Chiles Rellenos With Salsa Roja Risotto

These are not chiles rellenos in the true sense of the dish – they're not made with Poblano chillies or filled with traditional ingredients, or battered and deep-fried. They are, however, inspired by chiles rellenos and they are also, quite literally, stuffed (chilli) peppers. This is not risotto either – it is not made with arborio rice, and it is not cooked in the traditional manner. However, the end result is very similar.
Serves
4
Total Time
2 Hours
Ingredients
8 red romano peppers
200g of short-grain brown rice, soaked for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight)
300g of feta, roughly broken into small pieces
200g of buffalo mozzarella, drained well, patted dry & torn into medium chunks
2 spring onions, julienned
5g of fresh coriander leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve
Salsa Roja
2 tbsp of olive oil
15g of unsalted butter
1 medium onion (120g), peeled & finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated/crushed
300g of sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes, such as Datterini
½ dried ancho chilli
1 dried habanero chilli (or a pinch of regular/chipotle chilli flakes, if you prefer milder heat)
1 tsp of cumin seeds
½ tsp of coriander seeds
1 tsp of fine salt
120g of water
2 tsp of tomato purée/paste
Method
Step 1
Turn the oven grill to the highest setting.
Step 2
Cut a slit along one side of each pepper, keeping them attached at the top and bottom. Arrange the peppers on a rack set over a baking tray, slit-side up.
Step 3
Grill until soft and blackened in patches, about 7 minutes, then turn the peppers and grill for another 4-8 minutes, until that side is soft and blackened in patches too. Keep an eye on them, as they may be ready sooner if your grill runs hot. Set the tray aside and leave the peppers to cool on the rack, slit side down, so any liquid drains away.
Step 4
Cook the rice. Drain the soaked rice and put into a medium saucepan with 450g of water. Bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Once simmering, lower the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes with the lid still on.
Step 5
While the rice is cooking, make the salsa. Put the first 10 ingredients (everything except the water and tomato purée/paste) into a large sauté pan on a medium- high heat and fry, stirring often, for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and the onions are soft and golden-brown. Turn the heat down to medium or medium-low if the mixture starts to catch or burn.
Step 6
Discard the habanero (or squeeze it with the back of a spoon before removing it if you like heat). Transfer the salsa to a blender with the water and tomato purée/ paste and blend until completely smooth. Return to the pan and set aside.
Step 7
Turn the oven grill to the highest setting.
Step 8
Now stuff the peppers. Mix the feta and mozzarella together in a bowl. Transfer the peppers from the rack to a foil-lined tray. Peel some of the skin off – just the bits that tear away easily (you don’t want to rip a hole in the peppers). Pat the insides dry and season with a pinch of salt. Stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with a little flaked salt and drizzle over a little oil. You can prepare the peppers up to this point up to 4 hours ahead.
Step 9
Grill for 7-9 minutes near the top of the oven, until the cheese is bubbling and browned in patches. Set aside to cool for a few minutes (but not for too long, as the melted cheese will begin to harden).
Step 10
Add the cooked rice to the pan with the salsa roja, stir together and gently heat through for a minute. The texture should be that of a loose, saucy risotto; add a splash of water if it’s looking thick.
Step 11
To serve, spoon the risotto onto a platter and top with the peppers. Finish with the spring onions and coriander, squeeze over some lime and serve.

Extracted from Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press, £26)

All photography by Yuki Sugiura.

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