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Planet Barbecue

Chiles Rellenos Hit the Grill

Warning to all you carnivores out there. The following blog and recipe are vegetarian. But I promise you won’t miss the meat.

Raichlen’s rule holds that if something tastes good boiled, baked, sauteed, or fried, it surely tastes better grilled.

Case in point: chiles rellenos.

This traditional Oaxacan dish—poblano chiles stuffed with cheese (and sometimes ground beef) and deep-fried in egg batter—puts 450 calories on your waistline and 37 grams of fat into your arteries. And that’s per chile! Which makes this the sort of dish you indulge in from time to time, but not the stuff of a sustainable diet.

Now, I fry with the best of them, but on a daily basis, when I can I try to eliminate excess fat from my diet. One of my favorite strategies to achieve this is to smoke-roast on the grill. Another is to replace part of the cheese with pinto beans, which has the added advantage of boosting fiber and protein.

There’s a third benefit: my grilled chiles rellenos taste cleaner than the traditional version—the bright flavors of cumin and cilantro, of walnuts and raisins unobscured by a film of fat. So here are grilled chiles rellenos you can eat once a week. They’re so good, you may just want to.

The traditional chile for stuffing is the poblano, an aromatic dark green-skinned capsicum with more bite than conventional bell peppers. You can also use elongated Anaheim or fiery Hatch chiles.

You can even vary the ethnic profile by changing the spicing and beans. For a North African version, for example, use chick peas spiced up with coriander, turmeric, and paprika. For a French version, substitute flageolets and goat cheese.

Whatever the filling, you can call this barbecue health food. Your vegetarianfriends will love you, and hard core carnivores will appreciate it, too.

Find the recipe here.