While chiles rellenos have achieved relative fame—perhaps because there's no arguing with a stuffed and fried pepper—there is another stuffed poblano dish from the Puebla region of Mexico that is equally delicious, and a little less heavy. Chiles en Nogada—"nogada" refers to the creamy walnut sauce poured over everything—uses a poblano pepper that is charred and skinned, carefully deseeded, and filled with an unusual, delicious mixture of ground meat, fruit, and spices.
Looking at the ingredient list, it doesn't seem to make much sense. Peaches? Pineapple? Pork? But when it comes together it's a surprising combination, both in flavor and texture: aromatic, savory, and sweet, often all at once.
Traditionally the dish is garnished with pomegranate seeds, which become the third color of the Mexican flag. I didn't have any when making this dish, but they would make a nice touch.
Adapted from chef Dudley Nieto.
- 4 poblano peppers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced
- 8 ounces pineapple, diced
- 8 ounces raisins
- 8 ounces canned peaches in syrup, diced
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 6 ounces heavy cream
- 4 ounces evaporated milk
- 4 ounces chopped walnuts
- 2 ounces sweet sherry (optional)
- Pomegranate seeds for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
Over an open flame, char the poblano peppers until the skins are blackened, then transfer to a bowl covered with a towel for 10 minutes to allow the steam to loosen the skins. Slip off the skins and carefully split the peppers along one side. Remove the seeds and membrane and rinse them carefully. Set aside to dry.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions and garlic. Cook until lightly browned, a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook for an additional two minutes. Add the pork with a good few pinches of salt, breaking the pork up into small pieces as it cooks, until it is no longer pink and starting to take on some color. Add the pineapple, raisins, and peaches, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the cumin and season to taste.
To make the walnut sauce, purée the walnuts in a blender or small food processor with the cream and evaporated milk, and sherry if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper
To assemble the peppers, stuff them carefully with the mixture and, if desired, warm them through in a low oven. Top with the walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds, if using, and serve.