This Chiles en Nogada Recipe is made with poblano peppers, ground beef, red onion, garlic, tomatoes and pomegranate seeds.
Chiles en Nogada is a traditional Mexican dish created to represent the green, white and red colors of the Mexican flag. My parents currently live in Mexico City, and every time I go visit, this is the first thing I order. The combination of the roasted pepper, meat filling, walnut sauce and the bursting pomegranate seeds in your mouth is everything you need.
What sets Chiles en Nogada apart and gives it its name is the creamy walnut sauce, called "nogada" in Spanish, that is poured over the stuffed chiles. The sauce is made from blending walnuts with cream, milk, cheese (usually queso fresco), and a touch of sugar and cinnamon. The sauce's light ivory color symbolizes purity and is reminiscent of the snowy peaks of the nearby Popocatepetl volcano.
- What are Chiles en Nogada?
- Why you will love this recipe
- Chiles en Nogada Recipe Ingredients
- How to make Chiles en Nogada
- What to serve with Chiles en Nogada
- Chiles en Nogada Recipe Variations
- How to store Chiles en Nogada
- Chiles en Nogada Recipe Top tips
- Beef Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Food safety
What are Chiles en Nogada?
Chiles en Nogada is a traditional Mexican dish with a fascinating history. It is a festive and iconic recipe that is typically served during the months of August and September, particularly around Mexican Independence Day (September 16th). The dish is known for its unique combination of flavors and colors, representing the three colors of the Mexican flag: green, white, and red.
The dish consists of poblano chiles that are stuffed with a mixture of picadillo, a sweet and savory filling made from ground meat (often beef or pork), fruits such as apples and pears, and various spices. The picadillo is cooked with onions, garlic, and often includes other ingredients like nuts and raisins, resulting in a delightful blend of tastes.
Why you will love this recipe
- Delicious Flavors: The combination of tender, juicy chicken infused with zesty lemon and aromatic herbs, along with the perfectly roasted potatoes, creates a mouthwatering and flavorful dish that appeals to a wide range of tastes.
- Easy to Make: This recipe is straightforward and requires minimal prep work. With simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, it's accessible to both beginner and experienced cooks.
- Versatility: The recipe allows for various customizations and adaptations, such as adding different herbs, spices, or vegetables, making it versatile and adaptable to personal preferences.
Chiles en Nogada Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Poblano peppers
- Ground beef
- Red onion
- Diced tomatoes
- Onion powder
- Pomegranite seeds
- Cream cheese
- Crema Mexicana
- Heavy cream
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Chiles en Nogada
Roast the Poblano Peppers. At 400 degrees F, roast the poblano peppers for 20 minutes, occasionally turning with tongs. Place the peppers in a bowl covered with a clean towel or a plate for 20 minutes extra. The skin will blister off the pepper so then take the skin off, cut the pepper on one side and take the seeds out! Wash under the sink to get some of those difficult seeds out. Leave the stem on. Place them on a paper towel.
Make the filling. Heat oil in a large skillet over low heat and add the onion, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic until brown and then add the meat, on medium heat. As the meat cooks, with a wooden spoon break apart and keep stirring for 6 minutes. Add the ground cloves, onion powder, cinnamon, diced tomatoes, and salt and pepper as needed. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly before stuffing the peppers.
Combine the walnuts, cream cheese, milk, crema mexicana, and the heavy cream into a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate the liquid in Tupperware for 1 hour.
Assemble the peppers. Stuff the chiles with the meat mixture.
Pour the walnut sauce over the pepper. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and cilantro.
Hint: When you roast the poblano peppers, make sure to let them sit in a bowl with a towel over it to make it easier to peel off the skin.
What to serve with Chiles en Nogada
- Arroz Mexicano (Mexican Rice): This classic Mexican rice dish is flavored with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and sometimes carrots and peas. It's a perfect side dish to soak up the delicious walnut sauce from the Chiles en Nogada.
- Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans): Creamy refried beans, made from cooked and mashed pinto or black beans, provide a hearty and flavorful accompaniment to the stuffed chiles.
- Ensalada de Nopales (Cactus Salad): A refreshing salad made from sliced nopales (cactus pads) cooked until tender and mixed with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and a tangy lime dressing. It adds a fresh and vibrant touch to the meal.
- Tortillas: Warm corn or flour tortillas are always a hit with any Mexican meal. They can be used to scoop up the picadillo filling or to enjoy with the walnut sauce.
- Mexican Street Corn (Elote): Grilled corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime juice is a popular street food in Mexico and makes a tasty and fun side dish. Check out my Mexican Street Corn Recipe.
Poblano peppers: Poblano peppers are key for this recipe. If they are not at your local grocery store, they usually sell them at a hispanic grocery store.
Ground beef: I love using ground beef for the filling. You could use ground chicken or ground pork, but traditionally this dish is eaten with ground beef.
Onion: I used a red onion as most Mexican dishes use red onions. You could use a white or yellow onion as well.
Tomatoes: You can use fresh diced tomatoes, but to cut down prep time I like using from a can. You can also opt for the diced tomatoes with peppers in them!
Garlic: You can use fresh garlic for best flavor or garlic from a jar.
Chiles en Nogada Recipe Variations
- Vegetarian Chiles en Nogada: Replace the meat-based picadillo with a vegetarian version. Use cooked lentils, mushrooms, or a mix of vegetables like zucchini, carrots, and bell peppers as the filling. The rest of the preparation remains the same, including the walnut sauce and garnishes.
