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Mole Poblano 1

Posted on November 07, 2013 by Sahar

Once again, the weather has taken its temporary turn towards cool & comfortable here in Central Texas.  The perfect excuse to break out the mole.  Again.

I’ve made mole twice before on this blog –  Mole Verde (Oct. 9, 2012: http://www.tartqueenskitchen.com/?p=1120) and Mole Rojo (Oct. 30. 2012: http://www.tartqueenskitchen.com/?p=1170).

The mole I’m making this time is probably the best known as well as the original: Mole Poblano.

Legend has it that in the 16th Century this  dish was invented in desperation by the nuns of the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles.  They were an impoverished order expecting a visit from the Archbishop and they really had nothing to feed him.  So, they basically threw together what they had: day-old bread, chocolate, some chiles, nuts, an old turkey.  The results were, shall we say, heavenly.  Apparently, the Archbishop loved the meal. And a masterpiece was created.

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For the last mole I made for you, Mole Rojo, I used exclusively chili powders.  This was to demonstrate that they could be used as a substitution for the dried chiles and makes the preparation much easier.  In this recipe, I do things the more traditional way, with dried chiles.  It takes longer, most definitely.  But, for mole purists, I hope I have redeemed myself with you.

A few notes:

1.  When using the dried chiles, make sure they are fresh-looking and pliable (a contradiction, I know).  If the chiles break apart when you try to bend them, it simply means they are too old and dried out (and possibly infested).  You want the chilies to have retained their essential oils.  That’s what gives them their flavor and aroma.

2.  The best place to find the chiles (and all the ingredients for this recipe) is at a market that caters to the Hispanic community. (Here in Austin, my favorite is El Rancho Supermercado.)  If they don’t have it, it’s pretty unlikely anyone else will.  Besides, it’s a great place to go to just explore and try new things. Plus I get to practice my limited Spanish.

3.  I used a 4-lb bone-in turkey breast for this example.  You can use leftover turkey and skip step 1.  However, be sure to use chicken or turkey broth instead of water.  Otherwise, you won’t get the flavor you’re looking for.

4.  This recipe makes a lot.  You can serve up to 8.  But, it does freeze beautifully.

 

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

Sesame and Anise Seeds

Sesame and Anise Seeds

Clockwise:

Clockwise: Brown Sugar, ground Cloves, ground Cinnamon

Clockwise: raw Almonds, Pecans, Raisins

Clockwise: raw Almonds, Pecans, Raisins

Masa

Masa

 

Onion, Garlic, Romas, Tomatillos

Onion, Garlic, Romas, Tomatillos

 

Mexican Chocolate disks

Mexican Chocolate disks

 

Chiles, left to right: Chipotle, Pasilla, Ancho, Mulatto

Chiles, left to right: Chipotle, Pasilla, Ancho, Mulato

 

Chipotle - smoked and dried Jalapeño

Chipotle – smoked and dried Jalapeño

 

Pasilla Chilie: dried Chilaca pepper.

Pasilla Chilie – dried Chilaca pepper.

Ancho Chile - dried Poblano Pepper

Ancho Chile – dried Poblano Pepper

Mulato Chile - dried Mulato Pepper

Mulato Chile – dried Mulato Pepper

 

4 c. chicken broth, turkey broth, or water

4 lbs. turkey

 

8 ea. mulato chiles

-or-

4 tbsp. mulato chile powder

 

6 ea. ancho chiles

-or-

3 tbsp. ancho chile powder

 

4 ea. pasilla chiles

-or-

2 tbsp. chile powder

 

1 ea. chipotle chile

-or-

1 tsp. chipotle chile powder

 

1 lg. white onion, peeled and cut into 1/4’s, stem left on

6 cloves garlic, peeled, stem removed

3 ea. tomatillos, papery skin removed and rinsed

4 ea. Roma tomatoes, rinsed

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

1/2 tsp. anise seeds

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. raw almonds

1/2 c. pecans

1/2 c. raisins

1/4 c. masa

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 ground cinnamon (canela)

2 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tbsp. tomato paste

2 disks Mexican chocolate, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

Additional sesame seeds for garnish

 

1.  Place the turkey and stock or water to a large stockpot and heat over medium-high heat.  Once the stock has come to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until the meat is cooked, about 30 – 45 minutes.  Once the turkey is done, take it from the stock and set aside until cool enough to shred.  Turn the heat off under the stock until all the other ingredients are ready.

2.  If you’re using whole chiles, remove the stems and cut the chiles open to remove the seeds.

Cutting open the chile. Using gloves is highly recommended. Tis not only keeps your hands from getting stained and sticky, it keeps the chile oils off your hands.

Cutting the stem off  the chile. Using gloves is highly recommended. This not only keeps your hands from getting stained and sticky, it keeps the chile oils off your hands. A pair of sharp kitchen shears helps, too.

Cutting open the chile.

Cutting open the chile.

The insides. You want to get rid of as many seeds and veins as possible.  They'll make the final mole bitter if you don't.

The insides. You want to get rid of as many seeds and veins as possible. They’ll make the final mole bitter if you don’t.

Removing the seeds and veins.  If you have a good dried chile, there will be some oil residue inside. This is a good thing.  And, again, the gloves are a very good idea.

Removing the seeds and veins. If you have a good dried chile, there will be some oil residue inside. This is a good thing. And, again, the gloves are a very good idea.

Dry roast the chiles in a heavy skillet over high heat for a few seconds on each side to soften slightly.

Toasting the chiles. This not only helps to soften them up a bit, but it also starts to cook the oils and enhance the flavor.

Toasting the chiles. This not only helps to soften them up a bit, but it also starts to cook the oils and enhance the flavor.

Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit for 30 minutes. (It’s OK if they sit a little longer.)

Soaking the chiles.  I like to put a small plate on top to keep them under water.

Soaking the chiles. I like to put a small plate on top to keep them under water.

Drain the chiles and discard the water.

The chiles after soaking for 30 minutes.  They'll increase in size and become lighter in color.

The chiles after soaking for 30 minutes. They’ll increase in size and become lighter in color. (The water hasn’t been drained off in this photo. Be sure to drain it.)

Puree the chiles in a food processor or blender (you’ll need to do this in batches) until you make a paste.  Set aside.

The pureed chiles.

The pureed chiles.

3.  If you’re using the chile powders, dry roast them over high heat in a heavy skillet until they just begin to release a scent.  Stir constantly to be sure the powders don’t burn.  Pour the powder onto a plate or another flat surface and spread it out to help it cool. (Basically, skip step 2 all together.)

4.  While the chiles are soaking, wipe out the pan.  Dry roast the onion quarters, garlic, tomatillos, and tomato.  You want black spots, but you don’t want to over-brown the vegetables.

Browning the fresh stuff: Starting with garlic.  You just want a few brown spots; don't over-brown.

Browning the fresh stuff: Starting with garlic. You just want a few brown spots; don’t over-brown.

Browning the onion quarters. Once these are cool enough to handle, cut off the stem ends.

Browning the onion quarters. Once these are cool enough to handle, cut off the stem ends.

 

The tomatillos.  Be sure they don't burst in the skillet.

The tomatillos. Be sure they don’t burst in the skillet.

The Romas. be sure they don't burst in the skillet. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off as much of the skin as you can, cut off the stem end, cut into quarters, and remove the seeds.

The Romas. Be sure they don’t burst in the skillet. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off as much of the skin as you can, cut off the stem end, cut into quarters, and remove the seeds.

Once you’ve roasted the tomatoes, peel and seed them.  Cut the stems off the onion quarters.  Set the vegetables aside.

5.  Take the skillet off the heat and let cool slightly.  Add the sesame seeds and anise seeds.  Quickly roast until the seeds are toasted.  Pour onto a small plate and set aside.

Toasting the sesame and anise seeds.  You want them to have an aroma and begin to "jump" in the skillet.  Immediately take them off the heat and pour onto a flat surface and spread out to cool.

Toasting the sesame and anise seeds. You want them to have an aroma and begin to “jump” in the skillet. Immediately take them off the heat and pour onto a flat surface and spread out to cool.

6.  Add the oil to the skillet.  Lightly fry the almonds and pecans.  Drain on paper towels and let cool slightly.

Frying the pecans and almonds.  You just want to do this until they begin to take on some extra color.

Frying the pecans and almonds. You just want to do this until they begin to take on some extra color.

Grind the almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, and anise seeds together.  Set aside.

The ground nuts and seeds.  This smells amazing.

The ground nuts and seeds. This smells amazing.

7.  Lightly fry the raisins until they just begin to puff.  Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Frying the raisins.

Frying the raisins.

8.  Turn off the heat under the oil.  Add the masa and make a roux (don’t let it get too dark).  Pour the roux into a small bowl and set aside.

Making a roux with now a rather flavorful oil.

Making a roux with now a rather flavorful oil.

9.  Turn the heat back on under the stockpot with the broth to medium-high.  Add in the chile paste or powder, onion, garlic, tomatillos, tomatoes, ground nut & spice mix, raisins, tomato paste, brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.

Almost everything in the pot with the chicken/turkey stock.

Almost everything in the pot with the chicken/turkey stock.

10.  Meanwhile, shred the turkey.  Discard any bone, skin, and gristle.  Set the turkey aside.

Shredded turkey.  In this recipe, I used turkey breast; but, you can use whatever you prefer. If you have leftover turkey, use both dark and white meat.

Shredded turkey. In this recipe, I used turkey breast; however, use whatever you prefer.

11.  After 45 minutes, remove the stockpot from the heat and let cool slightly.

After 45 minutes.  The vegetables have softened and the ground nuts have helped to thicken the sauce.

After 45 minutes. The vegetables have softened and the ground nuts have helped to thicken the sauce.

Puree the mole with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor.  If you want a super-smooth mole, after you’ve pureed it, you can pass it through a strainer.

Thoroughly puree the mole. Make sure the blender isn't running when you pull it out of the hot liquid. Bless whoever invented the immersion blender.

Thoroughly puree the mole. Make sure the blender isn’t running when you pull it out of the hot liquid.
Bless whoever invented the immersion blender.

12.  Put the mole back on the heat and add the masa roux and the chocolate.

Adding the masa roux and chocolate. They just melt right on in.

Adding the masa roux and chocolate. They just melt right on in.

Cook for 5 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.  Add the turkey and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stirring in the turkey.  Almost there.

Stirring in the turkey.
Almost there.

13.  Serve the mole with rice and corn tortillas.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish.

The ultimate reward for all your hard work.

The ultimate reward for all your hard work.

 

Buen Apetito!

 

 

Chicken Chile Verde 0

Posted on April 30, 2013 by Sahar

I’m about to say something that will send some chili aficionados into a wall-eyed fit: green chili is a good thing.

Now, being from Texas, I know that’s not necessarily a popular sentiment.  Unless you’re close to the New Mexico border.  In fact, at the best-known chili cookoff in Terlingua, Texas, there’s not even a green chili category.

However, I do like it.  I find it’s generally easier to make than traditional chili (if you’d like the recipe, see my post [Chili… Or, Them’s Fightin’ Words] from Feb. 14, 2012), it’s just as versatile, and mostly, it’s delicious.

So, off I go.  On to the recipe:

********************************

A couple of notes:

1.  Using canned Hatch chiles will save time and mess.  But, if you have Hatch chiles from last year in the freezer, use them.

2.  I’ve also used, in place of the thighs, a whole chicken from the deli.  This will save time also and make this a reasonably quick after-work meal.

3.  You can use pork instead or make the chili vegetarian.  In place of chicken or pork, you can use beans.  Yes… Beans.  Also, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

4.  Admittedly, my chili is not green, per se.  I call it green because I don’t use any tomatoes or red meat.  However, if you want a fully green chili, you can use green chili powder (usually ground jalapeno, hatch, or poblano chiles.)  However, you will want to experiment and check the spice level and adjust the recipe accordingly.

5.  Taste the chili before adding the lime juice.  I like more citrus than most people, so I enjoy the added tartness.  However, you may not.

The ingredients

The ingredients

Clockwise from top: Mexican Oregano, Black Pepper, Salt, ground Cumin, Chili Powder

Clockwise from top: Mexican Oregano, Black Pepper, Salt, ground Cumin, Chili Powder

3 lbs. chicken thighs

4 c. water or chicken broth

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

4 cl. garlic, minced

1 med. onion, diced

2 serranos, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed if you prefer

1 c. roasted, seeded,  peeled , and chipped Anaheim, Poblano, or Hatch Chilies (roughly 4 – 6 chiles)

-or-

2 small cans chopped Hatch chilies

1 1/2 lbs. tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed, leave whole

2 tsp. dried Mexican Oregano

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 c. chopped cilantro

juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp. masa

Queso fresco or Jack cheese and Tortillas for serving

 

1.  Put the chicken thighs and stock or water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.  Cover and bring the stock to a boil over medium heat.  Once the liquid has started boiling , uncover, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking until the thighs are cooked.

2.  Place a large strainer or colander over a large bowl and drain the thighs.  Reserve the stock and set the thighs aside to cool.

**If you’re using a pre-cooked chicken, you can skip steps 1 & 2.** 

3.  While the thighs are cooling, turn the heat on the stove back up to medium-high.  Add the oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic,  Saute until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Sauteing the onions and garlic.

Sauteing the onions and garlic.

4.  Add the serranos.  Saute another 2 – 3 minutes.

How I prep the serranos. I leave the stem on and cut the serrano almost in half.

How I prep the serranos. I leave the stem on and cut the serrano almost in half.

Sauteeing the peppers with the onions and garlic.

Sauteing the peppers with the onions and garlic.

Add the chiles and saute another 2 – 3 minutes.

Adding the chiles.

Adding the chiles.

 

Add the tomatillos and mix them in well.

The perfect tomatillo.

The perfect tomatillo.

Choose tomatillos that are firm and the outer husk peels away easily.  You don’t want tomatillos that are too small for the husk.  They’re generally old and dehydrated.  The tomatillo will be sticky when you peel off the husk, so be sure to wear gloves.

Adding the tomatilos to the saucepan.

Adding the tomatilos to the saucepan.

5.  Add the spices and cook until they begin to have a scent.  About another 2 – 3 minutes.

Adding the spices.

Adding the spices.

6.  Add the reserved stock back into the pan.

Adding the broth.

Adding the broth.

Cover and bring to a boil.  Uncover the saucepan, lower the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the tomatillos have softened, about 20 – 30 minutes.

Bringing the broth to a boil.

Boiling the tomatillos.

7.  Meanwhile, skin, bone, and shred the chicken.  Set aside.

The shredded chicken.

The shredded chicken. Not pretty. But delicious.

8.  Make a slurry.  Take the masa and add 2 – 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid or water.  Mix together until smooth.  Set aside.

9.  Once the tomatillos are soft, remove the saucepan from the heat.  Take a potato masher and carefully mash the tomatillos.

 

Mashing the tomatillos.

Mashing the tomatillos.

Place the saucepan back on the heat and cook for another 20 minutes.  Be sure to stir frequently.  Taste for seasoning.

10.  Add the slurry and mix in well.  Add the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice.

Adding the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice.

Adding the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice.

Cook for another 5 – 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.  Taste for seasoning.  Stir frequently.

11.  Serve with tortillas and a little queso fresco or shredded jack cheese.

Dinner!

Dinner!

 

Now, If you have some leftover chili, and I’m sure you will, here’s a great way to use it.

Take a couple of toastada shells and break them into large pieces on a plate. (Or, you can use tortilla chips.) Take a skillet and set it over medium heat.  Add a little vegetable oil and heat.  Add roughly 1 cup of the chili.  Heat the chili and stir frequently.  Spread the chili out as evenly as possible over the bottom of the skillet and crack 2 eggs on top of the chili.  Cover the skillet and turn the heat to medium-low.

I generally like to spoon some of the warm chili over the top of the eggs to help with cooking. Carefully use a rubber spatula to get under the chili and eggs so the chili doesn’t stick to the pan and burn.

Let the eggs poach in the chili until they’re done to your liking.  I generally like my eggs soft, so I’ll let them cook about 5 minutes.

When the eggs are done, carefully scoop out the chili and eggs and place them over the broken toastada shells.

Yummy.

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

 

Enjoy!

 

Mole Rojo 0

Posted on October 30, 2012 by Sahar

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:

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Mole Rojo (Red Mole) is a slightly sweet, moderately spicy mole.  You can certainly adjust the heat as you like.

The Ingredients

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)

-or-

4 – 4-1/2 lbs. chicken (whole chicken or leg quarters)

 

6 ea. ancho chiles

-or-

3 tbsp. ancho chile powder

 

6 ea. pasilla chiles

-or-

3 tbsp. pasilla chile powder

 

1 ea. chipotle chile

-or-

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

1/4 c.masa

Clockwise from top: Raw Almonds, whole Garlic Cloves, Raisins

Clockwise from top: Ancho Chile Powder, Pasilla Chile Powder, Chipotle Chile Powder

Clockwise from top: Mexican Chocolate, Pepper, Brown Sugar, ground Cinnamon, ground Cloves, Salt

 

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.

Cooking the pork. If you get a bone with a shoulder cut, use it in the broth. If you’re using chicken, make sure you use the bones & skin. You’ll add more flavor to the stock.

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.

Toasting the chile powders.

 

Pour the toasted powder onto a plate and allow to cool.

Cooling the toasted chile powder

 

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.

Browning the onions.

Browning the tomatoes

Browning the tomatillos and garlic cloves

 

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.

Frying the almonds.

 

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.

Frying the raisins.

 

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.

Toasted chile powder, fried raisins, ground almonds

 

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.

Mixing the ingredients into the stock.

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.

The sauce after 45 minutes. It will thicken as it cooks.

 

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.

Chopped pork ready for the sauce.

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.)

Pureeing the mole sauce.

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.

Adding the roux and chocolate.

 

Cook for 5 minutes, then taste for seasoning.  Add the meat back to the sauce.  Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Mole sauce after adding the roux and chocolate.

11.  Serve the mole with rice and corn tortillas.

¡Cena delicioso!

The finished mole.

 

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.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mole Verde 5

Posted on October 09, 2012 by Sahar

I love mole. For me, it’s another one of those comfort foods that always make me happy. It’s also one of the great things about growing up in a state where the Mexican influence in food is so prevelant.

 One of the origin myths of mole has the nuns of Convent Santa Rosa in the 16th Century anticipating a visit from the Archbishop.  They were a rather impoverished convent and had nothing to serve him.  In their panic, they cooked together what they could find – seeds, chocolate, day-old bread, nuts – and cooked it for hours into a sweet, thick sauce.  They added the only meat they had, an old turkey, and served it to the Archbishop.  He loved it.

Whew…

Little did the nuns of Santa Rosa know, they invented the National Dish of Mexico.  While it is mostly prepared for the holidays, it can be eaten any time of year.

All moles are very time consuming, labor intensive, and require many ingredients. Some sources state that some moles have as many as 100 ingredients, but that’s almost certainly an exaggeration (but, who knows). However, 30 ingredients isn’t unheard of, and some mole recipes can list 10 different varieties of chiles. Other ingredients can include: peanuts, almonds, fried bread, plantains, lard, sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, and cloves.

It is said there are seven types of mole:

Mole Poblano – The most popular of mole sauces used today is mole poblano. It is what is considered the “national dish” of Mexico throughout the world. mole poblano originated in the state of Puebla and is made up of more than 20 different ingredients. The main ingredients are chili peppers and chocolate (which gives mole poblano its distinctive flavor and dark color). It has a slight sweetness to it.

Mole Negro (black)  –  While the region of Oaxaca is considered “the land of the seven moles,” its main mole is mole negro. This version of mole  is darker than the traditional mole poblano, but has the same rich flavor. Mole negro is known for being the most difficult mole sauces to make, due to its large ingredient list that contains chili peppers, chocolate, onions, garlic, seeds, spices, nuts and hoja santa. Hoja santa is a plant that gives mole negro is distinctive flavor and color.

  It is also generally sweeter than Mole Poblano.

Mole Verde (green) – Mole verde originated in the region of Oaxaca and gets its name from its green color. This color is achieved by using toasted pumpkin seeds, romaine lettuce, cilantro and tomatillos. Mole verde is has a milder flavor than most of the other mole sauces, and is popular in dishes that contain chicken.

Rojo (red) – Can be made from guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, pecans, tomatoes, peanuts, chocolate, garlic, onions and spices.

  It has a medium-heat depending on the amount and types of chiles used.

Mole Amarillo (yellow) Made from ancho chiles, guajillo chiles, tomatillos, spices, cilantro, and the aromatic herb hoja santa.

Mole de cacahuate (peanut) –  Made from peanuts and chiles.
Mole chichilo is made from pasilla chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos, spices and masa harina.

Mole coloradito (red Oaxacan) – Made from ancho chiles, almonds, tomatoes, seeds, bananas and spices.

(information sources: www.wikipedia.org; www.mexonline.com; www.ehow.com)

One of these days, I’m going to make all of these.

Now, on to the recipe:

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The ingredients

 

Mole Verde is a pipian-style mole from Puebla.  The ingredients are all fresh, there’s no chocolate, and there are seeds (usually pumpkin) in the sauce.

3 lbs. chicken

Chicken broth or water

1/2 c. pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds, unsalted)

2 tsp. cumin seeds

2 tsp. Mexican oregano (I used dried)

1 1/2 tsp. Marjoram (I used dried)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 med white onion, peeled, stem end left on, cut into 1/4’s

4 lg. garlic cloves, peeled, stem end cut off

3 jalapenos

3 poblano peppers

8 tomatillos, papery skin removed and rinsed

1 c. packed spinach leaves

1 bunch clantro, large stem ends trimmed off

1/2 c. chopped parsley

 

1.  Place the chicken pieces into a large pot with just enough chicken broth or water to cover.  Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the chicken simmer until done.  Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside until cool enough to handle and shred.  Discard the skin and bones (unless you want to save the bones for stock).

2.  Heat a heavy skillet on high.  Dry roast the pepitas and cumin seeds.  Stir frequently to keep them from burning.  As soon as the pepitas begin to brown and pop and the cumin seeds begin to have a fragrance pour the seeds onto a plate and let cool.

Dry roasting the pepitas and cumin seeds.

Using a coffee grinder (one that you use only for spices), grind the seeds into a powder.  You’ll need to do this in batches.

The ground seeds. They smell great. Really.

3.  Have a bowl covered with plastic or a large zip bag nearby.  Dry roast the jalapenos and poblanos in the skillet on all sides until the skin is blackened and blistered.  It’s OK if the skin isn’t blistered evenly and there’s still some green.  (Alternately, don’t leave the chiles on the heat for too long or they’ll turn gray.  At that point, you’ve gone too far.)

Dry roasting the chiles and garlic.

Dry roasting the poblanos.

Place the chiles in the bowl and cover or place in the bag and seal.  Allow the chiles to steam to loosen their skins.  Leave until cool enough to handle.

4.  Continue dry roasting with the onion (cut off the stem end after you’ve roasted the onion), garlic, and tomatillos.  Again, you just want to have some black spots.  Make sure you don’t overcook the tomatillos.  You don’t want them to come apart in the skillet.

Roasting the onion.

Roasting the tomatillos.

5.  Remove the chiles from the bag or bowl and peel off as much of the charred skin as you can.

The peeled chiles. Ready for seeding.

Remove the stems and seeds from the poblanos and the stems from the jalapenos.  Depending on how mild or spicy you would like the mole, keep or remove as many of the seeds and membranes from the jalapenos as you like.

5.  Add the oregano, marjoram, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, jalapenos, spinach, cilantro, and parsley to 4 cups of the chicken broth.  Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly before pureeing.

The ingredients cooking away.

7.  Meanwhile, if you haven’t done so already, shred the chicken.  Discard the skin.  Discard or save the bones for stock.

8.  Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground pepitas and cumin.  Add 1/2 cup of the stock and make a paste.  Take the skillet off the heat and set aside.

9.  In a food processor or blender in batches, or with a stick blender in the pot, puree the broth and vegetables until as smooth as you prefer.  Place the pot back on the stove over medium-high heat and add the paste into the mole mixture.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes.  The mole will thicken slightly.  Taste for seasoning.

10.  Add the chicken back into the mole and cook another 5 minutes to heat the chicken through.  Serve with rice and tortillas.

 

Note:  I somehow lost some of the photos I took while I was making this dish.  However, you can see the finished mole here: http://weareaustin.com/news/features/morning/stories/vid_8.shtml

Yes. I did a TV spot.  And I was very nervous.

If you would like to see even more mole recipes and even some cajeta cheesecake, I’ll be teaching this class on Friday, October 19 at Central Market North Lamar.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 



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