Chile poblano and pomegranate season: Chiles Rellenos en Nogada

Hello all, Amy here. Every year in the late summer or early fall, I end up with pomegranates and fresh green poblano chiles at the same moment, and need to make Chiles en Nogada. The huge, green (but this time blushing red!) poblano chiles were from Tucson CSA/Crooked Sky Farms and a CSA member brought in the pomegranates from their bush at home.

There are many filling options for chiles rellenos (singular: chile relleno) but I love a traditional picadillo for this dish. I started by cooking ground pork with onion, garlic, and whole cumin. But beef, or a mix of the two, is good, too.

Then I spiced the meat with ground coriander seed, cinnamon, Mexican oregano, tomato, raisins, slivered almonds and green olives.

Charring fresh chiles over an open flame smells so wonderful! After evenly blackening the chiles, place them in a paper bag or saucepan with a lid as they cool and sweat off their skins. Peel without rinsing, as few pieces of skin are not worth watering down the chile’s flavor. While I was already making a mess on the stove top, I roasted a few chiles for other projects. Of course any chile or bell pepper could be used with this filling, so use what you have. Chile poblano, to some people at least, is the fresh version of chile ancho. I always add a disclaimer since chile nomenclature varies, and different chiles get different names and some names are used for different chiles!

Slit each chile and remove the core and seeds while keeping the stem and the rest of the chile as intact as possible. Stuff the chile with the meat.

For the sauce, soak about one cup walnuts in water.

Then drain and liquify in a blender with about one cup Mexican crema or sour cream and half a pound of queso fresco.

Salt to taste and adjust with a little water or more cheese or nuts to taste. Make plenty of this cooling sauce in case one of the chiles is very spicy! Top with sauce immediately before eating and garnish with plenty of pomegranate arils (seeds).

Unlike the fried version, this dish is great served hot, warm or room temperature, which it makes is good to serve a crowd. Another time I’ll post my great grandmother’s battered and fried version that is famous for a reason, but they need to be eaten as they are made. Also, when you have pomegranates, make this one. !Buen provecho!



A Southwest Twist on Mac ‘n Cheese

Green Chile Macaroni gives a Southwest twist to everybody's comfort food.

Green Chile Macaroni gives a Southwest twist to everybody’s comfort food.

My husband is good at making breakfast — coffee, fruit, toast. And he can put together a salad if I have plenty of veggies in my garden or the fridge. But recently he decided he should learn how to actually cook something, and we decided on macaroni and cheese. From scratch, not out of a box. I looked in all my old standard cookbooks: The Joy of Cooking (both the 1964 and 1997  versions); How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman, and The New Basics by Rosso and Lukins. Ultimately, I decided the best recipe was in my own New Southwest Cookbook. I didn’t devise the recipe; it came from Chef Robert McGrath at the Roaring Forks Restaurant in Scottsdale.

To me the special flavor comes from the poblano chiles. I think they have a better flavor than the typical Anaheims. Frequently, but not always, they are less hot while still giving a great chile flavor. You must roast and puree them first. If you have a grill, roast them there. Otherwise, the broiler on your oven will do. The trick is to the get the skin nicely charred but not to burn the thick juicy chile walls.

These chiles are charred on one side. I have turned them to blacken another side.

These chiles are charred on one side. I have turned them to blacken another side.

Skin is easily removed after steaming.

Skin is easily removed after steaming.

Open chiles and remove seeds.

Open chiles and remove seeds.

Once the seeds are removed, puree the poblanos in a blender or food processor and set them aside.

Put some water to boil for the macaroni. Any shape will do, but I used the classic elbow-shaped. While the water is boiling and then the macaroni is cooking, you will have time to grate the cheese, and chop and saute the red pepper, onion, garlic  and corn. Use can use fresh corn cut from the cob or just canned works also.

Drain the macaroni.

Drain the macaroni.

When the macaroni is tender, return it to the pot and stir in all the ingredients. Last will be the cream. The recipe calls for heavy cream, but I used half-and-half. When I was collecting recipes for The New Southwest Cookbook, I discovered that lots of butter and cream are the professional chefs’ secret ingredients. THAT is why everything they make tastes so good.

Stir in the chile and other vegetables.

Stir in the chile and other vegetables.

Ford tastes for seasoning. It might need salt.

Ford tastes for seasoning. It might need salt.

Here’s the recipe.  It is supposed to be four servings, and it is. But everybody usually wants seconds so doubling the recipe makes sense.

Green Chile Macaroni  (Makes 4 servings)

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup sweet corn kernels

1/4 cup  diced red onion

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 teaspoon corn oil

2 cups  cooked macaroni

1/2  to 3/4 cup puree of roasted, peeled poblano chile

2/3 cup  grated cheese (hot pepper jack, cheddar or mixture)

1/4 cup heavy cream

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste


Sauté the red bell pepper, corn, red onion, and garlic in the oil in a heavy pan.  Add the macaroni, poblano puree, and  cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Fold in the heavy cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Find more great recipes with a Southwest flair in The New Southwest Cookbook, The Prickly Pear Cookbook, and Cooking the Wild Southwest