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Mole Rojo para Enamorarse

Mole Rojo para Enamorarse

Every time I think of mole my memory goes first to my paternal grandmother and great inspiration, my Tita, as she was the ultimate mole queen and cook galore. My second thought goes to Laura Esquivel's novel 'Como Agua para Chocolate' or 'Like Water for Chocolate', the main character, also named Tita (crazy coincidence, maybe all Tita's make the best mole) says something about love which I think can be applied to cooking, especially the cooking of such an intricately delicate dish like mole, she says "El amor no se piensa, o se siente o no se siente" or "You don't have to think about love, either you feel it or you don't". When you endeavor on a dish like mole, the task sometimes seems so daunting with almost 30 ingredients on your list, that you feel it or you don't. Like Tita in Laura Esquivel's novel when she wasn't feeling it her food could basically poison her guests but when she was in the mood her guests could feel it from very deep within ;)

So I invite you to be brave and try one of Mexico's most beautiful dishes the Mole, and to send you off with extra courage and love I share with you the Mole Rojo, so make it with love, for a loved one, a husband, boyfriend, or soon to be, and you'll see how they'll be swooning after just one bite!

Ingredients

Serves 10-12 people

9 oz / 255g mulato chiles, stemmed and seeded
Pinch of aniseeds
Pinch of cumin seeds
2 black peppercorns
2 allspice berries
2 cloves
½ cinnamon stick
4 to 6 Tbsp / 50 to 75g lard
2 whole chickens, cut into serving-size pieces
¼ cup / 30g pine nuts
3 Tbsp / 30 g pumpkin seeds
Scant ¼ cup / 30g black raisins
3 Tbsp / 30 g almonds
¼ cup / 30g hazelnuts
3 Tbsp / 30 g peanuts
¼ cup / 30g pecans
3 Tbsp / 30 g sesame seeds
6 Ritz or other rich-tasting crackers
1 corn tortilla
2 slices fluffy white bread (dinner roll or ciabatta)
½ white onion, coarsely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 very ripe (black) plantain, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large garlic clove
5 oz / 140g semisweet chocolate
¼ cup / 60ml water
6 cups / 1.4L chicken stock

Directions

First, lightly toast the chiles by placing them on a hot, ungreased comal or in a skillet over medium heat, turning them constantly as they heat up and begin to release their fragrance. Before they turn brown, remove them from the heat and submerge them in a bowl of water to let them soak and soften while you prepare everything else.

Next, you are going to toast all of the spices on your hot, dry comal or in an ungreased skillet. You should do this in batches because they have different toasting times, beginning with the ones that will toast the fastest: the anise and cumin. As soon as you can smell these toasted seeds, take them off the comal or skillet and place them in a spice grinder. Now do the same with the peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon stick. After they’re toasted, add them to your spice grinder and grind the spices together. Dump the ground spices into a large bowl. You will be frying things in batches that you will be adding to this bowl. Eventually, all of this will go into the blender, but for now, you need a place to store the mole ingredients as you prepare them to be blended together.

Now sear the chicken that you are going to cook in the sauce. Melt 4 Tbsp / 50g of the lard in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. When the lard has melted completely and is shimmering, place as many pieces of the chicken in the pot as you can fit without crowding. The goal here is to brown each piece, so be sure they’re not overlapping. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and flip them over so that both sides get seared. When they look golden, using tongs, transfer them to a platter and repeat with the rest of the chicken pieces, adding more lard to the pan as needed.

The chicken should be just seared and not be cooked though at this stage because it will continue cooking in the mole sauce.

Once you’re finished searing the chicken, keep whatever grease and drippings remain in the Dutch oven or skillet to fry other things. You want about ½ inch / 12mm of shimmering oil in the bottom of the pan, and you will have to add more lard as needed. You are going to be frying the nuts and seeds in batches because, depending on their sizes, they will cook at different rates. You are looking for each thing to turn golden but not dark brown.

Begin with the pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and raisins. Once you can smell the fragrance of these nuts and seeds and they look golden, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them in the big bowl with the spices. Now fry the almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and pecans until they are fragrant and golden and then add them to the big bowl. Fry the sesame seeds by themselves, being extra careful to monitor them the whole time and moving them around with a wooden spoon or spatula as they fry because they can burn quickly. Add the sesame seeds to the big bowl.

Remember to add more lard to the pan when you need it, since the nuts and seeds will likely have soaked it up. Once the added lard has melted and is shimmering, fry the Ritz crackers very briefly, because they burn fast, then the tortilla, and finally the bread, placing it all in the big bowl with all of the previously toasted and fried ingredients. Add more lard if needed and fry the onion, tomatoes, plantain, and garlic until everything is golden and a bit stewy, then add it all to the big bowl.

In a small saucepot, combine the chocolate with the water and heat until the chocolate melts. Turn off the heat while you blend your sauce ingredients. Due to the amount of volume here, you are going to need to blend your sauce in batches. Know that from this point on, everything is getting blended together and then simmered, so the order in which you blend things doesn’t much matter.

You want a ratio of about 1:1 of stock to solid ingredients. I would suggest blending a couple of cups of solids at a time (4 cups / 960ml total, including the stock). When the contents of the blender are liquefied, dump it into your largest stockpot and then repeat the process. Finally, blend the soaked chiles with the remaining stock and add this to your pot, along with the melted chocolate, and stir well to combine.

Bring the mole to a simmer over medium-low heat. Drop the chicken into the pot and cover. Let it simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, then serve. The mole can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Recipe Courtesy of “My Mexico City Kitchen” Cookbook.