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Chiles en nogada by Cool Chile (based on a Rick Bayless recipe)

Serves

4-6

Cooks In

Over 60 minutes

In Mexico they cook these delicious stuffed poblanos called 'chiles en nogada' to celebrate Mexican Independence day on September 15th. The seasonal ingredients used in this festive recipe represent the colours in the Mexican flag: dark green fresh poblanos, creamy white walnuts and red, jewel-like pomegranate seeds. If you can find fresh British walnuts this is a great recipe to use them in. Although the peeling is a little fiddly, it makes all the difference. ¡Viva México!

Method

  1. To prepare the walnut halves, place in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and peel off the membrane. A pointed utensil makes this easier, and patience and a steady hand will help it peel off in larger pieces. Add the walnuts to the milk in a container as you go along, then refrigerate. This can be done the day before.
  2. To prepare the stuffing, place the pork shoulder in a pan and cover with water. Add the garlic, half the onion and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and skim any scum from the surface of the water. Partially cover then reduce to a simmer and cook for around 1½ hours until very tender (or for 30 minutes in a pressure cooker). Let the meat cool in the broth. When cool enough to handle, drain the meat (reserving the stock) and shred.
  3. To prepare the poblano chillies, roast them over a gas flame (i.e held directly over a gas hob) or under a very hot grill. Turn frequently so they are evenly blackened. The idea is to not cook the poblano but to scorch the skin, making it easier to remove. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and carefully make a slit lengthways. Keep the stem intact but remove the seeds. Add salt and vinegar to a bowl of water and soak the chillies in it for 15 minutes. This reduces the heat and brings out the flavour.
  4. Add 1 tbsp oil to a large frying pan. When hot add the remaining half an onion and the shredded pork. Fry stirring frequently until golden (around 10 minutes). Add the raisins, citrus peel, spices and all the fruit except the plantain. Stir well, then add ½ cup of your reserved pork stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the fruit is cooked but not mushy, adding around 1 tsp salt to taste.
  5. While the mixture is simmering, add 2 tbsp of oil to another frying pan and fry chopped almonds until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible. Then fry the diced plantain until golden. Add plantain and almonds to the meat mixture. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool.
  6. Drain the poblano chillies, pat dry, then stuff with the cooled mixture – around 100-200g per poblano. Cover with foil until ready to serve (reheat stuffed poblanos just before serving).
  7. To make the walnut sauce, put the peeled walnuts in a blender with all the other sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning: it should be a little sweet with enough salt to balance the flavour. If using creme fraiche, add bread to blender but stir in the creme fraiche after blending (or you might end up with butter!).
  8. To serve, place reheated stuffed poblano on a warm plate, spoon over sauce and sprinkle over pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley.