Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mole sauce

This was my mole experiment! I made a ton of sauce and ended up freezing about half of it. The rest I used to braise turkey and chicken and it was pretty good although the presentation was decidedly non-authentic. I was going to make enchiladas or have it with rice but got lazy so we all just had it with tortillas and people could do whatever they felt like with it. And it's a gift that keeps on giving--last night I put leftovers into a quesadilla with mizuna and queso fresco, so it's actually pretty awesome to have a huge batch of it sitting around in your fridge. Here's some more of that gastro-linguo-ethnic analysis that I'm so fond of: "mole" really just refers generally to a sauce, kind of like how pesto is a general term for mashing ingredients together into a paste, not necessarily restricted to the Genovese version with basil and pine nuts. So I will say here that I made an Oaxacan-style mole, which often relies on things like chiles, nuts, garlic/onions, or chocolate, depending on the recipe you are following. I didn't really follow a recipe, but my sauce leans more towards a mole rojo rather than a mole negro. I think when I use my frozen stash, I'll put it over roasted wedges of yukon gold potatoes, kind of like a romesco.

There's a lot of individual roasting and blending that goes on in mole preparation so I used my beloved immersion blender quite a bit for this project. I guess a food processor would work pretty well too. Anyway, first off I purée together about 5 peeled tomatoes (I used my usual canned plum tomatoes but fresh would be nice in season) with 8 fresh, chopped poblanos, then set it in a saucepan to cook over medium-low. After about 10 minutes, I added 2 cups chicken stock, turned up the heat and let it keep cooking until slightly reduced, about another 12 minutes or so. Meanwhile, I combined 2 cloves of garlic and one medium onion, both roughly chopped, in a baking dish with 8 chopped tomatillos. I added a little drizzle of olive oil and set them to roast in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. In a wee tiny skillet, I toasted some sesame seeds for just a minute or so until light brown, then removed from heat and set aside. I wanted to use a few different dried chilies to give some nuance to the sauce so I picked through the bins at the DeKalb farmers market and ended up with 8 pasilla, 4 ancho and 3 chipotles. I wanted mulatos but couldn't find any. I decided to mostly de-seed the chilies because I wasn't sure how hot they would be. I figured that it was a learning experience and if it was too tame I would know for next time to leave more seeds in.I chopped up the chilies and put them in my large dutch oven over medium low heat with 4 cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground anise, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. For the nuts I used a big mixture of about 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (I definitely would have used more of these but sadly that was all I had left), 1/4 cup pine nuts, 1/2 cup almonds and 1/2 cup peanuts. After chopping them up, I added them to the chilies along with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil and sautéed for about 5 minutes. By now the tomatillos, onion and garlic were ready so I hauled them out of the oven, mashed them up and added into the chilie-nut mixture along with the reserved sesame seeds and ground it all up together with the blender. I had to add about 1 cup chicken stock to make it blend smoothly. Added in another 3 cups of stock, and stirred it continually for about 25 minutes while it gradually thickened up over low heat. I then added in the tomato purée from earlier and stirred in about 4 squares of grated bitter chocolate, reheating just to the boiling point to obtain a nice thick sauce.This is about when I realized I had more sauce on my hands than I could possibly use in one evening, so I froze about half of it. I added chopped, cooked turkey to the other half which fell apart beautifully giving a nice heft to the sauce. This is also about the time that I got too lazy to make enchiladas with my sauce so I decided to cook slices of chicken right in the sauce and call it a day.

No comments: