Chiles in walnut sauce: Chiles en nogada
Several years ago, I gave a recipe for a simplified version of chiles en nogada. This one, while a bit more labor-intensive, is exquisite and a great project for making with family and friends. We have a lot of fun doing this, with everyone pitching in to roast the chiles and chop the various ingredients. Chiles en nogada are usually served at room temperature. During the fiestas patrias, we often have visitors who stay for at least a few days, and we all work on the filling and chile-roasting a day ahead, then fill and batter them the next day. The chiles and filling should be stored separately. The batter should be made right before frying the chiles and the sauce should be made in the same day.
For the chiles:
- 12 large poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
For the filling:
- 1 ½ pounds boneless pork, cooked and shredded
- corn oil as needed for frying
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 ½ pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup peeled, finely chopped pear
- 1 cup peeled, finely chopped apple
- 1 cup peeled, finely chopped peach
- 1 plantain, peeled and finely chopped
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
- ½ cup finely chopped candied citron (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 pinch saffron
- 2/3 cup dry sherry
For the batter:
- 8 eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons flour, plus extra for coating chiles
For the sauce:
- ¼ pound shelled walnuts, peeled of all brown skin (see NOTE)
- 1 quart milk
- 2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ pound double-cream queso fresco (or, if unavailable, cream cheese)
- salt to taste
- seeds from 2 pomegranates
- parsley sprigs
Make a slit up the side of each peeled chile and remove the seed sack and any loose seeds. If preparing a day ahead, store the chiles in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Chop the cooked, shredded pork as finely as possible. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet, add the onion and sauté until just turning soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook another minute. Add the meat and remaining filling ingredients and cook, stirring frequently, for another 10 minutes or until most of the sherry has evaporated. Set aside to cool. If making a day ahead, refrigerate in a covered container.
Place the nuts in a container with 3 cups of the milk. Cover and soak in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to make the sauce, drain the milk that was used for soaking and place the walnuts in the blender with the remaining cup of milk and the remaining sauce ingredients. Puree to a smooth consistency, taste and add salt.
When ready to prepare chiles, bring chiles and filling to room temperature and fill the chiles, dividing filling mixture evenly.
Separate 4 of the eggs. Beat the whites until stiff peaks form. Add ¼ teaspoon of the salt to the yolks, beat them and fold them into the whites. Fold in 1 tablespoon of the flour.
Heat about ¾" of oil in a skillet, coat each chile with flour, gently tapping off excess, then dip into batter, coating evenly. Gently lay each chile in the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides, turning carefully. Repeat with remaining eggs, salt, flour and chiles. Each 4-egg batch of batter will coat 6 chiles. Making any more batter at a time will result in runny batter.
Pour sauce over chiles and garnish with pomegranate seeds and sprigs of parsley. Makes 12 chiles.
NOTE: Here in Puebla we can buy the walnuts already peeled, but to do this at home, pour boiling water over nutmeat to loosen the skins. When cool enough to handle, rub the skins off with your fingertips.