Now that the weather is finally beginning to cool off and the Central Texas version of Autumn is beginning to take hold, it’s time to pull out the comfort foods in earnest.
As I said in my post on Mole Verde (Oct. 9), Mole is one of my favorite comfort foods as well as one of the things I love most about living in Texas.
My version of this recipe may have mole purists askance. Well, perhaps not so much the dish itself, but the fact that I have made this dish with ground rather than whole chiles. I give the equivalent whole chile amounts as well.
I feel slightly guilty about this because I’m such a purist about Arabic food. But, I do honestly feel if you can at least keep the spirit and flavor of the original dish, experimentation isn’t a bad thing.
Admittedly, using the ground chiles does save time in the preparation. And, to me anyway, makes no difference in the flavor of the dish.
You should be able to find the whole dried chiles in any grocery with a good produce department. If you live in an area with a large Hispanic population, there will likely be a grocery/supermercado and, most likely, there will be dried chiles available. If not, they’re available online.
Try it both ways, and see which way you prefer.
Now, to the recipe:
Mole Rojo (Red Mole) is a slightly sweet, moderately spicy mole. You can certainly adjust the heat as you like.
4 c. chicken stock, pork stock, or water
3 lbs. pork shoulder or butt, cut into 2″ pieces (if you get a bone with the shoulder, keep it)
4 – 4-1/2 lbs. chicken (whole chicken or leg quarters)
6 ea. ancho chiles
3 tbsp. ancho chile powder
6 ea. pasilla chiles
3 tbsp. pasilla chile powder
1 ea. chipotle chile
1 tsp. chipotle powder
1 lg. white onion, peeled, stem end left on, cut into 1/4′s
6 cloves garlic, peeled, stem end removed
3 ea. tomatillos, papery skin removed and rinsed
3 ea. Roma tomatoes, rinsed
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. whole raw almonds
1/4 c. raisins
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (canela)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 disk Mexican chocolate, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Heat the meat and stock or water in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the stock comes to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer until the meat is tender: for chicken, about 60 – 75 minutes; pork, about 1-1/2 – 2 hours.
Once the meat is done, take it from the stock and set it aside until cool enough to shred.
Meanwhile, while the meat is cooking, prep the other ingredients.
2. If you’re using whole dried chiles, remove the stems and cut the chiles open (a pair of kitchen scissors will work best) to remove the seeds. (The dried chiles should still be somewhat pliable. If they’re dry and crumble easily, then they’re too old. Also, it is a good idea to wear kichen gloves to keep your hands from becoming sticky, stained, and keep the capsaicin off your fingers.) Open the chiles flat and dry roast them in a heavy skillet over high heat for a few seconds on each side (you’ll need to do this in batches) until they become soft and begin to blister. Take the chiles off the heat and put into a bowl. When you are done heating all the chiles, cover them with boiling water and weigh down with a small plate. Let the chiles sit for 30 minutes. (If they sit for a little longer, it’s all right.)
After 30 minutes, drain the chiles and discard the soaking water (it will be bitter). Puree the chiles in a food processor or blender (you’ll need to do this in batches) until you make a paste. Set aside.
3. If you’re using chile powder (like I am in this example), mix them together and dry roast the powder in a heavy skillet until it just begins to release a scent. Stir constantly to be sure the powder doesn’t burn.
Pour the toasted powder onto a plate and allow to cool.
4. Wipe out the skillet. Dry roast the onion quarters, garlic, tomatillos, and tomatoes. You want black spots, but doen’t over-brown or burn the vegetables.
Once you’ve roasted the tomatoes, remove the seeds and stem ends. Cut the stem end off the onion. Set the vegetables aside.
5. Take the skillet off the heat and let it cool slightly. Add the oil and let it heat. Lightly fry the almonds, about 2 – 3 minutes.
Remove the almonds from the oil and drain on paper towels. Let cool.
Now, lightly fry the raisins in the oil until they just begin to puff, about 30 – 60 seconds. Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Turn off the heat under the oil. Add the masa, dissolve into the oil, and make a roux. Pour the roux into a small bowl. Set aside.
6. In a small food processor, blender, or, with a lot a patience by hand, grind or chop the almonds until they make a fine meal. Set aside.
7. Turn the heat back on under the stockpot and heat the stock over medium-high heat. Mix in the chile paste or powder, onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomatillos, ground almonds, raisins, tomato paste, brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 45 minutes. Stir frequently.
If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the stockpot, take it off the heat, pour it into a clean stockpot, and place it back on the heat. Don’t scrape the bottom of the stockpot. You don’t want any of the burnt mole sauce.
8. While the sauce is cooking, shred or chop the meat. If you’re using pork, discard any bone, gristle, and excess fat. If you’re using chicken, discard any bone, gristle, excess fat, and skin. Set aside.
9. Remove the stockpot from the heat and let cool slightly. Puree the mole sauce with an immersion (stick) blender, or in a blender or food processor. (You’ll need to puree the sauce in batches if you use a blender or processor.)
I like some texture in my mole sauce; but, if you prefer a smoother texture, strain the sauce through a fine strainer.
10. Put the mole sauce back on the heat and add the roux and chopped chocolate.
Cook for 5 minutes, then taste for seasoning. Add the meat back to the sauce. Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
11. Serve the mole with rice and corn tortillas.
And, as with most sauces, stews, chilis, and soups, this is better the next day.
I also like to take the leftover mole and heat it up with some eggs poached on top. Great breakfast.