I’ve Mastered Mole! Ole!

7 May 2012 in Recipes

 

Well, actually that statement may be a touch too bold. To truly master mole sauce takes time, a lot of time. It also probably takes many years of trail and error. For those who stick to the standards on the menus of Mexican restaurants and have never heard of or tried mole it is a very complex, rich sauce composed of varying ingredients spanning from spicy to sweet to savory. It is really not comparable to anything else on the menu. More often than not it’s paired with chicken enchiladas and therefore off limits to me, but a few restaurants offer it ladled over cheese enchiladas. Is the sauce itself vegetarian? I have my doubts, but keep them in the back of my mind hidden from view. This conflict will no longer be an issue though because the mole I crafted on Cinco de Mayo was better than anything I’ve had in any restaurant.

If you look up a recipe online I guarantee no two recipes will be alike. Hell, most of them won’t even be similar. You’ll find some extremely simple and easy recipes and others that are insanely complex with twenty or more ingredients (some of which you’ve never heard of) and twenty plus steps. The simple recipes will leave you with a glorified catsup and the complex recipes will have you wandering around multiple grocery stores trying to find some odd dried pepper before spending the rest of the day in the kitchen and the night doing an absurd amount of dishes.

So where do you draw the line? I winged it sampling from three recipes spanning from simple to complex and the result was delicious! To save you the trouble here is what I did, with notes so you can tailor it to your taste buds:

Peppers:
– 2 pasilla/poblano peppers
– broil them in an oven until the skin is blistered/blackened (about 15-20 minutes on each side), place them in an air tight container for five minutes, and then peel the skin off, remove the seeds and dice.
– 2 jalapenos – deseeded and diced
– 1 anaheim pepper – deseeded and diced

Note: You can vary the number and kind of peppers to your liking. I like it spicy and this seemed a touch mild in the end so I added some cayenne pepper. The Jalapenos are the spiciest and the poblano and anaheim more mild. Feel free to use almost any combo of peppers, but whatever you do make sure you roast at least a few and use at least a variety of at least three. It adds to the complexity of the flavor.

– 1 small onion minced
– 4 cloves of garlic minced

Saute the onions in a sauce pan with a small amount of oil for a few minutes. Then add the garlic and continue to saute until the onions are transparent. Then add:

– 1 1/2 cups of veggie broth
– Peppers (identified above)
– 1 Tbs of peanut butter
– 1/2 tsp cumin
– 1/2 tsp paprika
– 1 Tbs oregano (preferably the kind you find in the mexican section, it’s has a slightly different flavor)
– 1/3 C of fresh cilantro (I really like cilantro, so you can reduce it slightly if you don’t)
– 1/4 C crushed tortilla chips (basically the bottom of the bag)

Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then comes the magic and some adjustments. Gradually add:

– 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips

Chocolate is a key flavor, but you are looking for balance so add a little at a time, stir and taste. Round everything off by salting to taste.

More notes: You are striving for a balance of sweet, spicy and savory. As I said add your chocolate slowly. You want to taste it, but you’re not making a dessert. If it gets too sweet add cayenne to bring back up the heat. You also want to taste the savory, herby flavors so feel free to add more oregano and cilantro if needed.

What ever you do taste, adjust and experiment. This sauce is all about subtle hints of flavors. I’ve seen recipes that call for a variety of toasted nuts and seeds or raisins. It’s all about creating a rich and complex flavor.

As far as what you do with it once its done. I covered the bottom of a lightly greased pan with a thin layer of mole. Then I made four large enchiladas filled with quinoa chorizo, beans and cheese. Placed those in the pan on top of the mole then covered everything with the remainder of the sauce and baked the whole thing at 350 for 30 minutes.

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7 May 2012 Recipes

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