Chiles en nogada all year round at La Encantada

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There's at least one place in town where they serve this holiday dish all year round. (WLS)

Friday is Mexican Independence day, which means one dish will be served all over the country, including many restaurants here in Chicago.

It's called "chiles en nogada," and there's at least one place in town where they serve this holiday dish all year round.

The chile refers to a poblano, while the nogada refers to the sauce. The dish is a patriotic one, conjuring images of the Mexican flag and at one Mexican restaurant in Humboldt Park, they have plenty of practice by the time Independence Day rolls around.

Unlike most Mexican cooks in Chicago, Irma Enriquez doesn't wait until Mexican Independence Day to make her chiles en nogada, because at her family's restaurant, La Encantada, near Humboldt Park, she makes the patriotic dish year-round and says it was originally created by nuns.

"They wanted to create something patriotic, that represents our flag - green, white and red," said Enriquez.

She always begins by dry roasting poblano chiles on the stove.

"The most difficult is roasting the peppers and cleaning them," she said.

The skin is rubbed off with a towel. Then the filling is prepared; usually ground beef with an assortment of fruits, as well as almonds and cashews.

"I do it with ground beef and fresh fruit - apple, pear and peaches," she said.

Once the poblano is stuffed, it's blanketed in a thick, white walnut sauce. Finally, pomegranate seeds - or, if they can't be found, then chopped red peppers. Served with rice and beans, it's a hearty dish, named in part for the unique sauce typically only seen once a year.

"Because the walnut tree is called nogal and that's how came the name, the sauce," said Enriquez.

In his Extra Course, Steve checks out another of their under-the-radar dishes: The corn soup with roasted poblanos.
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Steve checks out an under-the radar dish: The corn soup with roasted poblanos.

La Encantada
3437 W North Ave.
(773) 489-5026
Related Topics:
foodhungry houndmexicoChicago - Humboldt Park
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