Friday, November 4, 2011

Recipe: Chiles en Nogada

We got a lot of Poblano Peppers from our garden this year [1] and I needed something to do with them. While I was an LDS missionary [2] in Monterrey, México, I frequently ate peppers stuffed with picadillo. Picadillo is essentially "mincemeat" in the sense of finely chopped meat. In the case of chiles en nogada ("[stuffed] peppers in walnut sauce") it is mincemeat in the fullest sense: finely chopped meat and fruits with spices. Poblano peppers that have been cleaned out and stuffed usually have just a little heat left to them, but not a lot. The one time I had a chile en nogada in México, I had the misfortune of picking a pepper that was still very spicy. So until I made this recipe, I had no idea what a chile en nogada actually tastes like. (Be warned: this took me 3–4 hours to make.)


  • 12 Poblano peppers
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork [3][4]
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 t. salt
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ t. cinnamon
  • ⅛ t. ground cloves
  • ¼ t. thyme
  • ½ t. nutmeg
  • ¼ t. cumin
  • 3 T. raisins [5]
  • 2 T. acitrón, chopped [6]
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pear, peeled and chopped
  • 1 peach, peeled and chopped [7]
  • ½ c. blanched and slivered almonds
  • ½ c. pine nuts
  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • ⅛ t. cinnamon
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 pomegranate, peeled
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped


    Roast the Poblano peppers by broiling them in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn and broil for another 5 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a closed Ziplock bag for twenty minutes, to sweat.

    Run cold water over the peppers and peel off the blackened skin. (Leann says this picture makes the pepper look like a rat.)

    Make a slit down one side and remove the seeds and veins, but be sure to leave the stem—this helps the pepper maintain its shape when you stuff it.


    Brown the ground meat with the onion and garlic.

    Add the salt and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are soft.

    Grind the cinnamon, cloves, thyme, nutmeg, and cumin in a molcajete [8] and then add to the browning meat and cook for another 2–3 minutes.

    Stir in the raisins, acitrón, apple, pear, peach, tomatoes, almonds, and pine nuts and cook for another 5–10 minutes, then remove from heat.


    Place the walnuts on a cookie sheet in an oven set at 350°F for 10 minutes then allow them to cool and rub off as much of the skin as you can.[9]

    Blend together the milk, sour cream, cream cheese, cinnamon, and sugar. Chop the walnuts (if they were whole) and add to the blender and blend until smooth.


    Stuff the peeled, cleaned peppers with the picadillo.[10][11] Cover the pepper with nogada and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Because this dish duplicates the colors of the Mexican flag (red, green, and white), it is traditionally eaten on September 16th, the Mexican Independence Day.[12]


    [1] See my post Summer Garden. Most of our peppers weren't actually big enough for stuffing. So after roasting them, I just chopped them up, stirred them in with some picadillo, and poured nogada over the top. Store-bought Poblano peppers (often incorrectly labelled pasilla peppers) should be large enough to stuff.

    [2] For those who are unsure why Latter-day Saints (Mormons) go on missions, I recommend you visit here and here, where you can learn more about LDS beliefs concerning sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you have more questions, ask and maybe I'll do a full post on the topic.

    [3] If you don't want to use two different types of meat, then just use 2 lb. pork.

    [4] If you want to be authentic, then you'll buy the meat, boil it, and chop it yourself. But given everything else you have to do to make this dish, I felt lazy and bought ground meat.

    [5] I don't like raisins, so I substituted with craisins.

    [6] Acitrón is candied biznaga cactus (Ferocactus spp.). I wasn't able to find any, so I substituted with candied pineapple.

    [7] Some recipes also call for plantains.

    [8] A molcajete is a Méxican mortar and pestle made of stone. If (like me) you don't have a molcajete you can simply put them in a small glass or ceramic condiment bowl and mash them with the back of a large spoon.

    [9] I found that rubbing 15–20 at a time together between my hands was just as effective as rubbing them individually, but much faster. (Your hands will get pretty dirty, though—see the picture above.) Don't be a perfectionist. The more skin you get off, the whiter your sauce will be, but there is no other payoff.

    [10] At this point some people bathe the pepper in whipped egg whites and then fry them.

    [11] You can prepare the peppers and picadillo in advance. When you're ready to eat them, simply place them, covered, in an oven at 250°F for a few minutes, until warm.

    [12] You can learn more at my recipe for pozole, here.

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