Feb 27, 2013 6:54 PM by Jennifer English

Chile rellenos from El Charro

When I first started traveling to Tucson before I moved here, I did some reading about what places I should visit and especially where I should eat. One place was on every single list. El Charro. Not only is El Charro one of Tucson's best restaurant's of any sort: reliable, delicious, authentic. It remains the nation's oldest family operated Mexican restaurant. El Charro defines the taste of Tucson and my first trip there was a revelation. As though I finally saw what I had been missing all these years.

Chef Carlotta Flores and her family took over the operation of the original downtown El Charro, ( which has been honored by Gourmet Magazine, the New York Times, the late food writer Johnny Apple and just about anyone else worth mentioning) along with several additional delicious locations. One of those locations is closing next week at El Mercado when CVS takes over the location and bulldozes it as a prelude to a new pharmacy. I suppose this is progress. I had my first Chili Relleno at the El Mercado location. It was magic. Warm, melty cheese encased in an entire roasted chili that was battered and deep fried. The crispy bits along the edge and the cheese.
How could I have been missing this?! We have many visitors in town who will learn who we are and what this place we call home is by virtue of our cuisine. Hopefully one last trip to El Charro Mercado and a bite of a chili relleno will say it all.

o 8 fresh green chilies ( stems intact, roasted and peeled)
o 1 lb cheddar cheese or 1 lb monterey jack cheese, shredded
o 3 eggs
o 3 tablespoons flour
o 1 teaspoon salt
o 1 teaspoon pepper
o 1/4 cup oil
o 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or all mixed) or 2 cups provolone cheese (or all mixed) or 2 cups monterey jack cheese ( or all mixed)

1. Stuff each chile with cheese, and set aside.
2. Separate eggs and beat the whites until stiff. Beat yolks and fold into whites, along with flour, salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Dip stuffed chiles, one at a time, into egg batter, then remove with a large spoon. Carefully lower coated chiles into hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time. Fry until golden brown on both sides. The chiles may be made ahead to this point.
4. To serve immediately, arrange on platter or individual plates and pour warm Taco Sauce over each chile. Garnish with more cheese and run under broiler to melt cheese, if desired.
5. May be made in advance up to the point of topping with cheese, and reheated in a 400-degree oven about 10 minutes.


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