TODAY we begin our series on peppers. The following recipe is from Marisol de Lafuente who comes from Mexico but now lives in Richmond, Surrey. 'This traditional Mexican dish (peppers in nut sauce) is especially popular on Mexican Independence Day on 15 September,' she writes. 'It is red, white and green: the colours of the Mexican flag.' She has adapted it from the Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz. Mrs de Lafuente receives a bottle of 1991 Wyken Auxerrois from Wyken Vineyards near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Chiles en Nogada

(Serves 6)

Ingredients: For the shell: 6 bell peppers

2 eggs

2oz (60g) seasoned flour

6fl oz (180ml) corn or sunflower oil

For the stuffing: 2tbs olive oil

1lb (450g) lean minced beef

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 eating apple, peeled, cored and diced

1/2 lb (225g) tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

2oz (60g) raisins

8 pimiento-stuffed olives, cut in half

pinch ground cinnamon

4oz (110g) slivered almonds

salt and freshly ground pepper

For the sauce: 3oz (90g) walnuts

1 1/2 oz (45g) blanched almonds

8oz (225g) cream cheese

4fl oz (120ml) milk

pinch sugar

1 pomegranate, peeled, with seeds separated

1tbs chopped parsley

Preparation: Put the peppers under a hot grill. As the skin blisters, turn them to blister all sides. Place them in a covered bowl to steam. Set aside. Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. Heat olive oil in a large heavy frying pan and brown the meat. Add onions and garlic. Cook briefly and add remaining ingredients except the almonds. Season to taste. Simmer uncovered until cooked (about 20 minutes). Mix in slivered almonds. Slip off skins of peppers, then cut the tops off. Remove seeds and pith. Stuff with meat mixture, then secure tops of peppers with a toothpick.

For the sauce, puree the walnuts, almonds, cheese and sugar in a food processor with half of the milk. Add milk as necessary to reach a mayonnaise-like consistency. Set aside.

Heat about 2in oil in a large pan. Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites until they stand in peaks, then fold in the yolks. Dust the stuffed peppers with seasoned flour, dip them in the egg and fry them until golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Arrange on serving dish. Just before serving, pour sauce over them and decorate with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley.

Comments