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I love a good, authentic chile relleno as much as anyone, but as Nick over at The Paupered Chef learned, they can be very time- and labor-intensive. But when a craving hits and you just happen to have some chile-braised pork left over, you can bang out a reasonable facsimile pretty easily on a weeknight.

chiles, charred and steaming

For my simplified version, I charred my peppers over a gas flame and placed them in a plastic bag to steam, then warmed up my shreddy pork in a small sauté pan. For the sauce, I roasted some halved plum tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves, sprinkled with salt and drizzled with a little olive oil, in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, plucking the shriveled tomato skins off when they were cool enough to touch. In the same pan which I used to re-heat the pork (don’t wipe it out – you want to use the tasty pork fat that remains in the pan), I toasted some cumin, freshly grated canela and dried Mexican oregano, then added the tomatoes and garlic, smashing them against the bottom of the pan.

roasted tomatoes and garlic

I whipped up an egg batter like the one Nick used, dipping my pork-stuffed chiles into flour before battering them and frying them in a mixture of rendered fatback and canola (I did a shallow fry in our iron skillet), turning them once and removing them to a paper towel-lined plate as they finished cooking. I pressed my chunky tomato sauce through a fine mesh strainer, spooned some onto our plates, added the chiles, some grated cheese, and served them with a side of creamy black beans.

Dinner:  September 1, 2009

I’m sure these lacked the complexity and depth of flavor of chiles stuffed with a proper picadillo, but this was a great way to use up leftover pork and satisfy my hunger for this favorite dish.

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