The most recent episode of my over-reaching life finds me two weeks ago sending The Professor and my kids off on the hour drive to the nearest decent grocery store to buy, fresh poblanos, ground pork, peaches (which I didn’t end up using), and pomegranates (which he couldn’t find). I was determined to make Chiles en Nogada, the classic Mexican Independence Day meal, for you prior to Dies y Sies de Septiembre—the 16th of September, similar to our 4th of July.
You see, I’d been planning it since last year. I’d been dreaming about the recipe and then all of the sudden it was a week out and there were no pomegranates within 100 miles and, oh yeah, we were going out of town for two weeks. Ay, yi, yi, this stuffed chile thing was not going to happen.
So it is with sincerest apologies that I am a week late with this recipe, showing up late to the party…..again. On the upside, they did have pomegranates in Michigan (!) as well as some of the most beautiful pretzels I ever did see. Plus, my husband might win ArtPrize (I’m just going to keep saying it in hopes that will up his chances) but if you are in Grand Rapids, go ahead and give him your vote, ‘kay?
In true patriotic fashion, this dish represents the colors of the Mexican flag, dark green poblano chiles, creamy white walnut sauce, and bright red pops of pomegranate (a much classier version of our multicolored flag desserts). They are a source of pride in Puebla, where it is said the dish was born, but these picadillo-stuffed peppers are eaten all over the country during this time of year when summer bursts into fall and ripe peppers, tomatoes, apples, fresh walnuts, and pomegranates are simultaneously in season.
I hardly ever make chile rellenos, they take a bit of time, but this one is a show stopper and worth every minute of effort. And bonus, if you leave out the walnut sauce they are dairy free—a rarity in a Mexican stuffed, fried pepper!
Not saying that you should, because honestly the walnut sauce is where it’s at.
Have a great week everybody!!
Recipe inspired by Saveur
- 6 large poblano chiles
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
- 4 ounces ground beef
- 4 ounces ground pork
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 4 ounces (about 1 heaping cup) walnuts
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups canola oil, for frying
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Heat broiler to high and arrange a rack about 3 inches from the heat source. Place chiles on a baking sheet and place under the broiler.
- Cook, turning occasionally for 4-5 minutes or until charred on all sides. Place chiles in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle.
- Peel off charred skin and carefully cut a circle around the top of the chile. Gently pull out the core and rinse to remove any seeds, being careful not to split the chile open. If it does split, don't worry you can still use it.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add onions, garlic, and apples and season with salt and pepper. Cook until veggies are soft, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add ground meats and cook, breaking up with the back of a spoon until browned, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add sesame seeds and cinnamon and toast 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes have brown down and mixture is thick, about 4 minutes more.Taste and season with more salt if needed. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Place walnuts in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Let gently boil for 5 minutes and drain.
- Return walnuts to the pan and add milk. Bring to a simmer then cover and remove from heat. Let sit 30 minutes to soften.
- Transfer milk and nuts to a blender. Add sour cream and salt and blend on high until smooth.
- Carefully spoon filling into each chile, pressing down with your fingers to make sure filling gets all the way to the bottom, but be careful not to split the chile. If the chiles do split open, you can split them all the way, open each chile flat, add the filling, then roll them back up. They will be a more difficult to fry this way, but still doable.
- Heat oil in a large, dry frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering, it will take at least 5-10 minutes to get the oil hot enough.
- Meanwhile, place flour in a shallow dish. In a separate large bowl, whisk egg whites until fluffy. Add yolks, vinegar, and salt and whisk until smooth.
- Dip each chile into flour then egg mixture then carefully slide into hot oil. Cook until golden brown on all sides, about 5-8 minutes. Remove with tongs to a rack set over a baking sheet and repeat with remaining chiles.
- To serve, place each chile on a plate, cover almost completely with walnut sauce, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and sprinkle with parsley.