Movie Inspired Recipes


Television Inspired Recipes


Book Inspired Recipes

Wishing you Mole and a Happy New Year!

 What a surprising thing blogging has been to me. Last year at this time, if somebody asked me what a blog was...I would have just given a shrug...the kind that includes raised eyebrows and wide eyes. I had just begun to see the term around, but hadn't yet sit down to investigate what it was all about. I'm sure I probably started by googling the word blog...and wouldja look at me now. Here I am, sitting in front of my computer, trying to put together one last post of the year. A post with my favorite meal...or food...or maybe flavor...whatever it is, it's my absolute favorite above all others...this year or any year.

I started making mole about 10 years ago. Actually, I think it was exactly 10 years ago this holiday season! Did you know that red molé is actually the national dish of Mexico? Even though, it is actually a sauce. A sauce, that is delicious with anything from poultry to carnitas to vegetables! And in Mexico, families (and family members) each have their own special molé ingredients and proportions. In ritual, they gather the most beautiful dried chiles...the kind that are still pliable...spices, dried nuts and fruits...and another star (usually homemade, too), Mexican chocolate. Yes, this is the sauce that some people call the "chile and chocolate sauce." But don't let that fool you, because it is SOOOOOO much more. Yes, they both add to the fabulous, earthen complexity of the sauce...but they are not alone. Look for dried chiles that are supple and want them to bend. You want the warm smell to envelope you when you get near them. If they are hard and brittle...and you can't smell them...then why use them? I am fortunate enough to have homemade Mexican chocolate from a friends mami in Mexico, but the kind you can find at the market are very, very close in quality. Plump tomatillos and sticky raisins...thick bread...and the nuttiness of almonds and sesame seeds are more of the ingredients in this mole. Round it out with some piloncillo (or brown sugar if you can't find any) and some warm spices (freshly ground in w/ a mortar & pestle or in a spice grinder) and you're on your way. Molé takes a good day to make correctly. And you want to make it correctly! It'll show. I originally learned from the master and have tweaked and adapted over the years in order to make this molé mine, but I owe so much to Rick Bayless and his welcoming, instructional method of teaching through both his books and his tv show. Make your first batch from a trusted recipe, and then adapt from there. Mexicans themselves ask me how I learned to make this. They swoon just as much as I do. Just as the hubs...otherwise referred to as mexi...he'll tell you it's true. I can't even tell you the number of times I've been told... "You can get married now!" Good to know ;) This is what they tell a girl/woman in Mexico once she can truly cook.

Well. But, any occasion is a special occasion if you add, I'm adding mole to this New Year's Eve. 
Mole Rojo / Mole Poblano
yield ~1½ gallons (yes, it's a lot...but you'll want to share it and eat it for a while)

7 medium tomatillos

⅔ c. sesame seeds, toasted then cooled and whizzed in a spice grinder

½ c. vegetable oil or good rendered pork lard

6 oz. mulato chiles, seeded & stemmed & ripped in half

3 oz. ancho chiles, seeded & stemmed & ripped in half

3 oz. pasilla chiles, seeded & stemmed & ripped in half

9 garlic cloves, peeled

1 c. (~4½ oz.) whole, skin on almonds

1 c. raisins

1 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp. freshly ground anise

¼ tsp. freshly ground cloves

2 slices thick, firm country bread, toasted dark

1 tablet of Mexican chocolate (~3 oz.)

~½ c. piloncillo or brown sugar


Begin by gathering your mise en'll be glad you did. Seed & stem your chiles...wipe 'em free of any loose dirt if necessary. Husk your tomatillos and rinse them. Toast your sesame seeds and grind them. Peel your garlic cloves, darkly toast your bread, and measure out all of your other ingredients. This is going to take either one very large pot or two pretty large ones (I usually use two 5-quart pots). Just start everything in one pot and do the dividing once you have the puree made. Also, go ahead and roast your tomatillos under the broiler until blackened and soft. Add those to a large bowl with the ground sesame seeds.

Next, heat your oil in the pot and quickly fry your cleaned chiles, in batches. It'll only take ~20-30 seconds total per batch. Remove them to a separate large bowl. Once they are all fried, cover with hot tap water and cover with a plate (to submerge them). Let sit to "plump" for ~30 minutes. Make sure to remove any stray seeds from the oil. In the same hot oil, fry the garlic cloves and almonds until they both turn golden and smell out of this world. Remove them to the bowl with the tomatillos and sesame seeds. Add the raisins and sauté until they plump up...and they will puff right up, it's pretty cool to watch. Remove them to the tomatillo bowl. Add the toast, chocolate (broken up a bit) and ground spices to the bowl with the tomatillos.

Transfer the chiles to a blender (in batches) and add a total of 5-6 c. of the soaking liquid to help them blend up. Transfer to a food mill, set over a bowl and turn the mill to release all of the liquid and leave the skins behind. I did this for years actually pushing through a worked, but I'd be sweating by the time I was done...a food mill is a breeze!
At this point, turn the heat back on under your pot(s). They should still have a thin coat of oil on the bottom, if not, add a little. Once it is really hot, add the chile puree and lower heat a bit...cook down until it is the consistency of tomato paste, ~15 minutes. Watch out! This splatters like crazy! And it's messy. Very, very messy.

While this is going on, add the contents of the tomatillo bowl (in batches) to your blender (no need to clean jar) along with a couple cups of water, as needed. Once it is all ground up, pass it through the food mill, back into the bowl. Add this puree to the pot once the chiles have cooked down. Stir & let cook back down to the consistency of tomato paste, ~10 minutes more. I recommend grease splatter-guards or a face mask to guard from splatters. Add 3 quarts of water to the pot(s) and bring to a boil. Partially cover and lower to a gentle simmer. Simmer for ~1 hour, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (napé). You can always thin it out with a little water if necessary. Add the piloncillo and ~3 tsp. of salt. should be spicy and slightly sweet and earthy and rich...and perfectly silky...all at the same time. Adjust seasoning as necessary. I let it cool down and then transfer to jars or containers for storing or sharing.
Now, use as you thing I like to do is to brown some chicken or turkey...but this time chicken (4 1/2 lbs. thighs & legs). Drain fat from pan, then pour a quart of mole over the chicken, cover and finish cooking. I then shred it all up and eat it with rice and queso fresco and cilantro...
 ...wrapped in tortillas.
 But, if you want to know my honest to goodness favorite way to eat is basically, as is. I toast some tortillas and stuff them with queso fresco &/or avocado slices, then dip them in hot molé. It is sheer ecstasy!!!

Another surprise...all of the amazing people I've met out here in blog-land!! I am so happy to have met and worked with so many wonderful souls...and to have made some genuine friends along the way. Thank you for such an amazing first year here in the world of blogging. I wish you all a safe, healthy and blessed New Year!!