Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chiles en Nogada

It has been a long time since my last post, but I have found a new show that has inspired me to try some new dishes and crank out some new posts. The Food Network show is called "Mexican Made Easy", but I find the title to be a little misleading. The host, Marcela Valladolid, breezes through multiple dishes in 30 minutes, while it could take me a couple of hours to finish one of them even after procuring the ingredients.

Today's dish is Chiles en Nogada, Stuffed Poblano Chiles in Creamy Walnut Sauce.
The name comes from the Spanish word for the walnut tree, nogal. This famous dish is said to have been developed by the residents of Puebla to honor General Don Augustín de Iturbide at a celebratory banquet held in August 1821, after the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba. All of the dishes served at the banquet featured the colors of the Mexican flag (green chiles, white sauce, and red pomegranate seeds). Still a popular dish, chiles en nogada is often served in August when walnuts and pomegranates come into season.

The first part of this dish is the picadillo,
a mixture usually containing chopped or ground meat, aromatics, fruits, and spices.

Cook a diced onion and a few teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until translucent. Add a couple cloves of minced garlic and cook for a minute longer, until fragrant. Add a pound of ground pork, a pound of ground sirloin, a bay leaf, and a cinnamon stick and cook over medium heat until meat is cooked through, about 7 minutes.

Chop 1/2 cup of dried apples, 1/2 cup of dried apricots, and 3/4 cup of dried pineapple. Combine dried fruit with meat and remove from heat. Mix in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon along with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf and set aside.

For the walnut sauce, you are going to need to peel 4 cups of walnuts. This sounds a little intimidating, but really isn't that bad. In a cup of boiling water, add the walnuts and cook for 1 minute, then drain into a colander. After they have cooled, the walnut skins will mostly fall off. A paring knife can be used to remove the stubborn skins. Peeling the walnuts will make a smoother, whiter sauce. Unpeeled walnuts can be used, but the texture will be grainier and slightly bitter.

Combine the walnuts, 2 1/2 cups of Mexican crema, and 4 ounces of goat cheese in a blender and blend until smooth and silky. Sauce should coat the back of a spoon. Add a few more walnuts or crema to adjust thickness. Season with salt.

Next, char 10 poblano chiles on a gas stove top. Keep rotating until the entire chile is thoroughly blackened. I actually needed to get a little bit more of a char on mine to cook the flesh a little more. It was a sufficient amount to easily remove the blackened skin, but I thought that the meat was a little too crunchy.

Immediately after pulling from the stove top, put the chile into a plastic bag for 15 minutes allowing it to sweat a little loosening the skin. At this point, use a paper towel to pull the skin right off.

Cut a slit into each chile lengthwise and carefully cut out the seeds and veins. Leave the chile stem intact.

Spoon as much filling into each of the chiles as you can.

Finally, top the exposed filling with a couple of tablespoons of the walnut sauce. Top with some pomegranate seeds to resemble the colors of the Mexican flag.

1 comment:

  1. I love Mexican even though I live in Greece and I try to create Mexican dishes and visit Mexican restaurants as much as possible. This looks like a perfect appetizer.