Just as Texans have adapted many of Mexico’s popular dishes, it seems only natural to borrow from Spain as well. Tapas make after-work gatherings and pre-dinner drinks even more enjoyable. In fact, every get-together should kick off with this little bite-size ritual. In the next few blog postings, I’ll provide a few favorites so you’ll always have ideas for a “small plate” filled with “great flavor” ready for your guests.
Traditionally, tapas can be almost any type of food. Few ingredients, other than seasonal and regional offerings, are specific to this socializing ritual. That provides plenty of leeway in creating new avenues for presenting tapas. For this set, I’ve taken chiles rellenos down to antojito sizes. Two different fillings provide choices for individual palates. There’s plenty of color, fire and flavor to pass around!
Think of the wonderfully smoky taste of chipotle peppers blended with sweet potato. Or an asadero infused mashed potato mixture sporting pimientos and cilantro. From wild to mild, peppers for this recipe include jalapenos, Fresno peppers, and sweet yellow peppers. All are relatively the same size, with the reds and yellows having slightly thinner skins than jalapenos. The skins remain on to provide a firmer bite and, when the fillings are added, they’ll bake for about 15 minutes, then broil until the tops are browned. Prepare everything ahead of time, re-heat the mixtures, and they’re ready to pop in the oven.
Baked Chiles Rellenos
Yellow sweet peppers
Note: One medium potato (sweet or baking) will fill approximately six peppers (12 halves).
Mashed Potato Filling
1 medium baking potato
2 slices asadero cheese
3 heaping teaspoons cream cheese
1 cilantro stalk
2 teaspoons pimientos
–Cube potatoes and place in pot of boiling water. When done, drain and place in bowl.
–Mash potatoes with fork.
–Blend in Asadero and cream cheese.
–Finely chop cilantro leaves and add to mixture.
–Drain pimientos, chop, and add to mixture.
Sweet Potato Filling
1 medium-large sweet potato
1 tablespoon butter
1 large chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (canned)
–With a fork, prick sweet potato, microwave until soft, remove skin, and mash in a bowl.
–Blend in butter until smooth.
–Remove seeds from chipotle, chop and fold into mixture, using a small amount of the adobo sauce for added smoky flavor.
–Slice off pepper stems and halve lengthwise.
–Scoop out seeds and membranes with a spoon.
–Fill with mixture (heaping) and place on ungreased baking sheet; group peppers closely to keep them upright.
–Heat oven to 350ºF, bake for about 15 minutes, then broil until tops are browned.
With any pepper, you may find some degree of heat – or not. Even jalapenos will tone down considerably with de-seeding, de-membraning and baking. Use gloves when handling peppers.
Chipotle peppers also carry some heat. Use more or less of these in the sweet potato mixture. A lot of the heat is in the seeds.
To taste, add garlic, salt and pepper to mixtures if desired. For mashed potatoes, white pepper will be more attractive, but ground black pepper works well.
Use a pastry bag to get a neater filling.