Chiles en Nogada
It's that season for again. Time for Chiles en Nogada as seasonal favorite using green or just ripe walnuts. Here's a great little You Tube video showing how they're made. It is in Spanish, but is pretty self explanatory.
Don't forget, Chiles en Nogada are traditionally served at room temperature, not hot and not cold.
IMO all year is Chile en Nogada season!
That is, as long as you have pomegranate arils in the freezer :-).
Walnuts, never a problem unless you are a masochist and crack them yourselves. I can relate - growing up our house was built in a former walnut orchard. Eventually the walnut output declined and the squirrels got everything left. Fortunately Blue Diamond and TJ's have us covered.
Speaking of TJ's, their excellent dried fruit selection has been inspirational since they opened almost 30 years ago.
Keeping a sharp eye out for the pomegranates .......
re: c oliver
Saw frozen pomegranate at TJ's yesterday. Another tip for this fabulous dish -- Pati Jinich, chef of the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington D.C., recommends substituting pecans for walnuts unless you can get absolutely fresh ripe walnuts. I plan on doing that with my next batch.
I can't recall seeing packages of arils - only whole fruit. Costco also has pure pomegranate juice but that's another recipe :-). I usually get pomegranates at non-chain markets where they aren't so dearly priced.
According to the Chow ref page http://www.chow.com/ingredients/21 we should start seeing them real soon ....
My all time favorite Mexican dish!!! I love surprising clients with this dish because it's not what most Americans think of when they think "Mexican food", and it's a really tasty and different "chilli rellano".
To two pounds of Picadillo, my recipe adds the following to make the filling for 6 large Poblanos:
6 Tbsp of lard or the fat from the broth
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
5 whole cloves
1/2 inch stick cinnamon
3 heaping Tbsp of raisins
2 Tbsp blanched and slivered almonds
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
Here's what I've got for the walnut cream sauce:
2 c. walnut halves and pieces
1 to 1½ c. milk
1 slice white bread, crust removed
1 T. sugar
½ t. salt, perhaps a bit more but salt to taste
1 t. sherry
¼ t. cinnamon, or canela
½ c. heavy/whipping cream or Mexican crema
Place all ingredients except milk and cream into food processor bowl, and pulse till chopped. Add milk gradually (you may not use it all) and puree till mixture becomes a thick sauce. Add the cream or crema and pulse till combined. Adjust salt and sugar to taste.
This recipe uses a pork shoulder/raisin/dried mango/fresh apple-peach-pear filling (obviously depending on the season) for the poblanos, but another favorite version uses brown rice and the same fruits to make the dish meatless. I always garnish with pomegranate seeds (I guess that means I usually make this in the winter), but I suppose any fruit or dried fruit garnish would work. Just got a craving for this dish all over again.
Okay Veggo, here's the recipe. I got it from Iliana de la Vega who used to own El Naranjo in Oaxaca until the teacher unrest a few years ago. Now she's in Austin and teaches all the Mexican cuisine classes for the CIA. I don't think this recipe is copyrighted, but I'm going to paraphrase the method just in case.
CHILES EN NOGADA
For the stuffing
1/4 Cup Canola Oil
1/4 Cup White Onion
1/2 lb. Pork Shoulder, finely chopped
1/2 lb. Beef Round, finely chopped
1 lb. Roma Tomatoes, finely dieced
1 ea. Golden Delicious Apple, peeled and finely diced
1 ea. d'Anjou Pear, peeled and finely diced
1/2 ea. Ripe Plantain, peeled and finely diced
1/4 Cup Almonds, blanched and chopped
1/4 Cup Black Raisins, chopped (Thompson seedless are fine)
1/4 Cup Candided Pineapple, chopped
1/4 tsp. Canela, ground
1 pinch Cloves, ground
1 tsp. Salt
For the Sauce
1 cup Walnuts
2 oz Almonds, blanched
1/2 Cup Crema, Mexicana
3 oz Cream Cheese, softened
Milk, whole, as needed
1 tsp. Sweet Sherry (optional)
1 tsp. Sugar, granulated
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. White pepper, ground
8 ea. Poblano chiles, 1" cut at tip of chile, fried until blistered, cleaned
1/2 Cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan (that will be big enough to hold the picadillo) and fry the onion until it softens but does not brown.
2. Add the pork and beef and brown it well. Add the tomatoes and cook until the meats are tender. About 15 mintues
3. Reduce the heat and add the apple, pear and plantain. Cook another 5 mintues.
4. Add the almonds, raisin, candided pineapple, ground canela and clove and salt to taste (it will probably take more than the tsp. called for in the ingredients). Stir well and continue cooking until all the juices have evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temp.
5. For the sauce puree the walnuts, almonds, crema and cream cheese with a little of the milk. The mixture should appear thick and taste nutty. If it's too thick add a little more milk. Season with the salt, white pepper, sugar and sherry if using. Blend again and turn into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Just remember to bring it to room temp before putting it on the chiles. The sauce should end up about the consistency of heavy cream (or perhaps slightly thicker) or Mexican crema.
6. Stuff the picadillo into the cleaned chiles. The chiles should be very, very full and barely able to close.
7. Nap the stuffed chile with the sauce and garnish with the pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley
So there you go. An easy - though time consuming with all the chopping - recipe for Chiles en Nogada. This picadillo recipe is excellent.
Thanks, DD, but easy? I can't think of another dish that has 24 ingredients. For the benefit of others, the dish was invented in the 1800's in Puebla for a visiting dignitary, and it showcases the colors of the Mexican flag. To this day, many restaurants in Puebla compete to make the best chile en nogada in the season when the walnuts and pomegranates have ripened.
My ladyfriend in DF and Michoacan would spend all day making them with a 25th ingredient: a whole lot of love. Everyone should have a chance to experience them. Truly Mexican at its best.
Veggo, darling, of course it's easy...if you're a convent full of nuns ;-D
But seriously, most Mexican cooking is more intimidating than difficult. Like mole from scratch, if you break this recipe down into blocks of tasks, it really is easy. The worst of this recipe really is all the chopping for the picadillo, and making the effort to chop the meats rather than using ground pork and beef is really worth it. And you make the sauce in a blender for goodness sake, how hard is that ;-)
The poblanos you can probably just char, sweat and clean rather than frying to blister. The recipe was designed for large scale production in a commercial kitchen and plunging chile peppers into the deep fryer to blister is the easiest way to peel large numbers of chiles very quickly.
BTW, I forgot to add that the candied pineapple is the substitution for acitron/biznaga, which isn't widely available NOB. You can , however, bring it back if you travel in Mexico.