Chiles Rellenos en Nogada

Chiles Rellenos with Walnut Sauce, by Susan Schmidt

6 Poblano/Pasilla chili peppers
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup raisins
1 pound of lean ground beef
1 apple, diced
1 peach, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

½ cup flour
3 eggs
Pinch of salt
Canola oil for frying peppers

Walnut Sauce (Nogada) Ingredients:
1 cup almond or soy milk, or mocha mix
½ cup tofu cream cheese
1 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish

1. Toast the chili peppers either directly on the stovetop, or in a non-stick pan or griddle. With a pair of tongs, turn the peppers onto all sides until their skin begins to bubble and peel, then place them in a plastic bag, and set aside for about 15 minutes. This will make the peeling process simpler.

2. While waiting for the peppers to cool, prepare the filling. Heat the tablespoon of canola oil in a large saucepan and add the onions. When they become translucent add the minced garlic and stir for about 2 minutes. Proceed by adding and stirring one at a time, the almonds, pine nuts, apricots, and the raisins. When the raisins begin to puff up add the ground meat, stirring the mixture well and mashing it so that the meat becomes somewhat crumbly. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and stir well after each addition. Lower the heat to obtain a high simmer and cook uncovered for 5-8 minutes, or until meat is cooked through. Cover, remove from heat, and set aside.

3. Remove the peppers from the plastic bag, and using your fingers, gently make a slight slit from stem to tip in each pepper. Under lightly running water, rinse the seeds and toasted skin away. Line the peppers up in preparation for stuffing them.

4. Stuff each pepper with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat filling, close with a toothpick, and set down on a dish. When you have stuffed all of the peppers coat each one in a bit of flour, and set down again.

5. Separate the eggs and with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt, until they become stiff. Add the yolks and beat again.

6. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a small frying pan. Dip each chili pepper in the egg batter, coating them evenly. Fry the peppers two at a time, turning them with a pair of tongs, or two spoons until the coating is golden. Remove from the oil and place them on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Pat them on top with paper towels as well.

7. To make the walnut Sauce (Nogada), place the almond or soy milk, or mocha mix , tofu cream cheese, walnuts, honey, brown sugar and cinnamon in a blender and liquefy to a rich semi-thick sauce.

8. Place the peppers on a nice serving platter, cover with the walnut sauce, and garnish each pepper with a generous portion of pomegranate seeds. Serve hot or warm.

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