Chiles Anchos Rellenos de Queso (Cheese-Filled Ancho Chiles)

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

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Caldillo con crema:
1 pound Roma tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup crema Mexicana or sour cream
Kosher salt to taste

Chiles rellenos:
3 tablespoons grated piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar)
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh oregano, preferably Mexican
1 bay leaf
6 fresh ancho chiles
Kosher salt
1 pound Asadero or Jack cheese, grated or cut into cubes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Makes 6 servings

Make the caldillo con crema:
In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, onion, and garlic and blend until smooth. For a smooth sauce, push through a fine-mesh strainer if needed.

In a large skillet, over moderate heat, melt the butter. Add the tomato caldillo mixture and fry, stirring occasionally, until it changes color and reduces slightly. Just before serving, gently warm the crema Mexicana in a saucepan, then whisk in the tomato caldillo mixture, bring to a simmer, and season to taste with salt.

Make the chile rellenos:
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to a boil, along with the piloncillo, thyme, oregano, and bay leaf. Heat a comal or cast-iron skillet over low heat and dry-roast the chiles until just tender. Transfer to the boiling water, then turn off the heat and let the chiles soak for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water and using a small, sharp knife, make a lengthwise slit down one side of each. Carefully remove the seeds and, if possible, the skin. (The stem of the chile should remain attached, so if the skin is difficult to peel, leave it on.) Season the insides of the chiles with salt, then stuff with the cheese, dividing it equally.

In a large sauté pan, over moderately low heat, melt the butter. Add the chiles and cook, flipping gently, to melt the cheese. Spoon the caldillo con crema onto a platter or individual plates, top with the chiles, and serve immediately.