Pollo Relleno... Poblano Chile Stuffed Chicken with Pepper Jack Cheese and a Cornmeal Crust. I felt the need to add a savory dish amongst all the sweets I've been posting lately. Maybe it's not been so "lately"... but rather more like last year:). In any case, I hope you have all been doing well and enjoying the new year.
I thought to stop by for a bit to share a savory dish... to give us all a little break from all the sugar in the previous posts:).
So recently I ran across a written recipe I had stashed away in a drawer, in one of my notebooks. There I keep bits and pieces of paper with all sorts of written recipes... recipes that I have kept over the years. So while looking through the papers, I found a recipe that sounded so delicious and different, that I instantly knew I was going to make it. Kept wondering why I 'd never made it before... and it didn't take long before I did make it. And then, I made it again:)...
I went ahead and changed some things with the original recipe... like roasting my own chiles and adding my own seasonings rather than using canned chiles or using prepared taco seasoning . But if you are in a hurry, or if you want to simplify the recipe, opt to use canned whole chiles and add about 2-3 teaspoons taco seasoning to the cornmeal.
You know, we loved this variation to the usual stuffed chicken breasts. Just loved it! I'll admit, I wasn't exactly sure how the cornmeal crust would play out in the final taste, but it pleasantly surprised me. Sort of reminded me of the southern fried okra, or cornmeal battered catfish. I don't know what it was, but we loved the flavor of the pollo relleno... the overall flavor was mild enough and not overpowering in any herb or spice. Oh, and it's baked and not fried. Always, always a plus:).
What I really liked about this dish, is that you can make as many or as few chicken rolls as you need. You can even slice the roll and use it as an appetizer. It works wonderfully well with a red chile sauce or salsa of sorts. I love paring it with a simple oil and vinegar seasoned cabbage salad.... but you can serve it with other side dishes... macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes or spanish rice. All work well. Just click on the links above if you are interested in the cabbage salad or red chile sauce ... it will take you to the recipe directly without having to search through the recipe index:).
The nice part is that the rolls are gluten-free, so if you are looking for a dinner-party-sort-of dish to make for the gluten-intolerant guest, these chicken rolls work wonderfully well. And if you are on a search, looking for different ways to cook chicken breast, well, you may want to try this recipe. Different and definitely not boring:).
I must mention that the cornmeal should be of a fine grind, not coarse...don't want to have it taste too gritty:). The finer the cornmeal the better texture in the overall product. Also, of you really don't like the green poblano pepper taste, I don't see why you couldn't substitute it with a red roasted bell pepper. And if you don't like to use corn, opt for using some ground up almonds as an alternative. Of course, all theses changes would taste a bit different, but the idea is to make something you like:).
So here is another variation to the ever-so-popular chicken cordon bleu recipe I posted a few years back. Hope you enjoy...
Note: Can assemble rolls ahead a few hours... say, in the AM and bake later for dinner. Also, roasted chiles freeze well, so make extra for another day.
Tip: While rolling the chicken and battering it up in the egg and cornmeal can be a bit messy, the overall product sort of falls into place as it bakes.
Feel free to use a toothpick to hold the chicken roll in place before dipping in egg and cornmeal. Allowing the dipped rolls to rest in the fridge for an hour or so will firm up the chicken and minimize the cheese from oozing out too much.
Also, feel free to use a stick of cheese rather than a slice of cheese for easier rolling... but I personally like the cheese to be spread out a bit.
Tip 2: I have made these also with the addition of a thin slice of smoked turkey as well... along with the green chile and cheese. Went rather well...
You will need:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, (cut in 4 equal pieces)
salt and pepper to taste
Cornmeal crust seasoning:
1/3 cup cornmeal, fine grind
1 tsp ground onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp chipotle powder, can use smoked/regular paprika if needed
couple of pinches of kosher salt, or to taste
Roasted Poblano Chile:
2 whole poblano chiles, roasted, skinned, seeded and cut in half lengthwise (or you can use canned whole green chili peppers)
salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of olive oil
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
Roast Poblano Chile:
1. Wash poblano chiles and dry.
2. Place chiles in a broiler pan and broil until skin is blackened and blistered.
3. Turn over and do the same to the second side of the chile. I usually do this in my toaster oven for about 10-15 minutes on each side. Time is approximate, just check to see when poblanos are blistering and getting that dark skin.
4. Allow roasted poblanos to cool, then peel and take out seeds along with the core. Season lightly with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Cut in half lengthwise and set aside.
5. Cut each chicken breast half in 2 equal pieces lengthwise...you should have a total of 4 thin chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Place each thin chicken breast half between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Or you can place chicken breast inside a large ziploc bag.
7. Pound chicken lightly into a rough rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.... being careful not to pound too hard so as too tear the chicken. Remove plastic wrap.
8. In a bowl combine cornmeal and seasonings. Mix to combine. If your cornmeal is a bit coarse, opt to run it through a blender to make it finer.... what I ended up doing.
9. Place egg in another bowl; beat lightly.
10. Assemble chicken rolls: Place a chili pepper half on pounded chicken piece. Place a slice of cheese atop chili pepper. You can also use a cheese stick if you prefer and place it near an edge. Fold in sides and roll up jelly-roll style....and secure with toothpicks as needed. Now, I didn't fold my sides and therefore had a bit of the cheese ooze out. This is normal.
11. Dip rolls into egg and coat with cornmeal mixture.
12. Place rolls, seam sides down, on a baking sheet pan.... I like to place them in the fridge to firm up before baking... for an hour or so.
13. Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. I love baking the rolls in my toaster oven. Some of the cheese will ooze out, but I like to allow the cheese to firm up a bit as the rolls cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet... I then stuff the cheese back in the sides:). You can use a cheese that doesn't melt so easily... a hard cheddar.
Note: Now, I like to make these rolls in advance and place them in the fridge to firm up before baking... baking time might increase a bit. But I rather like the ability to prepare them in advance.