Tlales, also known as chales, talitos, or biuses, are the dregs of the chicharron pot. They are occasionally sold in a commercial context by professional chicharron producers, but even still, these pork crumbles are exceptionally rare, even for Mexican-centric cities like Los Angeles.
The crispy corners of skin and meaty bits of pork settle on the bottom of the pot when someone is cooking large vats of carnitas or frying sheets of chicharrones. What might seem like undesirable detritus are actually secret umami-bombs — rich, golden fragments that are often ground into a coarse powder by apt Mexican cooks.
Once given a pulse in a spice grinder or food processor, the pebbly crumbs can be sprinkled over refried beans, tucked into tacos, or even worked into masa for tamales. It’s a perfect example of using humble leftovers to maximize flavor; this is what makes Mexican cuisine so captivating. Applications elsewhere are endless: David Chang could slide tlales into steamed buns and rake in millions.
At Reyes Deli & Grocery (532 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-369-3211), they’re just $6.50 a quart.
Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer, covering the city’s best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes the ¡Oye! Comida column for Fork in the Road.