Some say that in the Fall, Bob Ross blesses the forests of the Rockies. His spirit moves among the mountains in cool, evening whispers, visiting with the trees. Their leaves turn bright colors, blushing from his treasured visit.
Have a recipe for a chile relleno egg and cheese casserole, compadres.
Saturday. I was riding the bus near Colfax and Federal when I saw a bunch of people hanging out in a parking lot around a large metal cage rotating horizontally on a spigot. “Oh, my god,” I thought…
But before I could finish, a gentleman sitting behind me quite loudly, yelled, “Hatch chiles? Oh fuck yeah!” He pulled the cord, and skittered off the bus towards the promised land. Leaving me just nodding, smiling in understanding. That gentleman is a hero. He did what we all felt.
I made my own way to the chile party after getting my rental car. This was my moment to grab a bag delicious, roasted green New Mexico chiles, and more importantly, to smell them.
Look, you can roast chiles with a broiler and some tin foil in your oven, and charring hatch chiles gives off this indescribable buttery, umami smell that any home should experience, but standing in line with a Mexican Coke and bunch of other people in a parking lot paying cash only to a man under a pop up tent is part of the performative social culture of the region. Who can say no to authenticity? Plus, it reminds me of home- this is a Southwestern tradition, one that our sisters and brothers in the Hatch Valley blessedly make possible for us all.
And, now, dear readers, I share with you this recipe which is a very close approximation of one I’ve often used to make for weekend breakfasts, so it’s tested for sure. You can make this any time of year: Poblano and even Anaheim peppers work very well too. May your face enjoy it.
Chile Relleno Breakfast Casserole
Recipe adapted from John Lewis and Ray England, Juan Luis, Charleston, SC
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes cooling time
1. Preheat the broiler to high and line a sheet pan with foil. Line the chiles next to each other on the pan and broil, turning as needed, until the chiles are well charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let steam for 15 minutes, then peel and deseed the poblanos using the back of a knife.
2. Lower the oven temperature to 300°. In a blender, combine the half-and-half, flour, salt, eggs and garlic. Blend on medium until smooth.
3. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and line with a quarter of the roast poblanos, followed by a quarter of the grated cheese. Continue this layering process until all the chiles and cheese have been used. Pour the egg mixture in to cover the chiles and cheese.
4. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with enough boiling water to come up halfway along the sides of the baking dish. Bake until the eggs begin to set, 30 minutes, then raise the temperature to 400° and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggs are fully cooked and the top is golden brown.
5. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, then slice and serve.
Guys, no matter where you live, when it’s a nice day outside and you’re physically able, make sure to go out and enjoy it, at least a little.
Take a walk in the park, take a drive around nowhere, go sit on a bench and listen to the leaves and the birds. And maybe if you’re feeling especially happy, you’ll laugh. And wouldn’t that be something, if your laugh were the leaves’ and birds’ favorite sound in all the world? I bet they like to listen to you too.
Have a wonderful Saturday. Be kind- For all our sake.*
Also Winter’s coming.
*You can singularize or pluralize the noun in this case. I choose singular. In an ironic twist, my reasons for going with the singular option are plural.