This beautiful and delicious dish is traditionally served for Mexican Independence Day because it has the colors of the Mexican flag – red, white and green. The fact that pomegranates are in season at this time of year probably has something to do with it, too.
8 poblano chiles, roasted and peeled.
Note: This is the most time consuming step, and can be accomplished by grilling, broiling, or frying the chiles in hot oil. I prefer the hot oil method because it gets into the little crevasses on the surface of the chiles (think Edward Weston pepper photos!) that the other methods can miss.
4 c. water
1 t. salt
2 cloves garlic
1/2 t. salt
1 T. vegetable oil
3/4 lb. ground beef (or pork)
1/2 med. onion, finely chopped
1 small pear, peeled and diced
1 small, tart apple, peeled and diced
1/4 c. raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
2 small tomatoes, peeled and diced (1/2 lb.)
1/4 c. slivered almonds, diced
1/4 c. candied fruit (I prefer papaya or mango, but you can use pineapple or even candied cactus fruit)
Nogada (nut sauce – below)
Seeds of 1 large pomegranate
Ingredients for Nogada:
1 and 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
4 oz. cream cheese
1 T. sugar
3 T. brandy
3/4 c. Mexican crema or sour cream
Cut as small a slit as possible in one side of each chile to remove the seeds. Leave the stems on. Place the chiles in a large saucepan. Add water and 1 t. salt. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand several hours or refrigerate overnight.
Drain the chiles. Rinse and drain again, then set the chiles aside.
Mash the garlic with 1/2 t. salt to make a paste. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the ground beef. Cook until browned, stirring to crumble. Add garlic paste and onion. Cook until onion is tender. Add pear, apple, raisins, tomatoes, almonds, and candied fruit. simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Prepare the Nogada sauce. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.
Taste the meat mixture (called a picadillo) and add more salt if needed. Let cool slightly. Spoon the mixture into the chiles (through the slit you made earlier). This can be a little tricky, but the goal is to keep the chile as intact as possible.
To serve, top the stuffed chiles with the Nogada sauce and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 servings – although if I’m going to go to all of this trouble, I would double or triple the recipe. The stuffed chiles freeze well; then all you have to do is make the Nogada, which is easy, get a pomegranate, and you can have this fabulous meal again!
I have to warn you, these are a lot – and I mean a lot of work but, oh man, are they worth it! I usually turn it into a work party – invite people to dinner and get them to help cook it!
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