Guaymas Restaurant in Tiburon is my favorite Mexican restaurant in Northern California and their Chile Poblano is the best item on the menu. It is a green poblano chili stuffed with a picadillo and covered in a walnut creme sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. I have loved this dish for years and and finally found the recipe in Diana Kennedy’s The Cuisines of Mexico. Guyamas’ version uses a ground chicken picadillo, while Diana Kennedy’s version uses a pork picadillo. “Chiles en Nogada” (chilies in walnut sauce) is traditionally made with pork and is a specialty of Puebla. According to Ms. Kennedy,
The recipe is said to have been concocted by the grateful people of Puebla, who were giving a banquet in honor of Don Agustin de Iturbide’s saint’s day, August 28 in 1821. He and his followers had led the final revolt against Spanish domination; as self-proclaimed emperor he had just signed the Treaty of Cordoba. All the dishes at the banquest were concocted of ingredients of the color of the Mexican flag; in this dish were the green chilies, the white sauce, and the red pomegranate seeds.
This dish is a bit involved, but the effort is worth it. It really is an extraordinary blend of flavors. And if you ever get to Guyamas Restaurant in Tiburon, Mill Valley California, by all means order it! You won’t be disappointed.
Chiles en Nogada (Chilies in Walnut Sauce) Recipe
You must start this dish one day ahead by soaking the walnuts for the nogada sauce overnight.
- 2 lbs of boneless pork
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 Tbsp salt, or to taste
- 6 Tbsp of lard or the fat from the broth
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- The cooked meat (about 3 cups - note if you use more than 3 cups, you will need to increase the amounts of the other ingredients)
- A molcajete (mortar and pestle)
- 8 peppercorns
- 5 whole cloves
- 1/2 inch stick cinnamon
- 3 heaping Tbsp of raisins
- 2 Tbsp blanched and slivered almonds
- 2 heaping Tbsp acitron or candied fruit, chopped
- 2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 1 pear, cored, peeled and chopped
- 1 peach, pitted, peeled and chopped
1 Cut the meat into large cubes. Put them into the pan with the onion, garlic, and salt and cover with cold water. Bring the meat to a boil, lower the flame and let it simmer until just tender - about 40-45 minutes. Do not over cook. Leave the meat to cool off in the broth.
2 Strain the meat, reserving the broth, then shred or chop it finely and set it aside. Let the broth get completely cold and skim off the fat. Reserve the fat.
3 Melt the lard and cook the onion and garlic, without browning, until they are soft.
4 Add the meat and let it cook until it begins to brown.
5 Crush the spices roughly in the molcajete and add them, with the rest of the ingredients to the meat mixture. (If you don't have a molcajete, you can use the blunt end of a pestle to crush the spices in a bowl.) Cook the mixture a few moments longer.
6 Add chopped peach and pear to the mixture.
- 6 poblano chiles (you MUST use this type of chile)
7 Put the poblano chiles straight into a fairly high flame or under a broiler and let the skin blister and burn. Turn the chiles from time to time so they do not get overcooked or burn right through. (See How to roast chile peppers over a gas flame tutorial using Anaheim chiles.)
8 Wrap the chiles in a damp cloth or plastic bag and leave them for about 20 minutes. The burned skin will then flake off very easily and the flesh will become a little more cooked in the steam. Make a slit in the side of each chili and carefully remove the seeds and veins. Be careful to leave the top of the chili, the part around the base of the stem, intact. (If the chilies are too hot - picante, let them soak in a mild vinegar and water solution for about 30 minutes.) Rinse the chilies and pat them dry.
9 Stuff the chilies with the picadillo until they are well filled out. Set them aside on paper towels.
The Nogada (walnut sauce)
The day before:
- 20 to 25 fresh walnuts, shelled
- cold milk
10 Remove the thin papery skin from the nuts. (Note, these are Diana Kennedy's instructions. I have found it virtually impossible to remove the skins from the fresh walnuts that come from our walnut tree. The above photo shows the sauce which includes the skins. I think it would be creamier without the skins, but what can you do? We found that blanching the walnuts did not help get the skin off. Completely cover the walnuts with cold milk and leave them to soak overnight.
On serving day:
- The soaked and drained nuts
- 1 small piece white bread without crust
- 1/4 lb queso fresco
- 1 1/2 cups thick sour creme (or creme fraiche)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
- Large pinch of cinnamon
11 Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until they are smooth.
To assemble the dish, cover the chilies in the nogada sauce and sprinkle with fresh parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds.