I participated in a smackdown challenge on the newsgroup alt.binaries.food.The challenge was to make a complicated dish, something you haven't made before and that is out of your comfort zone, or using an unusual ingredient.
I chose to make Mole. I have been wanting to try it for a long time but never got around to it, this was the perfect opportunity to do so.
Yes, it is worth the trouble. Yes, I'd do it again, it's freaking delicious.
It_is_spicy, as DH says it has some "happenings." The flavors are well blended, not one thing stands out from the rest. For my taste it could use a little salt, and I'm not a big salt user.
I involved several people at work as taste testers, I wanted true honest opinions.It got mixed reviews, some thought it was too bitter, one thought it was too sweet, and some thought it wasn't like mole at all.Others thought it was a perfect blending of all components, and could taste a little of each in every bite.
The recipe is at the end of the post. Here is what I did First the spices were dry toasted
Separating the seeds
from the chiles, the seeds and chiles need to be toasted.
According to the recipe the fumes can be overpowering, it was nice outside so I fixed myself a gin and tonic and enjoyed the outdoors
Toasted these babies outdoors, don't stand downwind they are pungent
Quickly ran the chiles under running water and toasted just enough to dry off, I had to be careful not to burn them
Toasted the onion and garlic outdoors also good thing, because they were strong
Back inside I toasted the seeds and nuts It was hard to keep from munching on them they were delicious
The chiles soaked in hot boiling water for half an hour and the seeds soaked in room temp water for an hour and a half with two changes of water
Grinding the nuts into a nice puree.I ground them again the next day, I didn't think the puree was smooth enough
Pureed dried fruits
and plantains with the sherry
Grinding chiles and seeds wow!! what a mess, I had chile puree all over the place
Put the pureed chile and seeds through a sieve
This is how I like to eat it
This recipe was originally posted by Kay Hartman on
I left her personal notes intact.
TammyM and Victor Sack on rfc were nice enough to help me in my search for a terrific mole recipe.
Mole Negro de Oaxaca Oaxaca City-style Mole
About 2 quarts
12 whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
One 2-inch piece of canela
1/4 cup dried Oaxacan oregano or 2 tablespoons dried Mexican
1 pound chilhuacles negros or 8 ounces each of mulato and guajillo
chiles, tops removed
1/2 to 1 cup lard (preferably home-rendered) or as needed
1/2 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecan or walnut meats [I used pecans]
1 1/2 cups dry sherry [The only sherry I had on hand was Amontillado
so that's what I used]
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 cup pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
1 cup pitted dried apricots, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter (or omit and use part of the lard) [I did not
use any butter. I had this beautiful lard that Jack and I
rendered and I used that.]
1 large very ripe plantain, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 to 5 cups homemade chicken stock, or as needed
1/2 unpeeled head of garlic (about 8 large cloves)
1 large or 2 medium unpeeled onions [I used white onions]
2 large ripe tomatoes
5 to 6 large tomatillos, husks removed
One 3-ounce tablet Mexican chocolate or 3 cakes or 1 cup homemade
chocolate blend [I used 8 ounces of La Bellaza Stone Ground
Heat a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat and prepare to toast
the spices. Add the peppercons and cloves; heat, shaking the pan and
stirring constantly, until their aroma is released, about 1
minute. Empty into a small bowl. Add the canela to the pan and toast the same way for about 1 minute; add to the pepper and cloves.
Toast the dried oregano the same way until fragrant and add it to the other spices. Grind the toasted spices together in an electric coffee or spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
Remove the tops from the chiles. Carefully shake out and reserve the seeds. Reserve the chiles separately.
Wipe the skillet clean. Raise the heat to high and add the reserved
chile seeds. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until charred and
black all over. (Because of the fumes, this is best done outdoors
if you have the means.) [I did this indoors but I have a good range hood. I had the fan going and the kitchen door to the backyard open. The fumes were tolerable under these circumstances, but just
barely.] You can speed up the process by sprinkling a few drops of vegetable oil over the seeds and very carefully igniting the oil with a match, standing well back from the flames and taking care to
shield your face, clothing, and hair. [Is it just me or does this sound too dangerous? I took the slow approach.] Place the burned chile seeds in a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 1 1/2
hours, changing the water twice. Drain and reserve.
While the chile seeds soak, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of the lard in a
heavy medium-size skillet over medium heat. When the fat ripples, add
the sesame seeds and cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly
and shaking the pan, just until lightly golden. Immediately scrape out the seeds into a heatproof bowl. Add a little more lard to the pan, heat, and cook the peanuts in the same way, about 3 minutes or
until lightly browned. Add to the bowl with the sesame seeds. Cook the slivered almonds, then the pecans, in the same way, allowing about 3 minutes cooking time for each. Add a little more fat each
time and add the toasted nuts to the sesame seeds and peanuts.
If desired, drain off the excess lard from the toasted nuts and reserve 2 tablespoons for cooking the plantain later. Let the nuts cool to room temperature. Place in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Scrape out the ground mixture into a bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the sherry until just too hot for your finger. Place the raisins and chopped dried fruits in a bowl. Pour the hot sherry over them and let soak for 30 minutes.
Heat the butter or reserved lard [I used lard] in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. When the fat is very hot, add the plantain and cook, turning several times with a spatula, until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
Working in batches as necessary, rinse and griddle-dry the reserved
seeded chiles by the directions below. As they are done, remove them to
a deep bowl. Cover generously with boiling water and let
saok for about 20 minutes.
Place the plantain, soaked fruits, and sherry in a food processor. Process, in batches if necessary, to a thick puree; scrape out into a bowl and reserve.
Drain the soaked chiles. Working in batches as necessary, place the
chiles and chile seeds in a blender, adding 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken
stock per batch, and process until smoothly pureed (4 minutes on
high), adding more stock if necessary. Working in convenient-sized batches, turn out the chile mixture into a medium-mesh sieve set over a large bowl. With a wooden spoon or pusher, force the puree
through, discarding any bits that won't go through.
Now you have 4 separate mixtures on hand; dry ground spices, ground
nuts, pureed fruits, and pureed chiles. If you wish to continue with
the recipe later, each of these things can hold for up to 4
hours (the chile mixture should be refrigerated). [I refrigerated the nuts, fruits, and chiles until the next day without problem.] When you are ready to proceed, heat a griddle or medium-size cast-iron skillet over low heat. Working in sequence, roast the garlic, onion, and tomatoes by the directions below, removing each kind as it is done and reserving it in a small bowl. While the other vegetables roast, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and drop in the tomatillos. Cook, uncovered, until they change color, about 3 minutes. Drain.
When the garlic, onion, and tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and place (with their juices) in a blender along with the tomatillos. Process until smoothly pureed (about 3 minutes onhigh).
Combine all the purees and the ground spices in a Dutch oven or
saucepan large enough to hold everything. Bring to a boil over
medium-high heat and stir in the chocolate. Reduce the heat to
medium-low. Cook, covered, stirring often, for 30 to 40 minutes to marry and develop all the flavors.
Unless otherwise directed in a recipe, remove and discard the tops
and seeds of the chiles. I leave in the veins (the hottest part), but
you can cut them away if you want to tone down the heat. Rinse the
chiles under cold running water and shake off the excess moisture, but
do not dry them. Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high
heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. A few at a time, place
the chiles on the griddle and let them heat, turning occasionally with
tongs, just until any clinging moisture is evaporated and the aroma is
released. Allow approximately 30 to 45 seconds in all per chile for
most kinds, slightly less for guajillos (which are very thin-skinned).
The chiles should just become dry, hot, and fragrant; do not allow them
to start really roasting or they will have a terrible scorched flavor.
Remove from the griddle as they are done. Most recipes will call for
placing them in a deep
bowl, covering generously with boiling water, and letting stand for about 15 to 20 minutes, then draining well.
To Griddle-Roast Onions and Garlic
Heat a heavy ungreased griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-low
heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Place the unpeeled onion
and individual unpeeled garlic cloves on the griddle. Cook,turning
frequently, until somewhat softened, about 15 to 20 minutes for small
onions, 20 to 25 minutes for medium onions, and 8 minutes for garlic
cloves. With large onions I usually cut them in half
crosswise (leaving the skin on) and roast, turning frequently, for about 20 minutes. The cut side will char, but the black bits are easily scraped off. Remove the onions or garlic cloves from the griddle; when cool enough to handle, peel them over a bowl to catch the juices.
To Griddle-Roast Tomatoes
Heat the griddle or skillet over medium heat until a drop of water
sizzles on contact. Place the tomatoes on the griddle stem side down.
(Started this way they lose less juice.) Cook, turning frequently,
until the skin is blackened and blistered all over, about 10 to 15
minutes for small to medium and 15 to 20 minutes for larger tomatoes.
Remove from the griddle to a bowl that wil hold the juices. When they
are cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin. If some tiny
blackened bits remain, they will just
add to the flavor. Be sure to save all the delicious juices and add them to the dish.