Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Like a Mexican This Year!
Cinco de Mayo is More Than Just a Day to Get Borracho in a Mexican Restaurant… Why Not Celebrate It This Year like the Mexicans Do?
A true test of a Mexican restaurant’s dedication to regionality, as well as seasonality (unfortunately… as I would love to have it year-round) is Chiles en Nogada, a dish that many would call the “national dish” of Mexico.
To make a long story interminable, the dish was “invented” in the town of Puebla in 1821 by Augustinian nuns of the Santa Monica convent to honor Agustin de Iturbide, the commander of the Mexican army who had fought in the battle for Mexico’s independence from France. The treaty that granted Mexico this independence was signed in Veracruz and on his way back to Mexico City, de Iturbide was treated by the nuns with a dish using local and seasonal ingredients, called chiles en nogada, which means chile (in this case, a Poblano pepper ) in walnut sauce.
The dish has the colors of the Mexican flag in it… red from the seeds of the pomegranate; white from the walnut sauce; and green from the Poblano chile. The period of time that the dish is served in Mexico, as well as in Houston at Hugo’s Regional Mexican Cuisine (1600 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 77006, 713-524-7744) and Pico’s Mex-Mex (5941 Bellaire Blvd Houston, TX 77081, 713-662-8383) is determined by the availabity of the fresh pomegranates.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo like a Mexican this year and make plans to enjoy great Margaritas, Mexican Cerveza and Chiles en Nogada on Cinco de Mayo.
I offer below the recipe for Hugo’s version of Chiles en Nogada. Pico’s is equally tasty, but I have never been able to get Arnaldo to commit his recipe to the written word for me:
RECIPE: Chiles en Nogada
4 cups pork stock or water
3 tablespoons corn oil
2 roasted tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 pound fresh peaches, large dice, skin on
1 pound fresh Washington Red apples, large dice, skin on
1 pound fresh Bosc pears, large dice, skin on
1 large ripe plantain, large dice, skinned
1/3 cup raisins, whole
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons sugar
8 large poblano peppers, carefully roasted, peeled and seeded keeping stems attached
2 cups white flour for dredging pork
1 tablespoon salt for dredging pork mixture
Seeds of 2 ripe, fresh pomegranates for final garnish. (about 8-10 seeds on top of each pepper
For the pork mixture:
Stuff the prepared peppers with the pork mixture, being extra careful not to tear them. When the sauce has been made and the peppers stuffed and ready to serve, dredge the peppers in flour seasoned with salt.
3 cups milk
Sauté the floured, stuffed peppers in corn oil and finish them in a 325-degree oven for 20 minutes, carefully turning them from time to time. Arrange the 8 peppers on your serving platter. Pour the cold walnut sauce over the peppers and garnish with the pomegranate seeds. Serve with white rice if desired.