Mexican Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Walnut Sauce
Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Walnut Sauce is one of the most relevant traditional Mexican dishes that have turned into an almost sacred ritual of Mexican Cuisine; I would even say it is the hallmark of “special occasions”, in what food celebrations are concerned, because of its unique flavors and exotic composition.
The dish has gained fame as a very complicated hard day of labor but the truth is that one can chose to complicate it and make it as hard work as can be, or, take it easy and make it basic, much more simple and equally delicious; stuffed poblano peppers with walnut sauce will always be an elegant, festive and beautiful dish.
I wanted to post my basic “every cook can make” stuffed poblano peppers with walnut sauce recipe because Mexico has just celebrated its Independence Anniversary (16th September), commonly celebrated with this dish. Most Mexican restaurants will have it on the menu during August – September, precisely pomegranate’s season.
Every granny, cook or Mexican Chef has his own recipe, the difference lies mainly in the range of dried and fresh fruit added to the filling. Some recipes use fresh peaches, apples, pears, bananas, dried apricots, raisins, all of them together, a couple of them, some mixture of dried and fresh fruit, on an on…… the combinations are endless. I personally don’t like my stuffed Poblano Peppers to get too sweet -exactly what happens when you add a lot of fruit- thus, I choose only the combo of raisins and candied bishop’s weed, which is one of the very characteristic traditional ingredients of the dish. Feel free to choose which ever fruit or fruit combination you prefer. If you can’t find bishop’s weed where you live, substitute it with any one of the fruits I enlisted above, used commonly in other recipes.
Supplies for this Recipe
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About Bishop's Weed
Bishop's weed (in Spanish, "biznaga") is a spherical cactus that grows in the northern arid states of Mexico. It was of great value to the pre-Hispanic Mexica culture that populated this area, which utilized it for medical, religious and nutritional purposes. During this period, the Mexicas used the bishop's weed pulp and flower (in its natural form) as an ingredient for many food preparations. It wasn´t until the colonial era, with the confectionary techniques the Spanish brought with them, that the pulp of the bishop's weed was used in its candied version and incorporated into festive Mexican dishes.
Consequently, the candied bishop's weed is the pulp of the spherical cactus known as bishop's weed, which has been crystallized with sugar to attain a creamy-yellowish candy, soft on the inside and firm on the outside (see picture above).
The bishop's weed pulp and flower are no longer eaten, but the candied bishop's weed (in Spanish "acitrón") is still used in traditional Mexican cuisine including savory dishes, as in the case of Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Walnut Sauce, and sweet bakery.
Another Variation of Stuffed Chilies with Walnut Sauce
This is the famous Mexican Chef Patricia Quintana's version of the traditional dish from the Gourmet Channel for Latin America (in Spanish); an example of a much more sophisticated and difficult recipe.
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12 large Poblano Peppers
1 tablespoon oil
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/3 cup onion finely chopped
¼ kilo (9 ounces) ground beef
¼ kilo (9 ounces) ground pork
1½ cup roasted peeled tomatoes chopped (or you can peel them by dipping them for 1 minute in boiling water, let them cool down and the skin comes easily off)
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup candied bishop’s weed (if you are going to substitute this ingredient for another fruit, add a bit more than ¼ cup because candied bishop’s weed is extremely sweet)
250g / 9 ounces blanched almonds chopped
½ liter fresh sweet cream
3 tablespoons brown sugar
200g / 7 ounces walnuts
4 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 ½ cups pomegranate kernels
Roast the peppers and place them in a closed plastic bag for 2 hours, this will cook them and enable you to take their skin of easily. Peel the peppers and make a length-wise cut to remove the veins and seeds. At this point the Poblano Peppers are cooked and ready to be stuffed.
Blend lightly the cream with sugar and nuts to a point where you still have some tangible pieces of nut.
Fry the garlic and onion with the tablespoon of oil in a screaming hot pan until it becomes transparent, add the meat and season with salt. Let the meat cook for a while. The meat should change color and release its juices. Let it stand over low heat until these juices have been reduced to half. Add the tomato, stir and let cook for another 10 minutes. Taste and season again if it needs more salt. Add the candied bishop’s weed and raisins. Season with pepper. Cook with lid on for some 10 more minutes. Add almonds and cook for the last 10 minute with lid on. Remove from fire.
Stuff the Poblano Peppers with the preparation and arrange them in a serving dish.
Spread the nut sauce over the peppers and sprinkle with pomegranate kernels and parsley. Serve cold.
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