Chiles en Nogada (Poblano Chile in Walnut Sauce)
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Credit: ACF Chef Alejandra Kauachi, Mexico Lindo Cooking School
National Culinary Review, 2023
From the Chef
“This dish is essentially a roasted and skinned poblano pepper stuffed with picadillo (chopped pork or ground beef cooked with tomatoes, dried fruits and nuts) with a creamy walnut-based sauce. “I like to use raisins, almonds, apples, peaches and sometimes plantain or banana,” says Chef Kauachi. “It’s a salty and sweet combination. The story goes that a nun created this dish in Puebla for the first president after the Independence War because the dish had all the colors of the flag.” The green of the poblano pepper combines with the light-colored walnut cream sauce (a blend of walnuts cooked with cream and a bit of sherry liqueur) and the red pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top. “It’s also a seasonal dish because pomegranate is most plentiful in September in Mexico,” Chef Kauachi says.”
For the pork and peppers:
12 ounces (340 g) pork tenderloin, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) 2/3 cup (165 ml) water
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons pork lard
8 large poblano chiles
For the picadillo:
2 tablespoons oil
1 slice white onion
1 garlic clove
1 pound (450 g) peaches, peeled pit removed and cut into small cubes (about 1 1/2 cups / 375 ml)
1 pound (450 g) apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes (about 1 1/2 cups/375 ml)
1 pound (450 g) pears, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes (about 1 3/4 cups 435 ml)
1 ripe plantain (about 9 ounces/ 225 g) peeled and cut into small cubes (about 2 cup/250 ml)
1/3 cup (85 ml) raisins
1/3 cup (85 ml) skinned and slivered almonds
6 ounces (180 g) tomatoes, broiled, pureed
3 tablespoons sugar
For the walnut sauce:
72 fresh walnuts, shelled, peeled, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk (raw if possible)
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
2/3 cup (165 ml) medium dry sherry/brandy
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the garnish:
1 cup (250 ml) pomegranate seeds
1/2 (125 ml) flat leaf parsley leaves
1. Simmer the pork tenderloin in water and salt until fork tender. Drain and fry in lard until slightly crisp. Set aside.
2. To make the walnut sauce, add all ingredients for the sauce to a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until service.
3. To make the picadillo, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucsent. Add the fruits, almond and raisins and sautee until browned slightly. Add tomato puree, sugar and salt and simmer briefly. Stir in cooked pork and set aside.
4. Broil poblanos until charred on both sides. Place peppers in a plastic bag for 10 minutes. Peel skins and discard. Gently slice each pepper lengthwise to remove the seeds and veins with the tip of the knife and discard. Rinse peppers with water.
5. Fill each peppers with the warm picadillo and close, securing with a toothpick if necessary. Place peppers on a large plate and spoon the cold sauce over all. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley.
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