Seasonal Dish: Chiles en Nogada
If you happen to be in the city during the last weeks of August or first half of September you may stumble into this unique dish in most menus.
Chiles en Nogada (which literal translation would be chillies in walnut sauce) are one of the most Baroque, patriotic and visually appealing dishes of Mexico and it’s native of the state of Puebla.
There are many stories and legends behind its origin but the most accepted (and romantic) version says the dish first appeared in 1821 when the nuns at the Santa Monica convent in Puebla, with the excuse of the arrival of San Agustín the Iturbide to sign the Declaration of Independence, had to come up with a special dish and they came up with the chiles because those were the only ingredients they had laying around.
This is a very seasonal dish with lots of ingredientes only available right at the end of summer like apples, pears, peaches and more importantly walnuts and pomegranate seeds.
In the filling you would normally find ground meat, onions, bay leaves, raisins, almonds, pine nuts and a certain kind of cactus called Biznaga in its candied version. And if you were a strict follower of Puebla’s original recipe, you would have to chop and combine all fruits, spices and meats and fry them. Then stuff a grilled and peeled Poblano pepper with the mix, dip the chili in egg, fry, and cover it with a cheese, cream, sherry and walnut sauce. Finally top with pomegranate seeds and a few parsley leaves.
That is the main idea behind the dish, but of course recipes may vary from one cook to another and so does the price, which can range from $180 up to $350 and it’s pretty much only about the quality (and quantity) of the ingredients or the reputation of the place.
Nunery Las Clarisas
This is the only Chile en Nogada that I got to try within the state of Puebla. The whole story of how I got to try it deserves its own post (I’ll try to upload it soon). The chili was battered, the sauce was heavy on the sherry and a little bit sweet but it was my absolute favorite filling: the amount of perfectly chopped fruit was the same as the amount of meat in it, making it way more different and interesting than any other chili I’ve ever tried (In fact, the recipe on this post is based on this proportion).