Chiles in walnut cream sauce

I was craving some chiles rellenos. Then I read this lovely post at Rachel Eats about walnuts, and her walnut pesto looked so yummy that the neurons started firing. Then I remembered that there is a traditional chile rellenos dish that uses a walnut cream sauce. After a bit of research I realized I did not want to make that dish, at least not any vaguely authentic version of it. I don’t much care for peaches in my meat.

So I MacGyvered my own version. They were fabulous and I will never make them again, at least not until someone tells me a trick for skinning walnuts that actually works (um, that baking soda thing? sure, it loosened the skins, but it turned the nuts dark and the skins weren’t all that much easier to deal with). I ended up picking the skin out of all those grooves like a crazy person. My self-diagnosed OCD doesn’t need that kind of aggravation.

Chiles rellenos in walnut cream sauce

1 1/2 cups walnut halves

1 cup cream

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

12 large mild green chiles

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or lard

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 pound ground beef

1/4 cup currants or chopped raisins

1/4 cup pitted black olives, minced

1/2 cup sliced almonds

Pomegranate seeds or chopped red onion for garnish

Put walnuts in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water and let sit a few minutes. Drain. Return walnuts to the bowl and cover with boiling water, again letting it sit for a few minutes. Drain walnuts and spread on a kitchen towel. Settle in with a long radio program or a good chat and pick off the skins from the walnuts.

Put the skinned walnuts in a medium bowl and cover them with the cream. Let soak for a few hours or overnight (chill). Whirl in a blender with milk and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Roast and peel chiles (if this process is new to you check out this guide). Once cool, make a slit along the side of each chile and pull out and discard the seeds. Set chiles aside.

In a frying pan over medium-high, heat oil or lard and add onion. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, another minute.

Add beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat as you go, until well browned and cooked through. Add currants and olives. Cover, reduce heat to a maintain a simmer and cook about 5 minutes. Drain off any excess fat and stir in almonds. Add salt to taste.

Heat oven to 350. Let stuffing sit until cool enough to handle. Stuff each chile with the beef mixture. Lay chiles in a baking pan, cover loosely with foil, and bake until hot through, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put walnut cream in a small saucepan and warm over medium low heat.

Serve chiles napped with walnut cream sauce and garnish with pomegranate seeds (traditional and would be amazing, but we had none) or the sad-sack but very tasty purple of the chopped red onion.

You will likely have extra walnut cream sauce. It is delicious spread on toast or tossed with a small bowl of pasta for lunch.