This blog entry is being contributed by my dear friend, Barbara Zaugg, with whom I love to cook.Â She will be teaching me how to make CHILES EN NOGADA this year.Â In past years she has cooked these for us.Â This dish is unique to Mexico.
Mexico just celebrated their bicentennial of INDEPENDENCE.
All the festivities were wonderful and the entire country was not only united for these celebrations, but most of the people had at least one meal with the traditional CHILES EN NOGADA
It is said that this wonderful plate was first elaborated in 1821, year of the consummation of Mexicoâ€™s Independence, when General Iturbide who signed the independence documents was in Puebla (on his way to Veracruz) and he wanted to celebrate this wonderful occasion with a special meal.
The recipe is said to have been concocted by the Catholic nunsÂ from the Convent of Santa Monica in Puebla and Â from the grateful people of that beautiful city, who were giving a banquet in honor of Don Agustin de Iturbide’s saint’s day, August 28 in 1821. He and his followersÂ led the final revolt against Spanish domination; as self-proclaimed emperor he had just signed the Treaty of Cordoba. All the dishes at the banquet were concocted of ingredients of the color of the Mexican flag; in this dish were the green chilies, the white sauce, and the red pomegranate seeds.
To make this dish they took advantage of the vegetables of that region in September, at the end of the rainy season when the walnuts are harvested, and there were plenty of apples, peaches and pears.
This dish is very involved, but the effort is worth it. It really is an extraordinary blend of flavors.
Chiles en Nogada (Chilies in Walnut Sauce) Recipe
You must start this dish one day ahead by soaking the walnuts for the nogada sauce overnight.
2 lbs of ground pork ( or 1 of pork and 1 beef)
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp salt, or to taste
6 Tbsp of lard or the fat from the broth
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
A molcajete (mortar and pestle)
5 whole cloves
1/2 inch stick cinnamon
3 heaping Tbsp of raisins
2 Tbsp blanched and slivered almonds and 1 T pine nuts
2 heaping Tbsp acitron or candied fruit, chopped
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 pear, cored, peeled and chopped
1 peach, pitted, peeled and chopped
1 Put the ground pork into the pan with the onion, garlic, and salt and sautÃ© until cooked.
2 Drain the extra fat if needed
3 Melt the lard and cook the onion and garlic, without browning, until they are soft.
4 Add the meat
5 Crush the spices roughly in the molcajete and add them, with the rest of the ingredients to the meat mixture. (If you don’t have a molcajete, you can use the blunt end of a pestle to crush the spices in a bowl.) Cook the mixture a few moments longer.
6 Add chopped peach and pear to the mixture.
7 poblano chiles (you MUST use this type of chile)
8 Put the poblano chiles straight into a fairly high flame or under a broiler and let the skin blister and burn. Turn the chiles from time to time so they do not get overcooked or burn right through.
9 Wrap the chiles in a damp cloth or plastic bag and leave them for about 20 minutes. The burned skin will then flake off very easily and the flesh will become a little more cooked in the steam. 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. (If the chilies are too hot – picante, let them soak in a mild vinegar and water solution for about 30 minutes.) Rinse the chilies and pat them dry.
10 Stuff the chilies with the picadillo until they are well filled out. Set them aside ( this can be done a day ahead and then reheat these in a 325 oven)
The Nogada (walnut sauce)
The day before:
20 to 30 fresh walnuts ( here in USA you can use dries Walnuts- nit the same but I still have not been able to get fresh ones here), shelled cold milk
11 Remove the thin papery skin from the nuts. This can take 2 hours- but the trick is that the sauce should be white.
On serving day:
The soaked and drained nuts
1 small piece white bread without crust
1/4 lb cream cheese
Â¼ cup of goat cheese
1 1/2 cups thick sour creme (or creme fraiche)
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
Â½ cup half and half
Â¼ cup of Sherry (dry)
Large pinch of cinnamon
12 Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor until they are smooth (NOT thin)`
To Serveâ€“To assemble the dish, cover the warm chilies in the nogada sauce (room temperature) and sprinkle with fresh parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds.
Serve with White rice.