Next Friday, September 16, the Mexicans will celebrate their independence day. (No, it’s not celebrated on May 5!) The traditional dish for the day is the famous “chiles en nogada,” or stuffed poblano chile pepper in walnut sauce. The colorful dish mimics the red, white, and green of the Mexican flag (much like Napoli’s famous pizza Margherita echoes the colors of the Italian flag).
So in honor of Mexican Independence Day we are happy to share Chef David Sterling’s “Chiles en Nogada” recipe. Chef Sterling, in addition to being a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and acclaimed chef, is also the head of our Culinary Yucatan cooking vacation!
Chiles en Nogada
For the chiles:
- 8 poblano chiles
- 115 gr raisins soaked in 250 ml dry sherry
- 45 gr vegetable oil (or lard)
- 20 gr finely chopped garlic
- 250 gr finely chopped onion
- 4 gr ground Mexican cinnamon (canela)
- 2 gr black pepper
- 1 gr each cumin and ground cloves
- 1 kilo ground pork
- 250 gr finely diced or ground smoked ham
- 250 gr tomatoes (cored, de-seeded, and finely chopped)
- 230 gr cubed apples (1.5 cm cubes)
- 230 g cubed pear (1.5 cm cubes)
- 100 gr chopped dried apricots
- 75 gr slivered blanched almonds
- 250 mL stock
- 10 gr salt (or to taste)
- 230 gr eggs, at room temperature and separated
- 90 gr flour mixed with 1 gr salt
- oil for frying
- 750 mL creme fraiche
- 200 gr walnuts
- 45 gr “bolillo” (a Mexican roll, or substitute fine white bread)
- 120 mL milk
- 120 mL dry sherry wine
- 10 gr sugar
- 1 gr ground Mexican cinnamon (canela)
- 4 gr salt
- 1 gr white pepper
- 200 gr cream cheese
- seeds from 2 pomegranates
- 25 gr parsley leaves, finely chopped
1. Remove the skins of the poblano chiles by plunging them in hot oil until the skin blisters. Allow to cool and then rub them under water, removing the skins gently. Carefully remove the seeds by making a slit on one side, but leave the stem intact. Pat dry.
2. Heat the oil or lard in a large skillet, saute the onions, garlic, and spices for a few minutes. Add the pork and ham and cook until the pork is browned. Add the sherry-soaked raisins and the rest of the ingredients. Cook until the liquid has most evaporated, around 15-20 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Let the filling cool to room temperature, then fill the poblano chiles with it.
3. Put the walnuts soak in the creme fraiche. Dissolved the sugar and spices in the milk and sherry. Slice the bread and allow it to soak, then transfer everything to a food processor, pureeing until smooth.
4. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking. beat the egg whites to still peaks and beat the yolks with the salt and flour to form a stiff paste. Incorporate half the egg whites into the yolk mixture, then fold into the remaining egg whites. Dip the chiles one at a time to coat evenly, then fry them up two at a time, turning once, until both sides are golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.
5. Spoon a bit of sauce on a plate, top with a chile and then more sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and pomegranate seeds.
Want to cook with Chef Sterling this fall or winter? Soak up the sunshine of Merida and learn amazing Yucatecan dishes on our cooking vacation in the Yucatan.
Try more of chef David’s authentic Mexican recipes:
By Peg Kern
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