Recipe: Rick Bayless's Chiles en Nogada

Makes 4 large servings or 8 small ones, with 6 cups of filling and 2 generous cups of sauce.

Walnuts for the sauce: 

    • 2 cups (7 ounces) walnut halves and pieces, you'll need 36 (about 1 pound) very fresh walnuts in their shells

    • OR 48 mature-green walnuts with fruit still attached (about 4 pounds)

For the chiles and pork-and-fruit stuffing:

    • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes

    • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

    • 1 small white onion, diced

    • 8 very large (about 2 pounds) fresh poblano chiles, choose good-looking chiles with their stems intact if possible

    • 3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    • 2 generous tablespoons raisins

    • 2 generous tablespoons dried mango, candied biznaga cactus or citron, cut into 1/4 -inch dice

    • 1 small pear, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 - inch dice

    • 1 small Jonathan or McIntosh apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 - inch dice

    • 2 medium fresh peaches (or extra pears or apples), peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 - inch dice

    • 1 ripe, medium-small tomato, seeded and roughly chopped

    • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram

    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela

    • Salt, about 1 generous teaspoon

    • 1/3 cup (about 1 3/4 ounces) silvered blanched almonds.

    • 1 ripe, medium-size plantain, peeled and cut into 1/4 - inch dice.

For finishing the sauce:

    • 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk

    • 1 slice firm white bread, crusts removed

    • 1 tablespoon sugar

    • Salt, about 1/2 generous teaspoon

    • 1 teaspoon dry sherry

    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, preferable freshly ground Mexican canela

    • 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream or Mexican crema

For the garnish: 

    • 1 pomegranate

    • 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

1. Peeling the walnuts. If using mature-green walnuts, break away the soft, green, outer layer with your hands. Working with 5 or 6 at a time, crack open the nuts, remove the meats in the largest pieces possible. Drop the walnut pieces into a small pan of boiling water, immediately remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel, then peel: the thin, brown skin that covers each piece will peel off in fairly large pieces if the nuts are very fresh; use a small pick or pointed trussing needle to help lift the skin out of the crevices. Continue until all are peeled. Store the nuts in a tightly-sealed jar, refrigerated, until ready to use.

2. Cooking and shredding the meat. Place the pork in a medium saucepan, cover with heavily salted water, add the garlic and half of the onion. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, skim off any grayish foam that rises to the surface, partially cover and simmer over medium-low until the meat is thoroughly tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

If time permits, let the meat cool in the broth, then remove it with tongs or a slotted spoon and shred it between you fingers or with two forks held back to back. (There will be about 2 cups of meat). Reserve the broth.

3. Roasting the chiles. The open flame method: Place chiles directly over the gas flame or on a medium hot charcoal or gas grill. Roast, turning occasionally, until blistered and blackened on all sides but not soft, about 5 minutes. The broiler method: Lay chiles on a baking sheet set about 4 inches below a preheated broiler. Roast, turning occasionally until blistered and blackened on all sides but not soft, about 10 minutes. Peel the charred skin off the chiles and rinse them if necessary. Make a long slit in the side of each chile and carefully remove the seeds and veins.

4. The stuffing. Before you start cooking, complete all the initial peeling, coring, chopping and so forth of the stuffing ingredients (a little oxidizing of the apples and pears won't spoil the appearance of the dish.)

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a very large (12 inch) skillet over medium-high. When quite hot, add the remaining half of the onion and shredded pork in a thin layer and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off any excess fat.

Presented by

Rick Bayless

Rick Bayless is chef of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, creator of Frontera gourmet foods, cookbook author and host of Mexico -- One Plate at a Time.

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