A few years ago I was pouring over Frida's Fiestas, pretending I was Mexican and I came across the mole poblano recipe. I couldn't get it out of my head mainly because as I researched and inquired more, the responses I received were that it must be made with several people, it takes hours, if not days and it should be eaten as a celebration. Umm, what about that would make someone NOT want to make this!
I began making mole over six years ago and I would venture to say I learned from one of the best hostesses. I'm gonna make a blanket statement and just say that Mexican women are by far the most hospitable and endearing hostesses. I didn't just learn how to make a sauce with many uses; I learned how to be a better hostess along the way, improvise recipes and use more emotion when cooking.
Every year I make mole at least once and every year it's different. The experience is shared with different people and the results are never the same taste. Equally as delicious, but never the same. It's my proof that "Like Water for Chocolate" is the real deal, my one chance out of the year to play with magical realism and nearly the only time I don't follow a recipe. This year we made it for a holiday gift (I'll post how I packaged that, next) and it was made with myself, my husband and one friend. I think many of us have traditions and recipes that we make with families, but I love mole because the way I've started to make it is with friends, even acquaintances and never the same group. It makes the hours of stirring more enjoyable and worth every labor intensive step. I would love to hear if anyone else has any "friend" traditions?
If you want to know more about the process, that's below:
The process is simple, really and designed to be so. The ingredients are intended to always have on hand and you essentially fry everything, put all into a large pot, add vegetable or poultry based broth, blend well, strain into a clay pot and stir until you've had one too many glasses of wine or micheladas. The trick is the technique. So much can go wrong if you don't know what to look for:
- burnt chiles will make a bitter mole
- not straining thoroughly will ruin the silky texture
- not stirring properly won't release all of the flavors
Those three things alone will drive you crazy during the process and will make a much less tasty mole if you don't pay attention to them. Ummm, clearly I take my mole making very seriously :)
Recipe, adapted over the years
1/2 pound mulato chiles, deveined and seeded
3/4 pound pasilla chiles, deveined and seeded
3/4 pound ancho chiles, deveined and seeded (really any combination of these chiles are just fine. I use what I have on hand and what the market has on hand)
1/2 pound lard (I've only used lard once. Every other time I've used vegetable or olive oil)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tortillas, coarsely chopped
1/2 hard roll (I've used everything from baguettes to sliced bread to gluten free bread)
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup almonds
6 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
4 ounces sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
9 ounces Mexican chocolate
1/4 pound tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large turkey, cut in pieces and cooked in water with a carrot, leek, onion, celery stalk, garlic clove, and a few parsley sprigs (If you are not making it vegetarian, it's a good idea to make the turkey while the mole is cooking so you can have fresh broth. Otherwise, just use a boxed broth: veggie or chicken)
Saute the chiles in 5 ounces of hot lard. Chiles should be bright in color and pliable, not crispy. Remove from the skillet and place in a large stock pot.
In the same hot lard/ oil, saute the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent. Add the coarsely chopped tortillas, roll, raisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds, half of the sesame seeds, the anise seeds, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, chocolate, and tomatoes. Saute all the ingredients well, taking care to roast and toast, not burn.
Puree the mole mixture with some of the turkey broth and strain directly into a pot (preferably clay). Stir until the color changes to a deep dark red/ brown, taking care not to allow mole to stick to the bottom of pot. Run your wooden spoon along the bottom constantly. Season to taste with sugar and salt -- it should be slightly sweet. Add more turkey broth if needed, but the sauce should be thick. Add the turkey pieces, and simmer to warm thoroughly.
Serve the mole from the pot, sprinkled with the rest of the sesame seeds.
Really, if you venture to make this recipe, please please share or share your version. It's by far my favorite recipe to make :)