Quick & Dirty Mole

Dinner: April 11, 2006
Originally uploaded by Jenblossom.

I've been wanting for a very long time to make mole from scratch. Mole dishes are something I love, though my Mexican grandma did not really make them when I was growing up - I've only really had them in restaurants.

I recently got my hands on an ancient copy of Diana Kennedy's The Cuisines of Mexico, and while the mole recipes in it are inspiring, and something I definitely plan to tackle in the future, I just didn't have the time or energy to deal with that yesterday. So I decided to just go ahead and do a "quick & dirty" version - not using a recipe, just putting in the things that typically go into a mole sauce, adding layers of flavor, just to see what I could do with a few hours of prep and cooking time. The result was pretty darn tasty, and I've got a bunch of mole "base" left over for future use.

Quick & Dirty Mole

4 dried arbol chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles
3 dried ancho chiles
4 cups water
4 plum tomatoes, halved
3 large tomatilloes, husks removed, halved
1/2 can chipotles in adobo
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup pepitas
1/4 cup almonds
1 tbsp. each coriander and cumin seeds
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stick cinnamon
1-2 tbsp. each ground cinnamon, cumin, dried oregano
2 cups chicken stock (plus additional if needed)
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp. Sherry vinegar
3 tbsp. best-quality Dutch-process cocoa powder
Kosher salt
Canola or other neutral oil

Soak dried chiles in 4 cups water 2-3 hours until softened. Remove from water, and reserve about 1 cup of the soaking liquid. Remove stems and seeds from chiles.

Toss tomato and tomatillo halves with salt and a little canola, and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees until skins are charred and fruits are softened.

Place tomatoes/tomatillos and all juices into a blender. Add the softened dried chiles, chipotles and adobo, and dried apricots to blender and puree.

Toast pepitas, almonds, coriander and cumin seeds in a dry skillet. Add to blender and puree, adding the reserved chile soaking liquid 1/2 cup at a time.

Cook onion and garlic with a little salt and oil in a heavy bottomed pot until softened. Add the puree from the blender, then add ground spices and two cups of chicken stock. Cook at a low simmer, covered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adding a little more chicken broth if the mixture gets too stiff (it should be thick, but not paste-like). Add lime juice and sherry vinegar, cocoa powder and adjust salt and other seasonings as needed. Continue cooking at a low simmer for another 30 minutes.

You will end up with probably 5-6 cups of this "base" - for our meal, I dredged 1 lb. of chicken thighs in flour seasoned with pinches of salt, cumin and cinnamon, and removed the excess. I browned them in canola until golden, drained off a bit of the excess oil from the skillet, then added about 1.5 cups of mole base and 1 cup of chicken stock. I let this cook, covered, until the chicken was tender and nearly falling off the bone.

Posted by jenblossom on April 12, 2006 | TrackBack

I have never tried cooking mexican food though I have tried some clones :-)
Will give this a try.. sounds simple

Posted by: Tony of Bachelor cooking on May 4, 2006 9:55 AM
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