Saturday, June 19, 2010
Pork-Stuffed Chiles in Savory Tomato Sauce (Chiles Rellenos de Picadillo)
There is salsa, meat, batter...all kinds of fun things to mess with but it takes time.
I devoted an afternoon to the experience and while totally worth it, this dish is not exactly something you "whip up" after getting home from work at 6pm. This is from Rick Bayless' old-school book, Authentic Mexican, which reads more like an anthropology textbook than a standard recipe collection. For good reason.
When he published this, in the nostalgic years of the late 80s, he had just made the career swap of a lifetime: anthropology student turned master chef.
Hey, Mexico can do that to you. Trust me.
I decided to make these the *comparatively* healthy way by pan frying them rather than deep frying them. It yields a different consistency from what many people are familiar with but it tastes just as good and you can feel moderately better about just how many of these you'll find yourself eating.
I served the rellenos with stuffed tomatoes. In my mind, one stuffed vegetable really deserves another, don't you agree?
To the recipe!
Yield: 8 stuffed chiles, 4 servings
Time: Oodles and oodles and oodles and oodles...
8 large fresh chiles poblanos
2 cups (1 recipe) Quick-Cooked Tomato Chile Sauce (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups beef or pork broth
1/2 cup flour plus 2 tablespoons for the eggs
3 cups (1 recipe) Minced-Pork Picadillo (recipe follows), at room temperature
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
4 sprigs parsley, for garnish
1. Cleaning the Chiles- Roast and peel the chiles (either roast them over a gas hob or stick them under the broiler until black and crisp), being careful not to overcook them or break off their stems. Seed them: make a slit in the side of each one, from the shoulder down nearly to the point; with an index finger, scrape the seeds loose from the seed pods (just underneath the stem); under a gentle stream of water, flush the chiles clean of al their seeds, then drain. If you want milder chiles, carefully cut out the veins that run down the inside flesh of each one. Dry the chiles inside and out with paper towels.
2. In a small saucepan mix the prepared tomato sauce (see recipe below) with the broth (adding 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and black pepper). Cover and place over very low heat.
Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chile Sauce
3 medium-large round ripe tomatoes (roasted in the over until skins are wrinkled and easy to come off), peeled and cored OR one 28-ounce can good-quality tomatoes, drained
**NOTE: If you are making this with the pork stuffing, you can roast all the tomatoes at the same time, see below for pork recipe**
2-3 jalapenos, stemmed
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 large garlic clive, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
For a more refined sauce, seed the tomatoes: Cut them in half across the middle and squeeze out the seeds and liquid. Roughly chop the tomatoes and placed n a blender or food processor.
If you want a milder sauce, first seed the chiles. Then chop them into small bits and add to the blender or processor, along with onion and garlic. If using a blender, stir to distribute the ingredients evenly, then process the mixture until pureed. (but still retaining a little texture)
Frying the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium-large skilled over medium-high. When it is hot enough to make a drop of the puree really sizzle, add it all at once and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, as the puree sears and cooks into a thicker, more orange-colored sauce. Season with salt and remove from fire.
3. Stuff the chiles with the pork mixture (see recipe below), leaving room to reclose the opening. If a chile won't reform around the filling or if it is torn, "sew" it together with toothpicks, any that can be gently picked up by the stem without losing their filling are fine as is.
Minced Pork with Almonds, Cranberries and Sweet Spices (Picadillo Oaxaqueno)
3 medium ripe tomatoes (roasted, cored, peeled, and roughly chopped **see above for details on roasting tomatoes) OR 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 lbs. lean coarse-ground pork
3/4 teaspoons ground black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup dried cranberries
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup ground almonds
Salt, about 1 teaspoon
For a picadillo using peeled fresh tomatoes, place them in a blender or food processor with 1/3 cup water, then process until smooth. Using canned tomatoes, simply puree them with their liquid.
Heat the oil in a large skilled over medium. When hot, add the onion and cook until sofe, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the pork in a thin layer and fry, stirring frequently, until cooked and lightly brown.
Add the spices to the skilled along with tomato puree, cranberries, almonds, and vinegar. Simmer until reduced to a thick, homogeneous mass, 30-45 minutes, depending on juiciness of the tomatoes. Season with salt.
4. Spread about 1/4 cup flour onto a plate, then roll the chiles in it, and shake off the excess.
5. Separate the eggs: whites into a clean mixing bowl, yolks into a small dish. Add the salt to the egg whites, then beat with a whisk or electric mixer until they are just stiff enough to hold a peak. Gently beat in the yolks one at a time, followed by 2 tablespoons of flour, stop beating when flour is incorporated.
7. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven. Batter and fry the remaining chiles and keep with the others.
8. Ladle about 3/4 cup of brothy tomato sauce into each of the 4 warm plates, top with 2 chiles then spoon more sauce onto each chile for decoration. Garnish with parsley and you're done. Finally!