How to Choose a Dish to Deconstruct
In my opinion, the dishes that are best to deconstruct are the ones that involve a fairly complex process, have amazing flavors and distinct ingredients, and may include ingredients that you can’t or won’t eat (but which can easily be removed or substituted).
One dish that I think is worthy of deconstruction is Chiles en Nogada, a traditional Mexican dish from Puebla. It is basically chile peppers stuffed with minced meat, spices – including cinnamon, and fruit and then covered with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds.
The flavor combination may sound odd, but it is amazing and the reason I try to deconstruct it! It’s also gorgeous. The colors of the ingredients reflect those of the Mexican flag: red, green, and white:
I love the dish, but it takes quite a bit of time to make it. So, I break it down.
First, as a type of breakfast hash. And now, as a soup.
So how did I do it?
How I Deconstruct a Recipe
Whenever I want to deconstruct a recipe, I look at its core components and try to identify essential ingredients to leave in versus superfluous ingredients that I can leave out, as well possible substitutions for the ingredients that should be there but which I can’t eat. I also try to figure out the easiest way to prepare the dish – or some variation of it – without hurting the dish or its presentation.
- Ground meat
- Chile peppers – mild heat
- Spices – thyme and cinnamon, maybe a pinch or oregano
- Sweetness – a bit of dried fruit
- Aromatics – onions and garlic
- Walnut sauce
- Typical chiles en nogada use cream or milk in the walnut sauce – the walnuts are creamy enough on their own (although they do not have the richness of cream)
- Lots of fresh and dried fruit – too much for my taste
- Pomegranates and cilantro – lovely and tasty, but not essential
Easiest Way to Prepare:
To prepare typical chiles en nogada, you will roast and skin the chile peppers – or maybe batter and fry them and possibly soak the walnuts (which I recommend if you have the time) and dried fruit overnight before using them. I prefer to chop things up and combine them all together. Soup and breakfast hash both allow me to do that.
I’m sure you want to see the recipe, so here you go. If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think of these unique flavors.
Reinventing Chiles en Nogada
This recipe includes the essentials plus a couple of extras – like stock and sweet potatoes. All ingredients, except the walnuts, are chopped, sautéed, and simmered. The walnuts are toasted and then blended with a bit of soup stock before being added to the soup.
- 1 Tbsp of olive oil or bacon fat
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (or more if you like)
- 2½ cups raw, minced pork (~3/4 pound)
- 1 poblano or pasilla chile pepper, de-seeded and chopped
- 1 small yam, skinned and chopped into ½” pieces
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ raisins
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp chile powder
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 cups soup stock
- ½ cup walnuts, soaked or toasted
- Pre-heat soup pot to medium-high heat. Add fat to pot, melt and coat bottom of pot.
- Add onion, garlic, and chile peppers. Sauté for 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat until meat is done.
- In a separate pan on medium-high heat, cook minced pork until done, occasionally breaking it up into smaller pieces. Drain oil, if desired. Add the pork to the onion mixture.
- Add 3 cups of the stock, as well as the yams, tomatoes, raisins, and spices to the pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the remaining cup of stock and the walnuts to your blender. Puree until creamy. Stir walnut cream into soup when the 15 minutes are up.
- Remove from heat and let soup sit covered for a couple of minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds and cilantro, if you like.
Do you have a dish that you have recreated or reinvented in some interesting way?
This recipe shared on Sunday Night Soup Night