Chiles in Nogada (Walnut Sauce)
Chiles in Nogada is a festive Mexican recipe that was traditionally served during the Mexican New Year. This colorful and tasty dish represents the colors of the Mexican flag. The dish is made with stuffed poblano chiles bathed in nogada (a creamy white walnut sauce). The nogada is made with skinless walnuts that should be soaked overnight, so don't forget to start this recipe a day before you want to serve it. To save time, I found skinless walnuts on Amazon and fresh pomegranate seeds can be purchased at Trader Joes ready to go. The stuffed chiles are typically served warm, individually in a plate or bowl, with the walnut sauce at room temperature and garnished with pomegranate seeds and sprinkled with chopped parsley or cilantro. The meat filling called "picadillo" varies. Authentic recipes combine both beef and pork, adding an apple, pear and a peach. Other recipes include peas, cashews, potato, and chopped cactus candy; however, the recipe below is my own version, with my personal touch and made with lots of love. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Picadillo (Meat filing)
2 lbs. beef stew meat
6 finely chopped almonds
6 finely chopped walnuts
1/8 cup golden raisins
3 cloves garlic
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cumin
pinch of ground cloves
1 bay leaf
garlic salt and pepper
cilantro or parsley for topping
Ingredients for Nogada (Walnut Sauce)
1 cup skinless walnuts
1 cup Mexican creama (not sour cream)
1 cup Mexican queso fresco
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon monk sugar
Prepare the walnuts the day before serving. Blanch one cup of walnuts in hot water for 3 mins, remove from water and pat dry. When they have cooled down, remove skin as much as possible to avoid bitterness, then soak overnight in bowl with 2 cups of milk. You can also use brown sugar or white sugar if you don't have monk sugar. When preparing the sauce, drain walnuts and combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
How to Prepare the Meat Filing (Picadillo)
I like to use a combination of 4 large beef shank and a small portion of beef stew meat for the filing. Some recipes use ground beef or turkey meat, but traditionally a combination of beef and pork is used. Use an InstantPot to save time.
Brown the stew meat in 2- 3 tsp of olive oil with garlic salt and pepper. When beef is browned on both sides, add 1/2 of the chopped onion and 3 chopped cloves of garlic and fry lightly, adding more olive oil if needed. Transfer the beef stew meat into an InstantPot. Cook stew meat 15-20 minutes with the other half of the chopped onion, add one Sazon packet, and one bay leaf. Make sure that meat is covered in liquid (can use water or broth), check that the release valve in the closed position. Set timer for 15-20 minutes, depending on type of beef stew meat, pressure cook on high and slow release steam when finished.
Fire roast 6 to 7 poblano chillies over stove until blackened on all sides, one at a time. Then, fire roast one tomato. Make sure not to leave the stove unsupervised as the skin also tends to flake into the air, so please be careful during this part of the process.
You can sweat the chiles and tomato in a plastic bag or under a plate so that skins come off easily. When the chilies have cooled off, leave the stem on so you can grip them better while removing skin with a butter knife or spoon, remove seeds with fingers. You can also quickly run them under water to remove seeds. If poblano chillies are too spicy, dip them in vinegar and water for a few seconds after they are skinned and seedless.
When meat is cooked, chop evenly, and set aside. Fry the other half of the chopped onion for about 3 minutes then add meat, chopped fruit (one half apple and one half pear), add golden raisins (don't chop the raisins), finely chopped nuts (sliced almonds and walnuts), cubed carrot, blended fire roasted tomato puree and seasonings. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste if more is needed. Cook until sauce is reduced. If the mixture becomes too dry add broth. Don't forget to remove the bay leaf.
Stuff the poblano pepper with meat mixture, place individually in a bowl or plate with closed part of the pepper on top so that the opening and meat filing isn't showing. Before serving, prepare nogada by draining the walnuts, adding the one cup of skinless walnuts, 1 cup of creama, 1 cup of queso fresco, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon monk sugar into a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. The walnut sauce should be room temperature when served. Drizzle freshly made walnut sauce over each stuffed pepper. Then, sprinkle with chopped parsley or
cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Decorate with one large green leaf in the center. Enjoy!