It’s THAT time of year again… during August and in September, Mexicans savor one of the country’s most famous dishes: Chiles en Nogada (Chilies in Walnut Sauce.)
The recipe comes from the state of Puebla, and is tied to the independence of the country since it is said they were prepared for the first time to honor the Emperor Agustin de Iturbide when he was crowned Agustín I.
Some Mexican historians believe the inventors of this dish were the Poor Claire nuns and others think they were the Contemplative Augustines of the Convent of Santa Monica in Puebla.
I’m making this dish tomorrow… and my family can’t wait!
The Picadillo (Meat filling)
Saute 1 kilo of ground pork with:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Add salt and pepper to taste
When the meat is cooked, use a small molcajete (mortar and pestle) or coffee grinder to pulverize:
5 whole cloves
1/2 inch stick cinnamon
Add the ground spices to the meat mixture with:
2 heaping Tbsp blanched and slivered almonds
2 heaping Tbsp dried citrus fruit peel and salt to taste
Cut in tiny pieces:
1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes,
2 pears, cored, peeled and chopped
2 peaches, pitted, peeled and chopped
Add whole: 100 grams of raisins
Mix everything together
Put 8 chiles poblanos (and you MUST use this type of chili) straight into a fairly high flame or under a broiler and let the skin blister and burn. Turn the chilies from time to time so they do not get overcooked or burn right through. Wrap the chilies in a plastic bag and leave them for about 20 minutes. (they will sweat and the skin will be easier to remove) Make a slit in the side of each chili and carefully remove the seeds and veins. Be careful to leave the top of the chili (the part around the base of the stem) intact. Rinse the chilies and pat them dry.
Stuff the chilies with the picadillo until they are well filled out. Set them aside on paper towels then put them in the fridge to chill (If you wish, they can be refrigerated until the next day)
The Nogada (walnut sauce)
The day before you plan on eating the chilies, soak 2 cups of walnuts overnight in cold milk
On serving day:
Drain and pulverize the nuts, then blend them with:
1 small piece white bread without crust
1/4 lb queso fresco
1 1/2 cups cream
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
Large pinch of cinnamon
When the sauce is smooth, refrigerate it until it is cold.
Set the chilies on a plate and drizzle them with the walnut sauce. Then, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds.
You can accompany this dish with guacamole, rice and tortillas.
Note: Although the original recipe calls for walnuts, I often substitute pecans. The difference in flavor is there but barely.