¡Viva México! Chiles en Nogada has been the traditional Independence Day dish in Mexico for the last two centuries. It is said to have been created by a goup of nuns in Puebla who prepared this unique dish to honor the colors of the Mexican flag (green, red and white) for the leader of the Mexican Army in 1821. Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th, and this dish can be found in many restaurants and home kitchens a few weeks before and after the month of September, which also coincides with pomegranate season. If you're unable to find fresh pomegranate, a common substitute is finely chopped strawberry.
This is a dramatic and festive dish full of history.
It took me a few years to come up with the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Personally, I love the nogada sauce slightly on the sweeter side and this recipe reflects it, but if you prefer yours more savory and less sweet, just reduce the sweetened condensed milk to your liking.
CHILES EN NOGADA
16 Poblano chile peppers
2 tsp olive oil 100gr chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1/4 cup white wine or sherry 780gr tomato, roasted and peeled 500 gr ground beef
500 gr ground pork 175gr (approx. 2 small) golden apples, peeled cored and diced 175gr (approx. 2) pears, peeled cored and diced
80gr toasted almond, finely chopped 110gr dehydrated apricot, chopped 60gr raisins 65gr pine nuts 4 whole cloves, freshly ground 5 pink peppercorns, freshly ground
1/4 tsp cumin powder
250 ml water 3 tsp boullion (or to taste)
1/2 cdita salt (or to taste)
Nogada Sauce ½ can sweetened condensed milk 1 can evaporated milk 1 box / 190gr Philladelphia cream cheese 100gr plain goat cheese 250gr walnuts 450gr heavy cream 1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
Nogada sauce, chopped fresh parsley, pomegranate seeds.
Rinse and dry the chile peppers.
Roast the peppers over an open flame, turning often, till blackened. Let them rest in a plastic bag till cool, to trap the smoky flavor and help them sweat. Remove and dispose of the blackened skin by wiping with a sturdy paper town, your hands, or by carefully scraping with a dull knife. It’s ok if a few spots of black remain.
Using a small paring knife, with gloved hands, create an opening from the stem, ¾ of the way to the tip. Remove the seeds and veins while maintaining the pocket shape of the chile so it can be filled. Set aside.
In an ungreased frying pan, roast the whole tomatoes over medium heat till softened. Let cool, and remove peel and stem.
Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the oil and onion. Cook till transparent. Deglaze the pan with the white wine (or sherry). Add the ground beef and ground pork. Smash the meat to get rid of large chunks. When the meat is halfway cooked, add the roasted tomato, spices, fruit, almonds, pine nuts, garlic, water and bullion. Cover and continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, till the water is absorbed and the meat is fully cooked. Adjust salt, if needed. Use immediately or make ahead and reheat before filling.
Place all ingredients into a blender and blend till combined. The mixture should be the consistency of eggnog. If necessary, thin with milk. Nogada sauce is traditionally served at room temperature.
When ready to serve: fill a chile with the meat filling and place onto rimmed plate or bowl. For a cleaner look, you can put the opening face down, but both presentations are acceptable. Add nogada sauce around the chile. Garnish with parsley and pomegranate.