Mexico has a colorful and delicious national dish called Chiles en Nogada. The colors of red, white and green mimic the Mexican flag and symbolizes faith, hope and charity. I think it could be the perfect dish for this holiday season! Easier than it looks and so beautifully presented, your friends and family will be delighted and their taste buds, joyous!
'Tis the season!
Chiles en Nogada
6-8 poblano chiles,* roasted, seeded and deveined (easier than you think!)
1 lb ground pork
2-3 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 c crushed tomatoes
1/2 apple, diced (fuji or johnagold)
3 T dried fruits chopped coarsely (I used raisins, dried cranberries, and dried apricots; dried mangoes or dried peaches would be yummy, too, whatever is on hand)
1/4 c sliced, toasted almonds, crumbled
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of cloves
salt and pepper
One large pomegranate, seeded **
Heat 1 T olive oil in a frying pan and add the pork. Cook until browned and crumbly. Remove from heat, drain off any fat and set aside. In the same pan put in 2 T olive oil and the butter and saute the onions and garlic until soft, seasoning with 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper. Add the cooked pork, tomatoes, apple, dried fruits, almonds, cinnamon and cloves. Cook for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Taste for seasonings and set aside to cool. If the mixture seems too thick add a couple of tablespoons of water. Prepare the chiles (see below) and stuff with the filling. Just before serving, place the chiles on a sheet pan, cover with foil and heat at 250 degrees for 30 minutes. The sauce can be at room temperature or heat in microwave for 15-30 seconds until barely warm (traditionally it is served at room temp). Top a chile with the walnut sauce and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. YUM!
1 c shelled walnuts (supplied by my friend Nanette, I shelled mine but please buy, easier!)
3/4 c half & half
1/4 c sliced, toasted almonds (Trader Joe's has some already toasted lightly)
1/2 c mild goat cheese
2 T dry sherry
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1 t sugar
Puree all ingredients in a blender. Add more half and half if the sauce is too thick. Set aside.
*To roast the chiles: Open flame method: Place chiles directly over the gas flame or on a medium hot charcoal or gas grill. Roast, turning occasionally, until blistered and blackened on all sides but not soft, about 5 minutes. The broiler method: Lay chiles on a baking sheet set about 4 inches below a preheated broiler. Roast, turning occasionally until blistered and blackened on all sides but not soft, about 10 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to steam for about 10 minutes. Peel the charred skin off the chiles and rinse them if necessary. Make a long slit in the side of each chile and carefully remove the seeds and veins. Now they are ready to stuff!
**Pomegranates are easy to seed, just split open by inserting a knife in the top and twisting. Put the whole thing in a bowl of water and separate the seeds underwater then pour off the water through a strainer. I love this method, it keeps you and your counter from all those red splatters!
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
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