Holy Mole

One of the things I love most about cooking is experimenting with recipes and making them fit my lifestyle. Another thing I love is Mexican food. My guilty pleasure are the chips and pico de gallo (they have to be thick cut though). Now I know this is more of an Americanized food, just as the fortune cookie is hardly part of Chinese culture; however mole is a dish with great cultural and religious significance in the Mexican cuisine. The fact that it has dark chocolate in it is enough for me to devote the good part of my Friday making this delicious sauce. Stay with me as I take you through my first mole extravaganza.

I took a trip down to my local Mexican market to buy all the dried chiles and plantain. All of the other ingredients can be found at your local grocery store. The chiles 2 small bags of each: Chipotle, Ancho, Pasilla, Mulato, New Mexico, and Guajillo. Stemmed and deseeded, this takes a bit of time and I would definitely recommend wearing gloves; my fingers were burning afterwards. In a large skillet or dutch oven heat 1/2 c avocado oil or olive oil (not extra virgin) and “fry” the chiles in batches for a few minutes until  glossy. mole1

Drain the chiles and place back into a clean dutch oven, cover with 10 cups of water and 2tbsp white vinegar. Let sit overnight or at least 8 hours.

In batches use a slotted spoon to transfer the chiles to a blender and add enough of the soaking liquid to blend smoothly. Make sure to use enough liquid and don’t over load your blender, this will prevent overheating. My Vitamix came back to life but I had to wait an hour to finish.

Now for the rest of the ingredients and there are quite a few! Roast 3 medium tomatoes, 4 cloves of garlic and 1 small white onion, in a 375 degree oven until tender. In a dry skillet roast 1/2tsp whole coriander seeds, 1/4tsp anise seeds, 1/4c pumpkin seeds, 1tsp peppercorns, 2 whole cloves, 1/2c sesame seeds, 1 cinnamon stick, over medium heat until fragrant, be careful not to burn the spices.

Add 1/2c avocado or olive oil to your skillet and fry the seed and seasoning mix until lightly toasted, not burnt. Remove and drain excess oil. Chop the ripe plantain and fry until softened with the cinnamon stick, remove and drain excess oil. Add 1/3c almonds and 1/3c raisins (I used golden raisins but regular are fine) to the skillet and fry until browned about 1 minute.

Add all of the above ingredients plus 1/4tsp  fresh thyme and 1 sprig of flat leaf parsley to the blender MINUS the cinnamon stick! Add enough soaking liquid to puree to smooth consistency. Now for traditional mole a corn tortilla and 4 slices of a bolillo roll would be fried in the same fashion as the other ingredients and added to the blender, this would help thicken the sauce. I omitted these ingredients to eliminate the gluten and carb content, my mole was plenty thick!

Combine the chile puree with the seasoning puree in your dutch oven. Now for the best part add the chocolate. I used 2oz of 85% dark chocolate and 1/4c of cocoa powder. You can add more or less depending on how chocolatey you want it. Lastly and also optional add in sweetener of choice. Traditional recipes call for sugar, I used Swerve sweetener about 1/4c, you could also use honey. The mole will taste different as the flavors meld and the chiles cook so don’t overdo it.

Cook the mole until it becomes darker in color and to desired thickness. Mine was pretty thick to begin so I simmered it with the lid on for 1 hour to prevent further evaporation of any liquid. Now for the tedious yet necessary part, you need to strain the mole through a fine mesh strainer to get out all the little bits and make the mole silky smooth. My wrist is still sore!

As you can see this is a long process with lots of ingredients so needless to say you are going to make a huge batch of this deliciousness. Use mason jars or freezer bags to store your extra and it will last awhile in the freezer for later use.

What I made with my first mole. Collard Chicken Enchiladas, if you read my Chopped Challenge post, I made something similar. Collard greens are my new favorite replacement for tortillas. Simply steam them until tender, put in your filling (I used black beans, chicken, sauteed zucchini and onions, with some of my mole sauce, I let that simmer for 30 minutes with 1 bay leaf for even more depth of flavor), topped with more mole sauce and cotija cheese or whatever cheese you like. Baked at 375 until cheese is melted about 15 minutes, longer if your filling is not warm or prepped ahead of time. Served with a simple chipotle lime slaw.

 

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