Friday, September 20, 2013

Up To My Elbows in Mole

For most of my cooking life, I’ve wanted to learn to make mole. I had mastered the art of many other Mexican dishes so why not mole?
According to a Mexican friend of mine in Chicago, making mole is too complicated, takes days and has far too many ingredients… half of them difficult if not impossible to find. 

Lesson #1: Never petition the advice of someone who has a major interest in you buying her mother’s mole.
After taking my first mole lesson last week with an abuela who can make it with her eyes closed (I was kidding but look…she did) I can honestly say it was time consuming but a lot easier than I had anticipated.
After all this time it taught me one important lesson: Be fearless in the kitchen!

Every Mexican family has its own version of mole and recipes are passed down for generations. This one is Marinia’s and she’s made mole with her mother and grandmothers for too many years to count. She turns 70 this year.
Beautifully complex with top notes of smoke and undertones of chiles, the depth of flavor had such an authenticity that even I was amazed at how few ingredients could go into a mole and still deliver that wonderful, rich taste.
In fact, her mole blew the theory that there needs to be a lot of ingredients to get the complicated flavors. This one had just 15…few by Mexican standards as some moles have 30 or more ingredients and contain over 10 different varieties of chiles.
Marinia’s son Alex had never learned to make mole so this was a lesson for him as well and as only a chef would do after the lesson was over, he immediately began to talk about his own ideas to perfect her recipe. Let the chile mixture sit for 24 hours before blending? Use a higher-grade chocolate… perhaps dark? The ideas rolled off his tongue like honey. 
Honey – oh that might be an interesting addition as well.

Stay tuned as the chef who just learned to make mole takes his mother’s historical recipe to another level.

Next lesson: Thursday.

Buen Apetito!

Marinia's Mole

Boil a whole chicken without the skin and with an onion until tender.

Remove stems and seeds from chiles and rinse well four times in a colander.
Chile Ancho, about 6 or 7, stemmed and seeded
Pisilla, about 12 or 13, stemmed and seeded
Mulato, about 6, stemmed and seeded

Wash hands thoroughly and rinse with fresh lime juice to neutralize the chile heat.

Place chiles in a saucepan with 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, sprinkle with coarse salt, cover with warm water, put on low heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Toast ½ Cup sesame seeds.

Sauté ½ cup unskinned almonds in oil.

Sauté ½ Cup raisins in the oiled pan.

To the chiles add 1 large cinnamon stick, 3 ounces chocolate, one big sprig each of marjoram and thyme. Simmer 20-25 minutes until chiles are very soft.

Remove cinnamon and herbs and then add the raisins and almonds.

Put chile mixture into blender, add sesame seeds and some of the broth from the chicken to reach desired consistency.

Sauté 2 tablespoons white onion and 3 cloves garlic in sauce pan. Add blended chile mixture, simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove onion and garlic.

Allow to set 12 - 24 hours for flavors to meld. 

Salt to taste and serve with yellow or white rice, raw onion rings and a sprinkle of sesame seeds over the chicken pieces.