Multicolor Ristra

The Quest for the Best Chile Relleno

Kelli Bergthold U.S.A. Leave a Comment

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By James Beck, reposted from

It started in the late 90’s as a casual attempt to find a really good chile relleno. It has since evolved into a quest that would be considered one crazy act away from obsession. I’m only trying to answer one simple question. Where is the best chile relleno in America?

Multicolor RistraChile Relleno literally means “stuffed chile”. It’s a Mexican dish that consists of a roasted fresh chile, stuffed with cheese or meat, battered, and served smothered in a variety of sauces. One of the factors that make this quest so daunting is the broad diversity in the preparation and ingredients involved.

Tex-Mex style was the most common version I had sampled over the years. Prepared with one or more Poblano or Anaheim chiles, stuffed with cheddar, queso, or Oaxacan cheese, battered in egg, and drenched in salsa rojo or verde. A combination that in the right balance would make even the most selective food critic set down their pen and paper to enjoy the flavor. Sampling these very similar versions over the years had become an exercise in redundancy. I needed an adventure in eating to gain perspective, but where would I find such a rarity? I had no clue that the answer might be found in New Mexico. It was February of this year when I decided to lead a video road trip to New Mexico. The goal of the road trip was to record the largest hot sauce event in the country, and look for spicy diversions along the way. The stop that would change the way I look at rellenos wasn’t even on the itinerary when we left Houston.

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