Chiles en Nogada (Stuffed Poblano Peppers with a Walnut Sauce)October 20, 2014
In an attempt to recreate European foods, colonial cooks in Mexico developed a highly innovative culinary repertoire. Forced to use native ingredients such as chiles and low-status European ones like pork fat, they improvised dishes that were both delicious and distinct from those eaten in Spain. The perfect marriage of both cuisines, the dish represents the colors of the Mexican flag. It happens to be one of Diego Rivera’s favorite dishes and one that Frida Kahlo often prepared.
This dish is laborious but I promise the end result is worth the work. It could be one of the most delicious and beautiful dishes EVER.
For the peppers:
6 poblano peppers
½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1 – 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup mixed dried fruit, diced (I like to use dried apples, dates and apricots)
½ cup toasted almonds or pine nuts, or a combination of both
handful of parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
seeds of one pomegranate
For the walnut sauce:
10 ounces queso fresco
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup sugar
2 cups milk
Roast the peppers directly over an open flame, turning regularly until the skin has blistered and blackened on all sides. Place in a plastic bag and let sweat for 3 to 5 minutes. Rub off the blackened skin, and then cut an incision in the side of each one, starting ½-inch below the stem end and continuing to within ½-inch of the tip. Dislodge all seeds clustered below the stem with your finger. Rinse off any stray seeds and bits of skin, being careful not to rip or the opening any wider.
Prepare the stuffing by heating about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the nuts and fruit and stir. Add meat and cook, draining off any excess fat. Season with salt and pepper. When the meat is close to being done, stir in the tomato sauce. Add parsley, taste and adjust seasoning.
While the meat is cooking, place all of the ingredients for the walnut sauce in a blender and blend until smooth.
Stuff the peppers with ¼ to ½ cup of the filling (depending on their size). When ready to serve, pour the walnut sauce over the warm peppers and garnish with pomegranate seeds.