Without a doubt, this is one of the most delicious history lessons you'll ever experience.
Chiles en Nogada, which translates literally into "chiles in walnut sauce," is a centuries-old trip back in time to the beautiful early days of Mexico's Puebla. I mean, of course you can skip ahead and read the recipe, but trust me - any dish involving nuns and emperors makes for delicious reading.
Chiles en Nogada is a special "welcome" dish, created in hospitality for Mexico's equivalent of military royalty. The time was the 19th century, and this special dish was invented by the nuns of the Santa Catalina convent of Puebla. It was created to honor Agustin de Iturbide, an artisocrat and military officer who helped bring peace with Spain, and later served briefly as Mexico's emperor.
In honor of the occasion, the nuns assembled a delicate dish of poblano chiles, pomegranate seeds, roasted and stuffed with a picadillo filling of meat, fruit and nuts, then topped with the afore-mentioned creamy walnut sauce. As the Mexican flag had been unveiled not too long before, this dish was as patriotic as it was delicious.
Now, I will warn you. This is slow-food; there is much patient chopping, grinding and assembly to get to the finished masterpiece. But it is a show-stopper, brought to you by the same nuns who gave the world the delicate mole sauce. Lucky guests and family who gets to sample this amazing delicacy!
Recipe excerpted from Douglas Cullen's Mexican Food Journal, a delightful and talented chef committed to the fine cuisines and culture of Mexico. With many thanks!
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