Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chiles en Nogada Vegetariano

This is the final recipe from the book "Like Water For Chocolate"

The first phrase that comes to my mind about this recipe is "fools rush in where angels dare to tread." While this recipe is not as complicated as one might think, it does take a lot of advance planning and preparation. I think I ended up going to four different stores to get what I needed.

First, I need to practice some basic mexican cooking procedures to speed things up. In particular, how to quickly roast chiles and remove the seeds without tearing them. I charred the chiles by placing them over the gas burners on the stove. Another "art" is how to make a nut sauce. I'm not sure if I did it correctly, since I've never had it before.

What I can say is that the combination of the smoky chiles, the sweet and savory stuffing, the creamy nut sauce and the crunchy, sweet pomegranate was ravashing to the palate. I can understand the magical effect this dish had on the guests at Esperanza and Alex' wedding.

First - do all the prep work: char the chiles and remove the skins, chop all the ingredients in advance. Mix the orange, apple with 1/2 teapoon of salt to prevent discoloration.

Second - prepare the nut sauce. I would recommend adding at least 1 tsp of white pepper and salt to this sauce, then taste and add more if needed. I tried to use a food processor, but you really need to use a blender for this one.

Lastly, prepare the filling: fry the onions first, then add the tomato, the fruit, then finally the soy strips, almonds and cumin. Cook until all of the liquid has evaporated and set aside. My tomato was somewhat bland, so I added 2 tbs of ketchup which also provided a bit of sweetness.

Make sure any side dishes are ready to serve, then prepare the chiles. Arrange them on the serving platter and stuff each one. When all chiles have been stuffed pour about 1/4 cup of sauce over each, then garnish with pomegranate seeds.

I guarantee your guests will be raving about this dish for months. I would recommend doing a trial run before serving to the in-laws :-)

And remember, for the chiles to be there best, you must cook them with love!

The chiles:
5 large fresh chile poblano

Roasted, skinned, and seeds removed
(note: use gloves to remove the seeds)

The filling:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (or use shallots - they provide a hint of garlic)
4 oz almonds, finely chopped
8 oz soy beef strips
8 oz soy chicken strips
2 tsp cumin
1 tomato, chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
½ orange (remove seeds and chop)
1 tsp of salt

The sauce:
4 oz queso fresco, crumbled
4 oz walnuts (I also used some cashews)
1/4 cup heavy cream
¼ milk
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
Blend at high speed in blender, add additional milk if needed.

The garnish:
The seeds of 1 pomegranate

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