The Chiles en Nogada recipe is a classic Mexican Independence Day dish made from stuffed peppers

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Chiles and Nogada

Total time:1 hour 20 minutes plus 8 hours to soak the walnuts

Servings:4 to 8

Total time:1 hour 20 minutes plus 8 hours to soak the walnuts

Servings:4 to 8

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Widely considered the national dish of Mexico, Puebla’s Chilis en Nogada is traditionally served across the country from mid-July through September and is a patriotic treat during Mexican Independence celebrations. The dish reflects the colors of today’s Mexican flag – although it was inspired by the banner of the united, revolutionary Army of the Three Guarantees – in its green poblanos, white walnut sauce and red pomegranate seeds. Originally, the poblanos were stuffed and fried in egg batter, as the dish is still served in Puebla. In this recipe from La Casita Mexicana restaurant in Bell, California, poblanos are charred and stuffed before being topped with a creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. The dish is served on warm plates at room temperature.

Chiles en nogada is a Mexican classic that celebrates past and present

Shelled walnuts make the preferred bright white sauce. To shell them yourself, buy the freshest walnuts you can find. Line a plate with a towel. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and add the walnuts for 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the nuts onto the prepared platter. Use your fingers to peel off the thin brown skin covering each piece. It should come off in fairly large chunks if the nuts are very fresh; Use a toothpick or skewer to pry the skin out of the crevices. Place the nuts in an airtight container, cover with milk and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight.

If the poblanos have a strong aroma, they are probably very hot. You can lower the heat by soaking the peppers in lightly salted water overnight before roasting.

Get ahead: The walnuts must be soaked for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight before preparing the sauce. The picadillo can be prepared up to 3 days in advance.

Storage: Refrigerate the stuffed poblanos and sauce separately for up to 3 days; The sauce may darken over time. Take the sauce out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off. Heat the poblanos in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes until slightly warm.

Where to buy: It is best to use fresh or frozen walnuts – nuez de castilla congelada – to avoid bitter substances. The recipe calls for shelled walnuts, sometimes called skinless walnuts, which are available online and in well-stocked Latin American markets. If you prefer to peel your own, see NOTES. Mexican crema is available in Latin American markets and well-stocked supermarkets.

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  • 2 cups (7 ounces) fresh walnut halves and chunks, preferably shelled (see NOTES)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 2 ounces queso fresco or chevre
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate for serving
  • Fresh sprigs of flat-leaf parsley to serve

For the poblanos and picadillo

  • 4 to 8 fresh poblano peppers, preferably extra large and stemmed (2 pounds total; see NOTES)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 ripe medium plantain (6 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 small white onion (5 ounces), diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped or finely grated
  • 8 ounces ground pork shoulder
  • 8 ounces ground beef (at least 90 percent lean)
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, divided, plus more as needed
  • 2 medium peaches, cored and diced
  • 1 medium pear, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoons candied lemon or pineapple, diced
  • 2 tablespoons dark or golden raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup no-salt beef broth
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 3/4 ounces) toasted slivered almonds

Soak the walnuts: Place the walnuts in a bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups milk. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 8 hours or up to overnight.

Sear the poblanos: Place the poblanos directly over a gas flame or on a medium-hot grill, turning occasionally, until bubbled on all sides and blackened but not tender, about 5 minutes total per side. (Alternatively, position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the oven grill element and turn on the grill. Place the poblanos on a large rimmed baking sheet and grill, watching carefully and turning occasionally with tongs, about 5 minutes per side, or until brown in spots and blistering throughout, but not charred.)

Transfer the poblanos to a heatproof bowl, cover with a plate to steam and set aside until cool enough to handle. Gently rub off the blackened skin, being careful not to leave the stalks and pulp intact. (If you’re sensitive to chilies, wear food-safe gloves when handling the peppers.) Cut a slit down one side of each poblano, starting near the stem and going most of the way down the side. Reach in gently and use your hands and a paring knife to remove the seeds and pulp, being careful not to dislodge the stalk.

Prepare Picadillo: Line a large plate with a towel. In a 12-inch, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the plantains and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour onto the prepared plate.

If the pan seems dry, add more oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 10 seconds. Add the pork and beef and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is no longer pink, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the peaches, pears, apples, candied fruit, raisins, cinnamon, and cloves. Add the broth and stir to combine. Cover the pan and simmer until the apple and pear are soft but not mushy and the flavors have mingled, about 10 minutes. Season with the remaining salt, taste and add more to taste. Add the almonds and fried plantains and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let cool for about 15 minutes.

Prepare Sauce: Prepare the whitest sauce about 15 minutes before serving. Drain the walnuts and reserve the soaked milk. In a blender, combine the nuts and 1 cup soaking milk, sugar, sherry, salt, and cinnamon. Blend on high until a drop of puree is no longer gritty when rubbed between fingers, about 2 minutes. If the mixture is too thick to puree, add more of the reserved milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until fluffy enough to mix lightly. Add the crema or sour cream and queso fresco or chevre and mix for a few seconds until well combined. If sauce is still too thick, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce is as thick as cream.

Taste and adjust with more salt and sugar if needed. The sauce should have a slightly sweet edge but not taste salty. Set aside on the counter. Don’t chill.

Assemble the chiles: Place the peppers on a clean work surface and spoon in the picadillo, gently squeezing with the back of a spoon until full but without splitting the poblano. Use your hands to gently snap the peppers back into their original shape.

Place a stuffed poblano on a warm rimmed plate. Spoon a generous helping of the sauce over the chili, releasing some of the pepper and filling, and allow the sauce to collect on the plate. Repeat with the remaining poblanos and sauce. Sprinkle each poblano generously with the pomegranate seeds, garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve.

Calories: 587; total fat: 42 g; Saturated fat: 9 g; cholesterol: 58 mg; Sodium: 580 mg; carbohydrates: 38 g; dietary fiber: 7 g; sugar: 23 g; Egg white: 22 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a nutritionist or nutritionist.

Adapted from La Casita Mexicana restaurant in Bell, California.

Tested by Jim Webster; email questions [email protected].

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