Alrighty then whingers, it turns out there is a growing undercurrent of distaste for food blogs that expound unnecessarily.
This does not bug me at all. I want the story. I want the history. I want some kind of cultural understanding of the dish (if this is relevant). The recipe is the climax. I want foreplay. I want the whole experience.
My Recipe Posts however will not be created in this way. All of these Posts follow on, in one way or another, from previous Posts regarding (most likely) a specific plant or herb.
Todays recipe is Mole Colorado.
I have not made this one before and it was not the recipe I intended to make. I had all my ingredients previously gathered……..
….but…..I lost the freaking recipe I wanted to use. My preferred recipe is a Teloloapan style mole and it is one that has always received good reviews. No recipe so today we improvise and adapt. I consulted my library and landed on a recipe for mole colorado in the following book.
The first thing we need to do is get all the ingredients ready. This important. Have all your stuff set out and ready to go because once you begin you wont have much time to mess around. Each ingredient will need to be processed in its own way before being blended together into your mole paste.
Some will need to be dry roasted.
Some will need to be fried in oil (or lard)
Some will need to go through the process of tatemado (1)
- from the Nahuatl tlatemati “put to the fire”; from tla-, “thing” / direct object particle, tetl , “fire” and mati , “put”), whose action is tatemar , is equivalent to soasar ( lightly roast ) a food, that is, toast it or brown it, usually on a comal , or directly over the fire. This is an important cooking process which is integral to Mexican cookery.
All will need to be blended into a paste.
First we tatemar our tomatoes, onions and garlic. Place the unpeeled ingredients on a dry (unoiled) comal or hotplate over a medium heat (it can also be done over a direct flame – greater care will be needed if using this method)
While these ingredients are roasting away we get the chiles ready. First slit them open and remove the seeds and veins of the chile. This will also have the effect of taming the heat of the chiles. The veins are the placental tissue of the chile and it is here that most of the heat is held.
Place the chiles in a heatproof bowl and cover with hot water. Soak the chiles until they are soft (for about 20 minutes)
Tomatoes are coming along nicely. You want there to be some general charring and for the tomatoes (and garlic and onion) to become soft.
Now we dry fry (toast) the spices. Do each spice separately. Crumble the cinnamon stick into pieces so it will cook evenly. You want the spices to be toasted brittle enough to be ground to a powder. This is also a good way to breathe life back into spices that are beyond their “best before” date. Cook until they are nice and fragrant. Stir constantly. DO NOT walk away from the pan. This process needs constant supervision.
I apologise for the blurred photos. I have promised to get a better camera. Its coming. Settle down.
Next I do the cloves, allspice and coriander seed. I know I just said cook them separately but I’m a bit of a rebel that way (and am experienced in the kitchen).
Last spice, anise.
If I had the appropriate avocado leaf I would have used it here. There is a variety that has an anise like scent and can be used in a manner similar to a bay leaf. Branches of avocado leaves are often used when cooking in underground pits to give flavour to the dish (e.g. barbacoa).
Now we begin on the seeds and nuts. Same process, dry fry. These will definitely need to be done one at a time as each seed/nut is a different size and density.
Now we work on the ingredients that need to be fried in a little oil (or lard).
First the plantains….cook until golden brown. One thing missing here is the understanding of the plantain. It looks like a banana but dont be fooled. When they are green you CANNOT peel them like a ‘nana. The skin will adhere to the flesh like it has been glued on. Green plantains will need their peel removed with a knife. I want my plantain to be so ripe that, if it was a banana, it would not be pleasant to eat (not unless you like over ripe bananas). A green plantain is a starchy vegetable, akin in its use to a potato, whilst a ripe sweeter plantain can be used either as a starch or a sweet fruit. Plantains will get a Post of their own in the future (1).
- not that there is also a herb/quelite called plantain. There are 2 main varieties of this herb with both medicinal and culinary uses. See Post Quelite : Plantain for more detail.
Then the raisins. These are golden raisins. I prefer them over the darker smaller varieties.
The raisins will change colour and become plump.
All my various ingredients are now ready to go.
While I was preparing the mole ingredients I got the chicken ready to go.
- 2 cloves
- 2 large allspice berries
- 3 bay leaves (or use avocado leaves if you have the right variety – see note on this earlier in the Post)
- 1/2 a white onion
- (chuck in a peeled garlic clove if you want).
- Cover with cool water (room temp – not from the fridge).
- Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid. This will complete the cooking and leave you with moist tender chicken for shredding.
Skim off any scum that rises to the top. I will use the liquid as the broth I need to dilute the mole at the end of the process.
Now we combine the ingredients.
Grind the spices to a powder. I did start off with the mortar and pestle (as shown in an earlier photo) but found it to be hard work (as the spices were not brittle enough) so I switched to my molcajete. Much better.
This recipe was bigger than my blender (which I purloined from my daughter and is essentially only for making smoothies)
Not the actual model I used but it’s very similar (and not designed for what I needed but hey we’re improvising). I guess I could have used my molcajete (but it would have taken ages). I would really really like to get my hands on a metate but this is not an easy prospect in Australia.
I blended each of the ingredients separately and then added them to a bowl. You can see the different colours of the various ingredients.
A proper blender would have made the whole process a much easier prospect.
Then the madness hit.
My friends, not being Mexicans, did not arrive on Mexican time (i.e. 2 hours late). Not only did they show up on time but they showed up early. I was absolutely not ready. So I had my first cocktail of the day (a Paloma of sorts)(1)
- typically made with Squirt and tequila. I had no squirt so I used grapefruit juice, lemonade and tequila (blanco of course)
At this stage I had pushed the mole paste through a strainer into a pot to remove any grit to make a smoother sauce. I added 1 bar of Ibarra chocolate and diluted the mole to my preferred consistency. I used 1/3 of the mole paste I made. The other 2/3 were separated into containers and frozen for later use. These were not strained or had any chocolate added. These steps will be taken when I next use the paste.
Unfortunately my domestic goddess hostess duties took over and I failed to take photos of these steps and of the finished product. Luckily my daughter took a pic of the meal at the table.
We ate mole colorado (con pollo), puerco al pastor (done in a slow cooker – look out for the Post on this recipe), guacamole, roasted jalapeno and pineapple salsa (for the al pastor), pickled red onions (Yucatan style), grilled sweetcorn with anise, lime crema and hand made tortillas (wrapped in the blue checked tea towel)
This was by far the sweetest mole I have made. I was also the mildest mole I have ever eaten. This is due to the fact I did not add the chiles de arbol (as in Rachael and Noels recipe) nor the chipotle en adobo that I would normally add. This would be a great recipe for children and chile novices.
The mole was much nicer and the flavours more complex when eaten the next day. Over the next few days I ate mucho mole.
Next time I will prepare it the day before so as to allow the flavours to develop.
The next days tacos (con pan arabe por supesto). I added some pickled red onions for tang (not a typical accompaniment I know).