Chiles en Nogada (Chiles in Walnut Sauce)
2 cups shelled walnuts
1 ½ cups milk, plus additional to thin sauce, if needed
1 ½ cups sour cream
Salt to taste
8 poblano chiles
2 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped
Poblanco Chile Filling
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped golden raisins
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
12 oz. ground pork
12 oz. ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 large eggs
Pinch of salt
Canola, vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
All-purpose flour, for dusting
2 cups chicken or veal stock
Walnut Sauce: Soak the walnuts in 1 ½ cups of milk overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, pour off and discard the milk. Rub the walnuts between your fingers to break up the skin, and pick it off with the tip of a sharp paring knife if needed. (It’s a hard job, but it makes a big difference in taste and appearance of the sauce.) Puree the walnuts and sour cream in a food processor or blender. Taste and add salt if needed. If the sauce seems too thick, thin it with a little milk or half-and-half. Keep chilled until needed, but bring back to room temperature before using.
Poblano Chiles: Use the underwater process to remove arils from fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.) Place the bell peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush peppers all over with olive oil and roast in the oven under the broiler for about 10 minutes, turning frequently to prevent burning, until the skins are blistered and blackened on all sides. Remove peppers from the oven and lay a clean kitchen towel over them until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. This will make the skins easier to remove. Peel off the skins, and then remove the seeds.
Chile Filling: Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, raisins and apple; cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high; add the pork and beef, cooking 6 to 8 more minutes to brown the meat, breaking it up as it’s cooking. Stir in the salt, pepper, cinnamon, and vinegar, and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. The filling should be moist but not saucy. It can be made a day ahead, and kept refrigerated. About an hour before serving, remove the walnut sauce from the refrigerator. Dry the chiles with paper towels and carefully fill them with the meat mixture, a couple of tablespoons per chile. Don’t rush this step, as you don’t want to tear the chiles.
Frying Instructions: Separate the eggs, with the whites going into the bowl of a mixer or another medium-size bowl, and 2 yolks into a smaller bowl (discard the 2 remaining yolks or keep them for another use). Using the mixer or by hand, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add a pinch of salt and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Lightly beat the yolks, and then fold these into the whites. In a large skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil to 375°F. Coat the chiles lightly with flour, shake off the excess, and then dip them in the egg. Fry the chiles in small batches to avoid overcrowding (they should not touch in the skillet). Cook until they are golden brown on one side, then turn and cook until golden brown on the other. Adjust the temperature as needed. If the chiles brown too fast, the insides will not be hot, and if the temperature is too low, the chiles will absorb oil instead of getting crisp and brown. As the chiles finish, remove them to drain on a metal rack or paper towels. Skim out any bits that have fallen into the oil, and let the oil come back to 375°F between batches.
Baking Instructions: Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Tuck the chiles into a casserole dish, and drizzle with a bit of chicken or veal stock. Bake uncovered 15 to 20 minutes, until they are steamy and hot through.
Serving Instructions: Pool the walnut sauce in the center of a large platter. Place the chiles in the center, and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate arils and cilantro. Alternatively, you could pour the sauce out onto individual plates (dark plates look good), top with a chile, then sprinkle with fresh pomegranate arils and cilantro. Serve immediately.