Better Eating Through Applied Chemistry!
I'll always remember my first taste of mole sauce. We'd travel out to Uncle Gene & Aunt Hilda's place, and watch for hours as cousin Johnny would slowly creep around their backyard on his hands & knees, listening to noises underground via the rolled-up Metro section of the Bryan/College Station Eagle. Suddenly, he'd leap to his feet, grab the 4-tine garden pitchfork he'd been dragging behind him with a length of baling wire, and commence to aerating the soil until you'd hear a muted squeal and see a geyser of blood. He'd pull up a perforated mole stuck on that pitchfork, and we knew dinner was but a few minutes away!
OK, I'm *so* making that story up...
Mole sauce has nothing to do with subterranean earthworm-eating mammals. Mole sauces are part of traditional Mexican cuisine. (Not Tex-Mex!) The most common version is called Mole poblano, which is made with dried chile peppers, nuts, spices, Mexican chocolate, salt, and a few other odds & ends. There's dozens of versions of mole sauces.
You've probably been eating a mole sauce for years, and never thought about it. Ever mix up some mashed avocados with chopped onion & 'maters, lime juice, peppers and spices? Yup, Guacamole is just another type of mole sauce.
The first time I had Mole poblano was in a restaurant called Ojeda's up in Dallas. I got two chicken legs & thighs on a bed of rice covered in this rich brown sauce. I had no clue what the hell it was, since I'd ordered the chicken tamales. It smelled too good to send back to the kitchen, though, so I dug in con mucho gusto
, and have loved mole sauce ever since.
You can buy bottled or packaged mole sauce, but it's nowhere near as good as fresh made sauce. It's also easy to make, so give this recipe a whirl next time you want an interesting and tasty meal.
Note: Most recipes for mole sauces and chili powders start tossing out types of peppers including ancho, pasilla negro, guajillo, mulato, poblano, chipotle
, etc. Also, you'll be told to pull chiles
off your ristra
, grind 'em in your molcajete
and toast 'em on a '76 Monte Carlo hubcap over a burro-poop fire. Ignore all that for now. Start using commercial ingredients, and as you get more comfortable with the recipe, feel free to crank up the autentico
1 medium sized mole.
Sorry, scratch that...
2 large white onions, chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp anise seed
3 tbsp chili powder***
2 tsp sugar (or piloncillo)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
3-4 cups chicken broth, divided in half
1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tbsp raisins
3 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste
1 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp sesame seeds
10-12 boneless chicken breast filets "chicken fingers"
In a large skillet saute the onion in the oil over moderately high heat until it's golden brown.
In mortar or spice grinder, crush the coriander seeds and anise seeds. Stir into the sauteed onions along with the chili powder, sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
Cook the mixture over medium heat for about a minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the cocoa powder, the peanut butter, 2 cups of the chicken broth, the tomatoes, raisins, garlic paste and salt.
Drop a lid on the skillet, and simmer sauce for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it starts to smell so good you want to pour it on the linoleum floor and roll around in it, take the sauce off the heat and let it cool while you cook the chicken.
Rub the chicken fingers with salt and pepper and a bit of vegetable oil. Pan-fry or broil the fingers until both sides are golden brown.
While the chicken is browning, puree the sauce in a blender or food processor, or use one of those blender wands. Add the remaining broth if you need to thin the sauce. If you're feeling fancy, force the sauce through a sieve to get all the stringy bits out.
If you used a blender or food processor to puree the sauce, pour it back into the skillet, add the chicken fingers, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or so.
Serve over rice, and sprinkle with sesame seeds just before serving!
Ole! Viva La Mole!***
- Note about chili powder!
While fresh-made chili powder is always better, pre-made is certainly acceptable. I prefer Gebhardt's Chili Powder
, but there's others that'll work as well.CHILE
powder is one kind of chile pepper ground into a powder. CHILI
powder is a mix of chile powders and other ingredients used to flavor chili and as a dry rub for meats.
El Capitan's Swollen Blowin' Colon Chili Powder recipe is as follows:
1/2 cup Ancho chile powder
1/2 cup red New Mexico chile powder
1/2 cup Chipotle chile powder
5 tablespoons toasted and ground cumin seeds
4 tablespoons onion powder
4 tablespoons Mexican oregano
3 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground allspice
Put it all in a jar. Shake well. Don't rub your eyes for 3 weeks.