Chiles Poblanos en Nogada

Puebla Chiles Stuffed with Pork in Walnut Sauce

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    6

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

A Canon of Vegetables

A Canon of Vegetables

By Raymond Sokolov

Published 2007

  • About

The chile poblano is a glistening dark green chile just big enough to stuff. Poblano means that it is associated with the colonial city of Puebla, now a short drive from Mexico City and redolent of its own colonial traditions, rich in colonial architecture, and home of the emblematic Mexican girl, the China Poblana, or Pueblan Chinese maiden. In a thousand labels and posters, she wears her colorful outfit and stands for the proud early days of the Manila galleons that plied the Pacific from the Philippines to Acapulco, linking Europe and Asia. From Acapulco, goods were carted across Mexico to ships waiting in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean to sail on to Seville.

With an even stronger flavor of nationalism, the chile poblano en nogada represents the Mexican revolt from the Spanish yoke. At least by the standard account, the already routine fusion dish, chile relleno*, was dressed up with fresh walnuts and a fancy sauce made to show the colors of the new flag: green (chile), red (pomegranate), and white (cream). It may also simply be the case that pomegranates were in season in September, the mes patria, so-called because on the sixteenth of that month in 1810, Father Hidalgo rang the tocsin of liberty from his church in Dolores Guanajuato and set the revolution in motion. Either explanation works for me. But if you are grabbed by the historical myth, remember to stand and give the grito (the cry) of Independence when you serve chiles poblanos en nogada: ¡Viva Mexico!

All over the world, Mexicans will be shouting the same words, and if they are in luck, they will have found chiles poblanos to stuff and savor.

Ingredients

  • 12 poblano chiles
  • pounds boneless pork shoulder, cubed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1 pound tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 10 blanched almonds, slivered
  • 10 pitted green olives, chopped
  • Sugar
  • Pepper
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 50 walnuts, shelled (freshly harvested if possible, otherwise soaked in water overnight), with inner skin removed
  • ½ cup Mexican sour cream or crème fraîche
  • ¼ cup sherry
  • 2 pomegranates

Method

  1. Toast the chiles over a direct flame or under the broiler until the skins are blackened. Then leave them in a paper bag for 20 minutes. They should now peel easily. After peeling, cut a lengthwise slit in each chile, but leave the stem and the tip end intact. Trim out the internal veins and remove the seeds. Set aside.
  2. Cook the pork in lightly salted water to cover, along with half the garlic and onion, for 45 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and chop the pork fine.
  3. Heat the corn oil in a large saucepan and add the remaining garlic plus all but a tablespoon of the remaining onion. Add the chiles and toss until the onion is translucent. Then add the vinegar, 1 cup water, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the chiles are cooked through, about 10 minutes or less.
  4. Meanwhile, finish cooking the stuffing (el relleno). Melt the lard in a skillet and add the remaining tablespoon of onion. Sauté until translucent. Then add the pork, the tomatoes, the raisins, the almonds, and the olives. Stir together and add ½ cup of the reserved pork cooking liquid, a small amount of sugar, salt, pepper, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.
  5. Make the walnut sauce (la nogada). Chop the nuts very fine and stir together with the sour cream. Then stir in the sherry. The sauce should be thick but pourable. Add more sherry if necessary to create this consistency.

    Stuff the chiles with the pork mixture. Arrange them on a serving platter, cover with the sauce, and then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

*The indigenous chile is stuffed with post-Hispanic pork.

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