Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mole Poblano

Brick-colored building block of a good meal

Mole, in Spanish it means mixture. The Mexican sauce varies from verde (tomatillo) to Cacahuate (peanut) to the more variety popular in America poblano (notably with chocolate). Mole consists of pantry items, nuts, seeds, bread, spices, dried chilies and fruits, to make a spectacular complex savory sauce much greater than its parts. The rich flavors of mole suit chicken and turkey. When drizzled over roasted vegetables (roasted pumpkin and squash, plantains, eggplant, grilled onion etc.) or eggs mole adds a good kick.

Mole Poblano

Mole Base
5 dried ancho chiles
3 dried pasilla negro (or negro) chiles
2 dried guajillo or mulato chiles
3 tblsp black raisins
1/4 cup almonds
3 tblsp raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 3-4 inch piece of french bread, crust cut off
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 whole cloves
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp dried oregano
2 oz of unsweetened Mexican (or regular) chocolate
1 tblsp molasses

Rinse the dried chilies under cool water. Remove stems, tear open, and shake out seeds. Toast the chilies over medium heat to enhance their flavors. Only toast until the color of the chilies darken, do not let blacken. Through away any parts of the chili that blacken, they will make your sauce bitter. Also be careful not to hover near the skillet, the fumes are awful. Remove toasted chilies to a bowl, add raisins and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes.


Dried and toasted peppers take a steamy soak

Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the almonds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds on a tray for 10-12 minutes. Grind the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds in a spice grinder. You may need to work in 2 batches.

Add the soaked chilies and raisins, with the ground spice and seeds, chocolate, and molasses to a food processor. Grind until a paste forms. While the motor is running, pour 1/2 cup increments of the chili soaking liquid (if your soaking liquid is bitter use plain water) into the paste until a loose paste forms. The paste should fall in gloppy sheets from a spoon.

This base will make 2 medium batches of sauce. Divide into zip bags, and toss into the deep freeze until you are ready.

Mole Sauce
1 large onion, cut in half
1 large tomato
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 mole base
3 cups stock
1/4 canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the onion, tomato, and garlic cloves in a tight foil package. Roast in oven on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes, or until the onion is tender. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and whiz it all up until smooth, adding extra stock or water to thin the sauce as desired. You will have 6-8 cups of mole sauce. More than a condiment. The center stage. Enjoy it!

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