A few months ago I had tried making molé for the first time, based on a recipe by Ty and Juels. This was one of our Sunday challenges before I started writing this blog. I found Ty’s recipe, but I could not help myself, I had to make some changes. That is just the kind of cook I am, I even have trouble following my own recipes. I rarely make the same dish the same way twice, I am constantly tinkering.
I had a lot of trouble finding the Mulato chilies for this recipe. Marina and Chavez Markets had the other three chilies, but not the Mulato. I finally found them at Fresco World Market in the East Ridge Center.
In the past I have always used molé as a simmer sauce for my chicken. I took several ideas from a restaurant featured on Triple D. Her molé had about 30 ingredients. In reading about molé, this is the average number of ingredients for a traditional molé poblano. I would not go that far, but avocado, pepita and raisins seemed like good additions, but the big brick of charcoal did not (even if in Mexican traditional medicine it is considered a carminative). I am also planning on using this molé as a sauce to pour over pulled pork tamales.
I view this blog as my equivalent to my mother’s recipe box and my primary audience as my two daughters. This is my way of sharing my love of world food with them and passing on the tips and tricks I have learned along the way. Miriam I am sure is reading it now and Eilene, who is just starting to be interested in cooking, will one day read it to replicate the meals she is eating now. I am constantly exploring new cuisines and when I make a dish I sometimes notice things that not mentioned by the people native to that dish. It is not that what I noticed is not important; it is that it is just too obvious to them to point out. For example:
Tip: When you are removing the seeds from dried chilies, they tend to fly all over the place. Put a cutting plastic in a large lipped baking sheet and it will help you catch most if the mess.
Note: This recipe makes a lot of molé (6-8 cups) and has a lot of steps and processing. Plan to make this sauce the day before your meal or start very early in the day. The original recipe I adapted this from used all of this sauce for 1 whole chicken. If you have ever bought molé in the store, it is usually sold in 1 cup containers to use with a whole chicken. The first time I made this my chicken was well sauced after I had only used a third of the recipe, any more would have been overkill. This sauce freeze very well and I kept the remaining sauce in two packages for later Mexican mole dinners.
Karl’s Molé Poblano
4 dried mulato chiles
4 dried ancho chiles (sold as pasilla chilies, dried poblano)
4 dried guajillo chiles
4 dried pasilla chilies (sold as chili negro, I have no idea about the name confusion)
3 tbsp. corn oil (or lard left over from the roast pork)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup pepita (pumpkin seeds)
½ cup unskinned almonds
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 tsp of reserved pepper seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
½ tsp. black peppercorn
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
6 whole cloves
1 plantain, peeled and chopped
¼ cup masa harina (or 3 corn tortillas)
½ cup golden raisins
1 can (14 oz.) fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 can low sodium chicken broth
1 bottle dark Mexican beer
1 tablet of Mexican chocolate, chopped into small chunks
3.5 oz. extra dark chocolate (85%+)
1. Remove the stems, veins and seeds from the chilies. Rip or chop the chilies coarsely.
Tip: Wear latex surgical gloves while handling the chilies.
2. Heat the 1 Tbs. of corn oil in an 8 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chilies and sauté until the chilies are fragrant, about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn them. Remove the chilies and place them in a large bowl.
Tip: In steps 2 and 4 you should stir constantly so that the ingredients are equally toasted and do not burn.
3. Without wiping the Dutch oven, add a second tablespoon of oil and sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the onions and garlic to the bowl with the chilies.
4. Without wiping out the Dutch oven, add the pepita, almonds and pine nuts. Toast them for one minute and then add the sesame seeds, reserved pepper seeds, cumin, coriander seeds, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. Continue toasting the mixture for another minute. Be careful not to burn the spices. Put the nuts/spices into a small bowl to cool for a minute and then pour them into a blender.
5. Cover the blender and grind the nuts and spices to a fine power. Grind this mixture well; you do not want to end up with a gritty sauce. Return the spice mixture to the bowl, but do not clean out the blender.
7. Add the remaining oil to the Dutch oven and sauté the plantain pieces until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the masa harina to the Dutch oven and toast it lightly for about two minutes, until it is golden brown. (If using corn tortillas toast on both sides, turning often, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove and chop coarsely.)
8. Add the chili/onion mix, avocado, raisins, tomatoes, tomato paste and the chicken broth to the Dutch oven and simmer over medium heat to blend the flavors and soften the chillies, about 10 minutes. Add more liquid if the sauce is too thick and stir frequently. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool.
9. Puree the mixture in the blender, working in small batches, until smooth. Add a generous amount of beer/chicken broth, as needed, to make a smooth sauce; it should be a bit thin at this point. Push the blended sauce through a medium sieve to catch any chunks. Run any chunks through the blender with the next batch until the sauce is completely smooth. Pour the sauce into the Dutch oven.
10. Bring the sauce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for at least one hour, stirring frequently so that it does not stick to the bottom and scorch. Depending on how long you simmer your sauce, you may need to add more beer/chicken broth. The molé should be fairly thick, but not a paste.
Tip: Be careful, like a camel, it spits.
9. Break the chocolate into chunks and stir into the sauce and continue cooking over low heat until the chocolate is melted and melded with the sauce (5-10 minutes).
10. Use the molé as a sauce to pour over pork or chicken. It may also be used as a simmer sauce.