrong? Last night, I found out.
Well, to start, the “proven” recipe wasn’t proven by me. It was a recipe I found online and, judging from the comments, was extraordinarily good. And the recipe called for first charring and then stuffing fresh pasilla peppers. Not recalling at the time I read the recipe that pasilla peppers are the dried version of chilaca peppers, I didn’t catch the first clue that the recipe was, from the outset, flawed. When I went looking for chiles pasillas, I could only find them dried (for the reason that the ONLY way a chile is a pasilla is that it’s dried), so I opted to substitute chiles poblanos.
Assuming I’d have nice, plump chiles rellenos after stuffing and frying the chiles, I made the sauce to pour over them before preparing the chiles. I boiled several roma tomatoes in water until I could easily slip off their skins, then continued to cook them as I added chopped garlic, chicken bouillon power, cumin, and salt. Then, I made a roux with 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of flour; when it had browned, I dumped the tomato mixture into the roux pan and mixed it up. It had the texture and the taste I wanted. Success!
Things went horribly wrong, though, when I followed the instructions for charring the “pasilla” chiles. The instructions called for putting the chiles under the broiler until all their skin were black and blistered, then removing them to a plastic bag to sweat, removing the blistered skin, then slitting them to remove the seeds.
Well, after charring the chiles and letting them sweat, I pulled them out of the bag to peel the skin. What I found was, as my sister once called her caviar pie, a “certifiable mess.” My attempts to peel the peppers resulted in ripping their limp, wet flesh into thin, disconnected strips. There was no “slitting them to remove the seeds.” Impossible. The seeds were oozing out of the slippery black and green mess. It would have been impossible to stuff chopped brisket and asadero cheese into these chiles, much less use a toothpick to keep them closed when I dipped them in batter and fried them. There was no longer a chile to stuff. My flawless plan fell into shreds along with the chiles. But, did I give up? Hell, no! I quickly developed Plan B.
Plan B was this:
- coat the bottom of a glass casserole dish with oil;
- line the bottom of the dish with the limp, wet shreds of poblano peppers;
- top the peppers with a thick layer of chopped brisket;
- top the brisket with a heavy layer of asadero cheese;
- top the cheese with the tomato sauce;
- cover the casserole dish with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes;
- remove the foil and cook for 10 minutes more;
- serve a perfect casserole.
The result was a wonderfully flavorful but decidedly imperfect, very soupy casserole. By any measure, the dish I put on our plates was disastrously distant from the dish I intended to put on our plates. But the flavor was so good, the spices so perfectly melded, the level of “heat” so right, that I will try again to make brisket-stuffed chiles rellenos. I will do it differently, though. I don’t know at this moment just how I will do it differently, but I will make some changes. Next time, I will make chiles rellenos stuffed with brisket and asadero chese, instead of a layered poblano, brisket, asadero cheese, and tomato sauce soup.