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August 21, 2009

Stunning Timing

Chile en Nogada at Izote Dominic Armato

It wasn't a Oaxacan black mole, but snagging a Chile en Nogada in the immediate wake of Bayless' big win sure felt like excellent timing. For those lamenting the monotony of the various combinations and permutations of tortillas and meat and beans and cheese and thinking that has anything to do with Mexican food, know that this little number -- a poblano chile filled with a spiced pork and fruit picadillo and topped with a creamy, sweet walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds and served cool -- is straight-up traditional Mexican fare. No BS.

(And, P.S., What a freaking awesome dish.)

Hit San Francisco and Mexico City this week, and just like that, the backlog is restored. This is a good thing. Oughta keep this from being purely a Top Chef blog over the next couple of months.

More soon. And if you've never had one of these, do.

What are you waiting for? Go!

Comments

I guess that close up shot cut off the rice on the side!!!

Now that is a little mean.

The painful thing is that for about a quarter of a second, I almost bit.

Through a drug-induced haze (back injury) I think I saw a version of this on Diary of a Foodie today - perhaps made with chicken. It was a show on chiles and it looked beyond wonderful. Similar sauce of nuts, topped with pomegranate seeds and, perhaps, some chocolate. Being made communally in Mexico...don't know where. Now I must learn how to make it!

Susan - I understand that chicken instead of pork is a common variant. I've never heard of chocolate, but I'm a long, long way from being an authority on the subject. I can't say that strikes me as a positive addition, but I've never had it so I can't say.

Lucky Dom! When Patricia Quintana is on, she is amazing. And the chile en nogada happens to be a specialty of hers. As you may know, the chile en nogada has an official season (June, July, and August); it's even set by the national restaurant council. It's because during those months, the poblano chiles, pomegranates, and walnuts are at their seasonal peak in Puebla. During the annual festivities last year, Patricia Quintana herself gave a talk on the importance of the chile en nogada, which apparently dates to 1821. http://www.turismopuebla.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=163%3Atemporada-de-chile-en-nogada&catid=1%3Alatest-news&lang=es

Am now searching for how to make, since I'm not near Mexico, but I have a friend that lives there & of course, there's the internet. Wish Patricia Quintana included a recipe in that article! But I also want Bayless' recipe for black mole ... mmm.

Safe travels.

Mexican reader here. To me, chiles en nogada are the dish that best represent the eclectic and baroque nature of Mexican cuisine... layers and layers of flavor, european and native elements. Well executed, it is delicious. A bad one can get pretty bad though.

I've never seen a chicken one, I imagine it's not to great a deviation, but I think it would end up a tad too bland.
The original has ground pork and beef, mixed with nuts, spices and dried fruit. The walnut sauce has to be made with fresh walnuts (which are hell to peel, one of the reasons this is a luxury dish) and is not too sweet, but not savory either. Never chocolate anywhere, and yes, pomegranate is key.

I am still trying to learn from my mom how to make the picadillo filling, and I have vowed to master this dish one day. Now I am hungry!

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