The year 2021 was a trying one for my family, culminating in the loss of my mother in early December due to a variety of health reasons. I’ve been thinking about writing a post in honor of my mother since then, but how to decide which recipe? The lima bean stew with ham hocks that we ate almost every week when we were kids? Nope. The only way I could stand it was to douse it with ketchup. Her beef stew with dumplings? A family favorite, but there are a lot of stew recipes out there.
My mother absolutely loved Mexican food, something I seem to have inherited from her; however, Mom was not a big fan of spending hours in the kitchen. So, if there was an easy way to create a dish that would normally involve a whole lot of work, she was on it, and Chile Rellenos casserole was one of her favorites.
If you asked me what my favorite Mexican dish is I would answer Chile Rellenos in about a half a second. Fresh Anaheim chiles, stuffed with all the cheese, battered and deep fried until crispy. Yum! At this stage in my life, however, consuming boats of deep fried anything is probably not the healthiest choice. This casserole contains the chiles and the cheesy goodness without the deep frying. Now that’s what I call a win.
My mother had an unquenchable zest for life that I try very hard to emulate. Her life can best be summarized by her favorite saying she kept posted in the kitchen: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, Wow, what a ride!!!” She certainly accomplished that goal. This one is for you, Mom…
Chile Rellenos Casserole
A delicious, filling casserole that captures all the flavors of chile rellenos without the frying. You have a choice of pans to prepare this in. I used a well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet, but an 8-inch square or 6×10-inch baking pan will also work.
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt, divided
black pepper, to taste
Two 4-ounce cans whole green chiles or 8 oz frozen Hatch green chiles, thawed
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the beef and onion in a skillet, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper and cook on medium heat until the beef is cooked and begins to brown. Set aside, or, if using the same skillet for the casserole, place the beef mixture in a bowl.
Halve the chiles crosswise, spread out flat, and remove the seeds. Place half of the chile pieces in the baking dish or the skillet you will be using. Sprinkle with the cheese, then top with the meat mixture. Arrange the remaining chile pieces over the meat.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then whisk in the milk, flour, remaining salt, hot sauce and pepper. Pour the mixture over the chiles. Bake the casserole 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before serving.