5.9.10 Remembering June

Chile 790 xxx
My mother, June Chávez Silverman, was a fiery, high-spirited Chicana beauty with black eyes and a cackling laugh that was contagious. She loved to entertain and was a legendary hostess, especially during the years my father was provost of Stevenson College at UC Santa Cruz. I still have the black silk camellia she pinned on the low-cut neckline of her festive gowns. Exuding clouds of Youth Dew and always amazingly calm, she would oversee Ramos Fizzes and chicken enchiladas for a hundred. I still have the recipe card in her handwriting for this delicious Chile Relleno casserole. It's a great thing to make if you have leftover pot roast—though I'll cook one up just for this dish. Hatch green chiles (in a can) are easy to find if you're on the West Coast, and easier to find now on the East. This cheesy, addictive dish is definitely a crowd pleaser, but you can scale down the proportions and throw it together for your nearest and dearest. Mamá, this one's for you.

June's Chile Relleno Casserole

serves 8-10
  • — 3 cans fire-roasted whole green chiles (21 ozs)
  • — 1/2 pound sharp cheddar
  • — 1/2 pound Monterey jack
  • — 3 eggs
  • — 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • sea salt & pepper, to taste
  • — 1 13-ounce can evaporated milk
  • — 1 cup tomato sauce
  • — 1 cup enchilada sauce (as spicy as you like)
  • — 3 cups diced cooked beef (leftover chuck roast is perfect)
  • — 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • — 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • — 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • — 3/4 cup raisins
  • — 1 apple
  • — 1/2 cup beef stock

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook onion and garlic until lightly browned. Add cooked meat, pepitas, raisins, apple and beef stock and cook until softened and well melded. Set aside.

Combine enchilada sauce and tomato sauce in a bowl. Combine two cheeses in another bowl.

Split chiles and discard stems and seeds. Line a deep baking dish with a layer of chiles, then a layer of the beef mixture, then a layer of the cheeses. Continue until you use all ingredients, reserving enough cheese for a top layer.

Combine milk, eggs and flour, and season with salt and pepper. Beat until foamy and pour over everything. Bake until set, about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cover with combined tomato and enchilada sauces. Top with layer of grated cheeses. Return to oven and bake until bubbling and browned, another 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes before serving.

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I loved reading about your mother, June. I can't wait to make the chile relleno casserole!
Elaine on May 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm —
I love the description of your mom- she sounds gorgeous and amazing. This dish sounds delicious, too ;)
Winnie on May 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm —
your mother sounds like she was a fascinating woman. is the addition of raisins and apples her personal touch? am sure you have her lovely spirit. x shayma
shayma on May 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm —
Hmmm, odd, o quizás o: I have an uncannily similar imagreof Mom, same Youth Dew, hostess caftan, but she's serving those teensy cheese puffs and Fishhouse Punch! My Chile Relleno casserole recipe is from our Abuela Chávez. More folksy, less elaborate (kind of like she was, compared to Mom). But I think I'm going to give this one a whirl. Or, on second thought, ask someone else to: hoy es Dia de la Madre, after all!
Hambrienta on May 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm —
I've seen other versions of this recipe, but not with the apple, raisins and pepitas--though the latter two are often found in picadillo, so not totally out of left field.
laura on May 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm —
Oh, how I remember Mrs. Silverman. She was definitely a force of nature. My main goal was to stay out of the way. ;-) I can visualize the provost house as well as the one in town. Pretty sure there were some bright paper flowers - cutting edge back in the early 70's. Not surprisingly, your Mom had a lot of style.
Mily on May 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm —
So nice to see this tribute to Mom on her day. I have etched in my memory an image of her in a silver PAPER evening dress, something that was "in" when we still lived in Southern Califas in the mid-'60s. I am also conjuring that chile con queso fundido dip/fondue that she featured at festive gatherings for a certain period. Can't 4get those giant punchbowls of signature sangria, either! xoxoxo
Sari on May 9, 2010 at 7:44 pm —
I'm so glad you wrote about your mother. I was thinking about you both today--wondering how you might honor her. She turned out such a sparkling set of daughters. Imagine her dancing around the heavens celebrating all of your accomplishments. Happy Mother's Day. I love you.
Jennie on May 9, 2010 at 9:35 pm —
Love Love Love those espárragos blancos on the top of the screen. U know they are one of my fave veggies. Slathered w/homemade mayonesa (sorry, Gwynnie). Not the dweedly supposedly Peruvian ones readily available @ Trader Joe's or even in a grocery store. No. The plump, soft-ish, slightly vinegary ones we used to enJOY en Madrith. Love you.
Hambrienta on May 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm —