I absolutely love finding a new recipe to try…but I love it even more when I get the urge to try it out a.s.a.p.! I usually save recipes ‘for that special day’, but when I saw this amazing video of how the Mexican favorite chiles en nogada were made, I knew I had to try them! Kiwilimón is my go-to guide for authentic Mexican recipes. Granted the website is entirely in Spanish (sorry, guys!), it provides an ample collection of recipes, tips, and everything-Mexican pertaining to the kitchen! Highly recommended! This particular & very interesting dish is popular this time of the year, when pomegranates appear in the markets of Central Mexico and the national independence festivities begin, so what better time to try them out, right?
A little background on the dish is necessary, because I’m sure it’s like nothing you’ve ever had before! It’s traditionally served at room temperature with a cold cream sauce, and the list of ingredients is so vast & intense that your palate will be completely blown! The name itself comes from the Spanish word for the walnut tree, nogal. It consists of poblano peppers (I actually used a local red variety!) filled with the much beloved picadillo – made with ground beef, tomatoes, fruit, spices, & many other ingredients that vary by region. The batter-fried peppers are then topped with a walnut-based cream sauce, called nogada, and pomegranate seeds & fresh cilantro, giving it the three colors of the Mexican flag.
The traditional chile en nogada is from Puebla and is tied to Mexico’s independence since it’s said they were prepared for the first time to entertain the army’s general, Agustín de Iturbide, when he came to the city after his naming as Emperor Agustín the I. The dish is a great source of pride for the inhabitants of the state of Puebla. The picadillo filling usually contains apple, pear, & peach, along with raisins & spices that make the meat particularly sweet! The sweetness of this picadillo filling is contrasted delightfully with the walnut cream sauce, which has it’s own peculiar taste as well. But I want you to try this magnificent Mexican cuisine staple for yourself…as we took our first bite, we were transported to the land of mariachis & Corona’s, taken way beyond the tacos & enchiladas in a more sophisticated & sensational palate adventure.
For the Picadillo
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 500g of ground meat, beef & pork
- 5 small tomatoes, puréed
- 6 tablespoons of sliced almonds
- 6 tablespoons of raisins
- 1 plantain, diced and fried
- 6 tablespoons of pinenuts
- 1 tablespoon of ground oregano
- 1 tablespoon of thyme
- 5 cloves
- 1-1/3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1-1/3 teaspoons of salt
- 1 medium-sized peach or nectarine, peeled & diced
- 1 pear, peeled & diced
- 1 apple, peeled & diced
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and sautée the garlic, onion, and ground meat until somewhat brown. Add the tomato purée, the almonds, raisins, diced fried plantain, and pinenuts. Season with oregano, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, ground black pepper, & salt. Combine well until even. Peel & dice the fruit evenly. Add the peach, pear, & apple to the mix. Cook until liquids evaporate. Set aside to cool down for filling.
For the Walnut Cream Sauce
- 2 cups of walnuts
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 100g of goat cheese
This is probably the easiest sauce EVER, and amazingly one of the most complex ones I have tried. Just put all the ingredients – at room temperature – into the blender and voilà! The consistency should be thick enough to coat the peppers evenly & beautifully!
For the Chiles en Nogada
- 4 poblano peppers, grilled, peeled, and seeds removed
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 2-2/3 tablespoons of flour
- 1 cup of chopped parsley
- 1 large pomegranate
Prepare the peppers by grilling them, charring them, peeling them, and cleaning them out. A more detailed explanation of how to get this done can be found here. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy & silky. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating well. Add the flour & salt. Fill the peppers with the picadillo mix, and carefully roll around in flour. Dip in the egg mixture and cover entirely and fry in vegetable oil until light golden brown. Set aside on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
Set one pepper on each dish – one will do the trick for a hungry guest! – and bathe with the nogada. Decorate with the chopped parsley and the pomegranate. Serve immediately, and remember, the sauce is at room temperature, which will seem rather cold to some of us used to having their meals piping hot! It’s part of the experience! Órale, órale!