Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Holy Mole

For me, nothing says “I love you and think you are ravishingly sexy” like a great mole sauce. The heat of the chiles and the silkiness of the chocolate co-mingle in this sauce tantalize so many of the senses. Traditionally moles are made with a chicken broth. In this version, to make it vegetarian, I used a vegetable broth. This can be homemade or you can simply use a vegetable bouillon cube. A lightly browned piece of queso fresco pairs so nicely with the seductive mole that just clings passionately to your taste buds.

I was curious about the origins of the tasty sauce so I found out a little about the history of mole sauce or more specifically mole Poblano sauce. The word ‘mole’ comes from the Aztec word “molli” meaning sauce, stew or concoction. The region in the southeastern part of Mexico is known as the Land of the Seven Moles or Oaxaca. The exact origin of the mole is unclear, but the date is said to be somewhere between the years of 1680 and 1688. One story goes that the nuns of the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de Los Angeles learned suddenly that the Archbishop was going to visit them. In the panic of having nothing to serve him, they prayed and prayed and an angel came to inspire them.  They then pulled together a sauce comprised of many dried chiles, toasted nuts, dried fruits, and cocoa powder. They ground up this concoction and served it over some cooked turkey. At least that’s on one version of the story goes. But whatever really happened, it gave birth to a well-known delicious and seductive sauce that has lasted through time.

DARK AND SEXY MOLE WITH QUESO BLANCO would make a great appetizer to a Mexican themed dinner or at a cocktail party. Since the mole takes a bit of time to make, I would recommend you make it at least a day in advance, that way the flavors in the mole get to deepen and intensify. This makes a lot of sauce and it freezes well. I would actually recommend making a double batch and then freezing the rest that you don’t use. Then it will be so easy to thaw it and use quickly for a pop-up romantic dinner for two. Oh yes, pass the mole PLEASE (wink, wink). Hmmmmm, now isn’t that a Foodgasmic thought!


DARK AND SEXY MOLE WITH QUESO BLANCO
Yields 1 quart of sauce

This recipe is influnced by the recipe from the blog
 http://jugalbandi.info/2007/11/when-chilli-meets-chocolate-vegetarian-mole-poblano/ which was adapted from a recipe from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless and Deann.

2 ounces dried chiles mulatos
3/4 ounces dried chiles anchos
1/2 ounce dried chiles pasilla negros
1/2 teaspoon of the chili seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (optional)
4-5 cups of vegetable broth
2 1/2 ounces of canned or fresh, cooked tomatoes
1 ounces bitter or bittersweet chocolate
3 black peppercorns
1 cloves
1/8 teaspoon aniseed
1/4 inch cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/8 cup olive oil
1 ounce unskinned almonds
1 ounce raisins
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1 clove peeled and chopped garlic

1/2 corn tortilla, stale or dried out
2 tablespoons maple syrup or jaggery
12 oz. queso blanco (round fresh Mexican crumbling cheese)
small handful fresh cilantro (optional)

SECTION 1
Cut, deseed and remove the membranes from:
2 ounces dried chiles mulatos
3/4 ounces dried chiles anchos
1/2 ounce dried chiles pasilla negros
Save 1/2 teaspoon of the chili seeds and set aside.
Turn on the exhaust fan, then in 1 tablespoon oil; fry the chilles until slightly toasted. Remove them to a large bowl, cover the chiles with boiling water, weigh with a plate to keep them submerged, soak at least 1 hour, then drain and discard the chili water.
Add 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (this is optional)
Puree everything together with 1 cup of vegetable broth to a smooth paste.

SECTION 2
In a spice grinder, grind up the following and set aside:
1 ounces bitter or bittersweet chocolate
3 black peppercorns
1 cloves
1/8 teaspoon aniseed
1/4 inch cinnamon stick
In a medium size skillet set over medium heat, dry toast the
reserved chilli seeds (1/2 tsp)
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon coriander seeds
one at a time, stirring each until it has lightly browned. Add the canned or fresh cooked tomatoes and the ground up spice mixture. Stir till it comes together.

SECTION 3
Frying individually in 1/8 cup oil:
1 ounce unskinned almonds (for 3-4 minutes)
Remove, and next fry
1 ounce raisins (until puffed up)
Remove and fry together
1/4 cup onion, sliced and
1 clove peeled and chopped garlic
until well caramelized (about 8 minutes)
Remove, and next fry the 1/2 corn tortilla until brown.

SECTION 4
Add everything to the tomato mixture and grind with as much vegetable broth as required to a smooth puree.
In the same oil, fry the chili puree for 4-5 minutes, then add the tomato mixture and fry some more until thick.
Mix in 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, and salt to taste, partially cover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally, season with the maple syrup or jaggery. If the sauce is thicker than heavy cream, thin it with a little broth.

In non-still sauté pan cook the 12 oz. queso blanco (round fresh Mexican crumbling cheese) on both sides until golden on the edges.
Shortly before serving cut into wedges and add to the sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro if you want.


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