- Seafood Chiles en Nogada: Instead of using ground meat, try using cooked and flaked fish or shrimp as the stuffing. This seafood version brings a unique and delightful taste to the dish, especially when paired with the creamy walnut sauce.
- Nut-Free Nogada: For those with nut allergies, omit the walnuts from the nogada sauce. You can replace them with a mix of cream, milk, and a touch of cream cheese or Greek yogurt for a creamy texture.
- Fruit-Infused Picadillo: Enhance the sweetness and complexity of the filling by incorporating more fruits. Add diced pineapple, peaches, or dried fruits like apricots and cranberries to the picadillo mixture for a burst of flavor.
- Spicy Nogada: If you enjoy a bit of heat, add some chipotle chili or adobo sauce to the nogada mixture. This will give the dish a smoky and spicy twist.
Check out these Pork Birria Tacos.
- Oven: You'll need an oven to roast the poblano chiles and to bake the filled chiles, if you choose to bake them.
- Stovetop or Grill: To char the poblano chiles, you can use a stovetop gas burner or an outdoor grill. If using a gas burner, you'll need tongs to hold and rotate the chiles over the flame.
- Baking Sheet: A baking sheet or roasting pan will be needed to place the poblano chiles in the oven for roasting.
- Mixing Bowls: You'll need mixing bowls to prepare the picadillo filling and the nogada sauce.
- Cutting Board and Knife: For chopping and preparing the ingredients, you'll need a cutting board and a sharp knife.
- Blender or Food Processor: A blender or food processor is essential to make the creamy nogada sauce with walnuts and other ingredients.
- Skillet or Frying Pan: You'll use a skillet or frying pan to cook the picadillo filling before stuffing it into the chiles.
- Tongs or Gloves: Tongs are useful for handling the hot poblano chiles during charring, and oven-safe gloves can be handy when removing the hot baking sheet from the oven.
- Aluminum Foil (Optional): You may want to use aluminum foil to cover the roasted poblano chiles after charring to steam them slightly, making it easier to remove the skins.
- Paring Knife: A paring knife can be useful for peeling the skins off the roasted chiles.
- Serving Platter: Once the Chiles en Nogada are assembled and ready to be served, a beautiful serving platter is a nice touch for presentation.
How to store Chiles en Nogada
- Refrigeration: If you have leftovers or need to store the prepared Chiles en Nogada, place them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Refrigerate the dish within two hours of preparation.
- Label and Date: If you plan to keep the Chiles en Nogada in the refrigerator for more than a day, label the container with the contents and the date it was stored. This will help you keep track of how long it has been stored.
- Storage Time: Chiles en Nogada can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. After that, the quality may start to decline.
- Freezing (Optional): While Chiles en Nogada is best enjoyed fresh, you can freeze them if you have a large batch or want to preserve them for a longer time. To freeze, place the assembled, but unbaked, stuffed chiles in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. You can also freeze the picadillo and nogada sauce separately. The dish can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Thawing and Reheating: If you froze the Chiles en Nogada, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. To reheat, place the Chiles en Nogada in an oven-safe dish, cover with foil, and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) until heated through.
- Nogada Sauce Separation: The nogada sauce may separate after refrigeration or freezing. If this happens, gently stir or whisk the sauce to recombine the ingredients before reheating.
- Garnishes: It's best to add fresh pomegranate seeds and parsley or cilantro garnish just before serving, as they may lose their freshness and vibrant colors during storage.
Chiles en Nogada Recipe Top tips
- Selecting Poblano Chiles: Choose fresh and plump poblano chiles with smooth and shiny skins. Look for chiles that are approximately the same size to ensure even cooking.
- Char the Chiles Properly: Char the poblano chiles until their skins are blackened and blistered. This process not only imparts a smoky flavor but also makes it easier to remove the skin after roasting.
- Steam the Chiles: After charring the chiles, place them in a covered bowl or wrap them in aluminum foil for a few minutes. The steam will help loosen the skin, making it easier to peel off.
- Remove Seeds and Membranes: When removing the charred skin, gently scrape off the seeds and membranes inside the chiles. This step helps reduce the heat level and makes space for the filling.
- Uniform Stuffing: When filling the chiles, try to distribute the picadillo mixture evenly, ensuring each chile is generously stuffed. Avoid overstuffing, as it may cause the chiles to burst during baking.
- Chill the Sauce: For a thicker and creamier nogada sauce, refrigerate it for a short time before serving. The cold sauce will have a better consistency and adhere nicely to the chiles.
- Handling the Nogada Sauce: Gently spoon the nogada sauce over the stuffed chiles to avoid disturbing the presentation and the filling.
- Fresh Pomegranate Seeds: Use fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish, as they add a burst of color, flavor, and texture. Pre-packaged seeds may lack the same freshness.
- Serving Temperature: Chiles en Nogada can be served cold or at room temperature, but many prefer it slightly chilled. Refrigerate the assembled chiles for about an hour before serving for a refreshing experience.
- Serve with Traditions: Embrace the tradition of serving Chiles en Nogada during Mexico's patriotic season (August-September) or on special occasions to honor its historical significance.
- Make It in Advance: While Chiles en Nogada is best served fresh, you can prepare the components in advance. Roast and stuff the chiles, and make the picadillo and nogada sauce ahead of time, then assemble and serve just before enjoying.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove