1. Slice off chile stems. With a spoon or melon baller, reach into chiles to scoop out and discard seeds and white membranes (avoid slitting chiles); set chiles aside. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. In a large frying pan over medium-low heat, toast all the almonds, stirring often, until golden brown and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3. Add oil to pan and increase heat to medium-high. Mince 4 garlic cloves and add to pan along with onion. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add beef, 1 tsp. salt, the cinnamon, cumin, and pepper and cook, breaking up beef with a wooden spoon, until beef is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add raisins and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add bread crumbs, oregano, 1/3 cup toasted almonds, and queso fresco. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes; remove from heat.
4. Carefully pack each chile with filling. Arrange chiles in a large baking pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until chiles are browned and beginning to blister.
5. Meanwhile, make sauce: In a large frying pan over medium heat, bring tomatoes, honey, remaining 4 garlic cloves, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt to a gentle simmer. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup toasted almonds. Transfer to a blender, add 1/2 cup water, and whirl sauce until very smooth, about 1 minute. Drizzle sauce over chiles and serve warm.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
Cooking with chiles
This recipe is best when made with New Mexico chiles, preferably northern varieties such as Chimayo. Anaheim chiles, which are a New Mexico variety, are widely available throughout the West and make a fine substitute for northern green chiles—roast them over a stovetop burner or under a broiler to blacken the skins. (And if you're sensitive to chiles, wear gloves when handling.) Canned green chiles just don't cut it here.
See âÂ€ÂœFinding New Mexico Chiles,âÂ€Â� (below) for mail-order sources.
Finding New Mexico chiles
Native Seeds/SEARCH. Grow northern New Mexico chiles from heirloom seeds. www.nativeseeds.org or 866/622-5561.
New Mexican Connection. We couldn't find a reliable mail-order source for roasted northern green chiles, but we did find good roasted Sandia chiles here. $56 for 5 lbs., including shipping; www.newmexicanconnection.com or 800/933-2736.
Santa Fe Farmers Market. The best place to find northern New Mexico chiles, both fresh and dried. Various locations and hours; contact www.santafefarmersmarket.com or 505/983-4098.