Pollo Relleno Appetizer/Entrée
Because of its lean character chicken breast can use help to boost the flavor. This simple recipe does that by stuffing breast cutlets and serving it with a unique sauce. The dish has great presentation and can be prepared a day ahead.
As for the sauce, it’s unique because it’s made from the liquid created from soaking the chile pods and toasting and grinding the chile seeds. It’s a very sustainable use of a food product. I found one recipe that uses the seeds and chile liquor for making a complex tasting sauce (Shelly Wiseman, Gormet, October, 2005). I adapted this recipe for the sauce. Let’s get started.
4 chile pods of california or quajillo dry peppers
1 cup chile soaking liquid
1 tablespoon chile pod seeds saved from chiles
Electric coffee/spice grinder
1 lb chicken breast cutlets
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano, cilantro or parsley,
3 tablespoons grated cotija cheese (or parmigiana)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut a slit down one side of the chile pod and remove and save the seeds. Discard the stem. Rinse chiles, then cover with cold water in a bowl. Soak the chiles for several hours or until the pods are completely soft, turning them during the soak period. Do not drain chiles; save 1 cup of the liquid from the soaked chiles.
Spread the seeds evenly in a shallow pan and toast the seeds over low medium heat. Stir occasionally until fragrant and a few shades darker, 4-6 minutes. Cool seeds, then finely grind in grinder (you should have about 1 tablespoon).
If necessary, use a meat tenderizer mallet to flatten the chicken cutlets ¼ inch thick or less. Lay the pieces of meat out on a board and season with salt and pepper. Lay single sheets of chile evenly on top of the cutlet. In a mixing bowl, combine the cheese and oregano. Divide the mixture evenly on the chile strips, spreading to form a layer on top of each piece. Roll up each piece like a jelly roll and tie securely with butcher twine.
In a 12-14 inch skillet, heat the oil until it begins smoking. Place a few rolls at a time in the skillet and brown evenly, rolling with tongs or a wooden spoon. Transfer to a plate and repeat with any remaining rolls. Pour off the cooking oil. Return the skillet to the heat and add the soaking liquid, stirring the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen the brown bits. Add the tomato sauce and ground seeds and bring to simmer. Add the cutlets and simmer uncovered rotating rolls occasionally until the cutlet rolls are cooked (3-4 minutes)
This dish may be served as an entrée or appetizer. Accompany with sauce.
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