Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chiles en Nogada (Chiles in Walnut Sauce)

Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This is one of my favorite Mexican dishes even though I've only tried this once. I first read about this dish in the novel, Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel. The book interweaves recipes that are relevant to each chapter and this recipe was the last recipe featured in the book. It was served during the wedding of Esperanza and Alex and was lovingly prepared by her Aunt, Tita who is the main protagonist. All of Tita's love was poured into this dish that every guest after partaking of the dish ended up sexually aroused and had to run out of the wedding party to find means of alleviating their urges. 

Now, I'm not saying my version will have the same effect but this dish is very dear to Mexicans so I'm making sure that I respect that by staying true to the basics. It has a long history and it also has a lot of controversy tied to it in terms of what is authentic and how it should be prepared. I once managed to convince my Mexican friends, Nash and Jessy, to make this for me although they only agreed after I said I'll take care of the sauce. Turned out, the sauce is the hardest part of the dish to prepare. Peeling off the skin of each walnuts is no picnic and will take you hours to complete or until your hands are stiff and you give up. 

Well, suffice it to say that my memory of this dish was again reignited after seeing the mounds of red pomegranates in the grocery stores for the last couple of weeks. Since then, I knew that there is no turning back and I will have to give it a try without my friends' help. Nash is now in Germany and Jessy is in Colorado so it will be quite difficult to have them here just to cook for me. Researching on blogs that feature "authentic" recipes of the dish came up with a few really good ones. I then decided to synthesize my own version of the dish while staying true (hopefully) to the essence of this revered dish. I hope I do not disappoint nor offend anyone. 

Chiles en Nogada (Chile in Walnut Sauce)

6 poblano peppers (sold as passilla)
parsley or cilantro
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbsp lard

Picadillo Filling:
Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
2 lbs diced pork butt
1 onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 hard yellow peaches, 
  peeled, pitted and diced
1 Granny Smith Apple, 
  peeled, cored and diced
1 ripe plantain banana, 
  peeled and diced
1/2 cup sultanas and raisins 
  soaked in 1/2 cup sherry
1/4 cup candied pineapple, 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp walnuts
2 tbsp blanched almonds
salt and pepper
3 tbsp canola oil

5 eggs, separated
1/4 cup flour + extra for dusting
1/4 tsp salt

Nogada Sauce:
1 cup peeled walnuts
1 cup half and half
4 oz goat cheese
4 oz cream cheese
pinch of cinnamon
2 tbsp sherry

1. Roast the poblanos in a broiler for about 5 minutes or until blistered and 
    blackened. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with clingfilm until 
    softened. Carefully peel the skin leaving the stalks intact. Make an 
    incision and spoon out the seeds and remove the veins. Set aside. 

2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the garlic and 
    onion until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cinnamon, 
    cloves, and the herbs and saute for 2 minutes. Add the pork and cook 
    for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

3. Add the raisins and sultanas with the sherry, and the candied pineapple 
    and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the peach, apple and banana and 
    mix well. Check for flavor and cover the pot and let it simmer for 15 
    minutes. Add the nuts and mix well. Check the meat for flavor and turn 
    off the heat. Cool completely. 

4. When ready to stuff the peppers, heat 1/2 cup of oil with the lard at 
    medium heat in a frying pan. Fill the cavity with enough filling making 
    sure you can still seal the edges. Dredge in flour and dip into the capaeda 
    and fry in the hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. 

5. To serve, lay a fried Poblano on a plate and drizzle with the walnut sauce 
    generously. Garnish with pomegranate seed and cilantro or parsley leaves. 


Make sure that you soak the raisins and currants about an hour prior to making the filling. This allows the sherry to infuse the dried fruit. Hard peaches are out of season at this time of the year so I substituted with a mixture of 1 cup of dried mango and apricot. 

The nogada sauce looks a bit thin due to the heat
 from the fried poblanos but it thickened well once cooled.
Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Prepare the walnut sauce way ahead of time. Peel off the brown skin on the walnut and it does take some time but it is necessary. Rinse with water and soak in the half and half overnight. Pour the walnut mix into a blender and add the cheeses. Blitz until thick. Season with salt and a pinch of cinnamon. Keep cold. The sauce thickens the longer it sits. 

To make the capaeda wrap, beat the egg whites until stiff and thick. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the egg yolks and season with the salt. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture and mix until just blended. Make sure to do this at the very last minute.


  1. Dan, how did it taste? It looks delicious!!! If I wanted to make a vegetarian version could I just replace the pork butt w goat cheese? How do you think that would taste? The pictures are amazing!!! Miss your cooking.

  2. Anna, I found a couple of blogs featuring vegetarian versions of this dish. Will try to pass them along to you. Definitely miss our dinners. Good times!!!