This is the second week of our cooking series, “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words. This week features Gilberto, who decided to cook Chiles en Nogada, a traditional Mexican dish with his mom.
Cooking with my mother isn’t something that I do all that often. In my family we have this mindset that one person – either my mom or my dad — cooks for the other members. And although food is very much a uniting force in my family and in Mexican culture as a whole, cooking is a solitary activity in our home. Nonetheless, my mom and I both found it very different and enjoyable to have someone in the kitchen to chop and chat with.
My family had debated for a while what we were going to cook for dinner since we all had to eat it that night. After much deliberation between my parents and me, we finally decided on Chiles en Nogada. It is a take on another Mexican dish called Chiles Rellenos, which means Stuffed Peppers in Spanish. My mom has made Chiles Rellenos many times but she never actually tried Chiles en Nogada, so she had to call my grandmother, who still lives in Mexico, to get the recipe. My mom told me that as a child, she and her brothers would always have this when there was a big celebration in her neighborhood in Mexico City. The dish is made traditionally in the month of September around the time of Independence Day. The colors of the dish represent each of the three main colors of the Mexican flag: the green poblano chiles are stuffed with ground meat, chopped fruit and spices and dressed with a creamy walnut sauce and topped with red pomegranate seeds. There’s a real patriotic connection to the dish, according to my grandmother, and it means a lot to the people of Mexico. — Gilberto A.
Recipe for Chiles en Nogada by Gilberto’s grandmother, Guillermina
- 5 green bell peppers (or Poblano if you can find them)
For the stuffing:
- 1 Spoonful of Vegetable Oil
- 1 Diced Onion
- 2 diced garlic cloves
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 2 peeled tomatoes without seeds
- 1 diced plantain
- 1 diced apple (of your choice)
- 1 diced peach
- 1 diced pear
- 7 to 8 olives
- ¼ cup of almonds
- ¼ cup of raisins
- 1 whole clove
- ¼ spoon of salt
For the sauce:
- 1 cup of sour cream
- ½ bar of cream cheese
- 2 cups of walnuts
- ½ cup of whole milk
- ¼ spoonful of cinnamon
- ½ cup of pomegranate seeds
Toast each pepper individually over an open flame. Put them inside a plastic back to make them sweat for 30 minutes. Take them out of the bag and peel off the skin.
Mix in the diced pears, peaches, apples, and plantain into one bowl. Preheat pot on low heat for 15 minutes. Add ground beef and onions into pot. Keep on low heat and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in fruit mixture as well as the olives, tomatoes, cloves, and garlic cloves. Turn the heat off and put it into another container. Mix in salt and almonds.
Add all ingredients except the pomegranate seeds into a blender. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds.
Cut a small slit in each pepper on one side and with a small spoon, gently fill the pepper with the meat stuffing. Pour the walnut sauce on top and garnish with pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!