Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mole Negro

This traditional Oaxacan sauce is great with tamales or in mole-specific recipe for goat cheese, corn, and sweet potato crepes. And for any carnivorous folks out there, this recipe will go great with chicken as well. Soooooo delicious!

Note that this recipe makes a fairly big batch, so if you’re cooking a small meal, reducing the proportions is recommended. However, mole freezes and cans well, so I recommend just saving what you have left over. 

Some of the ingredients here are a bit obscure, but you can find most of them at any large supermarket or Mexican market. 

Regarding the Mexican chocolate, there are a few varieties out there, but the one I most highly recommend is Ibarra (pictured above). 

Prep time: 1 cocktail

Spice and seed mix: 
2 TBSP shelled pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)
1/3 cup peanuts
2 TBSP sesame seeds
½ tsp dried chipotle powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/2 of a star anise pod
10 cloves
8 peppercorns

Other ingredients:
4-5 dried Ancho chilies
4-5 dried Guajillo chilies
4-5 dried Pasilla chilies
3 medium tomatoes, whole
3 tomatillos, peeled and left whole
3 TBSP corn or canola oil
3/4 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock, store-bought or homemade
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup raisins
1.5 wheels of Ibarra chocolate (the large, 90 gram size)
2 tsp salt
Sugar to taste

Put a couple cups of water on to boil. Preheat oven to 350.

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the spice and seed mix and set aside.

When oven is hot, toast anchos, guajillos, and pasillas directly on the rack for about 3 minutes, or until they become fragrant and just start to give off a bit of smoke when you open the oven door. Remove from the oven and combine the peppers with the boiling water in a bowl. Let soak for at least 20 minutes. You’ll want to place a weighted plate on top of the peppers to keep them submerged. Remove from water and drain. Remove stems and seeds and set aside.

While your peppers are soaking bring a big pot of water to a boil and throw the whole tomatoes and tomatillos in the water. Boil until the skins start to wrinkle, about 4 minutes. Then drain, and let cool enough to handle. Then core the tomatoes. 

In large saucepan or large frying pan, heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and sauté until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Stir in garlic and sauté about 45 seconds. Stir in almonds and sauté 2 minutes. Then stir in the spice and seed mix and sauté 2 more minutes. Transfer the contents immediately to a food processor or blender.

You'll likely need to work in batches, but you'll want to process the onion/spice mixture with the chilies, tomatoes, tomatillos, vegetable stock, and raisins. Process until it becomes a totally smooth sauce.

Pour your sauce into a saucepan and over medium-low. Stir in chocolate, salt, and a couple pinches of sugar. Stir almost continuously until the chocolate melts completely.

Now comes the adjustment part. Mole is a delicate balanced sauce, and following any recipe will yield differing results at different times. So you will likely need to adjust with a bit of sugar, salt, almond butter, and/or chocolate to get it to be just perfect. You may also have to cook off a bit of water or add some to get to the right consistency (it should be a little runnier than ketchup).

Cook for one more minute and remove from heat. Serve hot over the tamales or goat cheese, corn, and sweet potato crepes.

(Mole is also great if you do any home canning. A single batch will make about 5 pints. Process pints in a pressure canner with 3/4-inch headspace for 20 minutes.)

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