Chiles en nogada (Stuffed chile peppers in a walnut sauce)
Author Lisa Fain
For the chiles:
4medium-sized poblano chiles
2teaspoonslard or vegetable oil
1/4medium yellow onion, diced
1Roma tomato, cored and chopped (or 1/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes, drained)
1medium green apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4dried apricots, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
For the walnut sauce:
1/2cupchopped raw walnuts
4ouncescream cheese, room temperature
1/4cupmilk, plus more if desired
Seeds from 1 ripe pomegranate
Roast the poblano chiles under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place chile in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chile steam for 20 minutes.
While the chiles are steaming, in a large skillet, on medium, heat up the fat and then add the ground pork. Cook until lightly browned (about 5 minutes) and then add the onions. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 2-3 minutes and then stir in the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme and allspice. Add the chopped tomato, apple, raisins, dried apricots and pecans and add salt to taste. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Take the chiles out of the bag and rub off the skin. Cut a slit into each chile, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and pith. Stuff each chile with one fourth of the picadillo filling.
To make the sauce, place the walnuts in an oven set at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove the walnuts, allow them to cool and then rub them to peel off the skin. (Even though it’s traditional to completely peel the walnuts, I wouldn’t stress too much if bits of skin stay on the nuts.) Place the walnuts in a blender along with the sour cream, cream cheese and milk and blend until a smooth, slightly thick sauce forms. Add the cinnamon and salt to taste. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add more milk.
To serve, place a stuffed chile on each plate and pour over it some of the walnut sauce. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and cilantro for garnish.
Serve at room temperature.
It’s traditional to add peaches, pears, bananas, potatoes and candied citrus dried fruits to their filling, as well, but to save time I did not. Other variations: For the picadillo, some use shredded pork, while others use ground beef; for the sauce, some people add sherry while others add Worcestershire; and finally, some believe that the chile should be battered and fried.
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