North of San Francisco, after crossing the majestic Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County, is the beautiful City of Tiburon.
Tiburon has a picturesque, cozy, little downtown. Among downtown restaurants specializing in exotic cuisines is Guaymas, a Mexican restaurant. The restaurant offers a delectable menu, but the one dish I order every time is Chiles en Nogada, made with chicken meat, served with fried rice and black beans.
Chiles en nogada (chiles in walnut sauce) is a dish from Mexican cuisine, one of the most festive dishes connected with Mexico’s Independence Day. Roasted poblano chiles are filled with picadillo/fillings, a mixture usually containing shredded meat (pork or beef), seasonal fruits and spices, topped with a walnut-based cream sauce, nogada, and garnished with pomegranate seeds, giving it the three colors of the Mexican flag: green chiles, white nogada and red pomegranate. This dish is a treat for both eyes and palate.
The traditional chile en nogada is from the city of Puebla. The dish was prepared for the first time to entertain Emperor Don Agustín de Iturbide when he came to Puebla after he was declared as Agustín I in 1821. For this reason, the dish is a source of pride for the people of Puebla.
Perfect seasonal availability and late summer fruits such as pomegranates, apples, pears, peaches and walnuts, make this a traditional seasonal dish in August to the first half of September, when national independence festivities begin.
Chiles en Nogada
I do not know Guaymas’ recipe. This recipe is a result of my research… with a few of Fae’s twists!
4 large, fresh chiles poblanos (no substitute)
—Warning: Chile poblano may be quite spicy hot. Your discretion is advised!
1 lb/450 gram chicken – boneless/skinless breast meat
1 medium onion, halved; one-half finely chopped
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
½ apple peeled, cored and chopped
½ pear peeled, cored and chopped (use compote, if fresh not available)
1 peach peeled, seeded/cored and chopped (use compote, if fresh not available)
1 small chile-Serrano, finely-chopped (or 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper)
2 Tbsp raisins
½ tsp tomato paste (or 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped)
¼ tsp cumin
1 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp orange marmalade
2 Tbsp walnuts or pecans, finely-chopped (preferably roasted)
1 cup walnuts
1½ Tbsp raisins
¾ cup ‘warm’ milk (if sauce is too thick, add 1 Tbsp of milk at a time while blending, till preferred thickness)
¼ cup heavy cream (or 2 Tbsp sour cream)
dash (1/8 tsp) cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
1~2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
TO PREPARE THE MEAT
- Place chicken in a medium saucepan with un-chopped half onion, cover with water and cook on high. Once boiled, lower the heat and simmer until fully-cooked and still a few tablespoons of liquid left. When cooled, cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
TO PREPARE THE CHILES POBLANOS
- Put oven rack on the highest shelf, closest to broiler elements. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Line chiles on the sheet and turn oven broiler on.
- Broil chiles until the outer layer of skin is blistered and almost burning. Rotate them every few minutes for even skin burning. This process also cooks the chiles. When done, put them in a dish, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. This process also helps the chiles to cook a bit more in the steam –and- will help to better peel.
- While chiles are cooling, prepare the picadillo /fillings**
- After chiles are cooled, gently peel skin off. If there are no slits already on the chiles due to cooking, slice each chile along one side, lengthwise, gently remove seeds and veins. However, keep the tops of the chiles intact (don’t lift the chile by its top stem or it will tear off). If seeds are too difficult to clean, gently hold each chile in the palm of your hand under running, lukewarm water. Put them back in the dish and set aside. (Chiles will be reconstructed after they are stuffed).
**TO PREPARE THE PICADILLO/FILLINGS/
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, saute onion and once translucent, add garlic, then stir and fry for one more minute.
- Add cooked chicken with its liquid, and all ingredients of picadillo /fillings –except marmalade and walnuts. Mix together, reduce heat and let mixture meld until liquid is absorbed/evaporated (15 minutes). Stir a couple of times while cooking. Through this process, the chicken meat gets shredded, which is alright.
- Remove from heat, add marmalade and walnuts, mix well and let it cool enough so it can be handled/shaped into four meat balls (in sizes/shapes of the chiles).
- Place meat balls in chiles, cover and turn over onto oven-safe serving dish(s).
- Place the rack in the middle shelf of the oven and preheat oven to 200~250F (100~120C) and place chile dishes in oven to keep warm.
TO PREPARE NOGADA/WALNUT SAUCE
- It is best to make sauce when ready to serve.
- Place all ingredients in a “blender” and process until they become a smooth, semi-thick sauce. Pour over warm chile, garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve!