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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Day Three of Three

I spent much of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday making mole. I'd never even attempted it before, but I've been craving the cheap, good Mexican food I used to get in Hell's Kitchen (at La Paloma, a little burrito shop at Ninth Avenue and 45th Street, and at two taquerias over on Tenth Avenue in the 40s, if anyone's keeping track), much of which featured surprisingly decent mole rojo, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I picked a recipe from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, guajalote en mole teloloapense, braised turkey in Teloloapan red mole (use Amazon's search feature to find the recipe if you too would like to wear out your blender and sieve and permanently stain a few utensils bright orange).

I love making Mexican food like this because there are so many weird cooking techniques I'm not used to. For example, most of the ingredients for the mole were fried in a half inch of lard before being ground up and strained: you fry the dried chiles (after first taking out and saving the seeds to grind with the other spices), nuts, pepitas, garlic, onion, tomatoes, tomatillos, bread, corn tortillas, even the raisins were fried (the raisins puffed up and turned golden brown as they cooked, then reverted to normal raisin shape and color as they cooled). The spice mixture I started out with (Saturday) smelled like nothing I'd ever smelled before: sesame seeds, avocado leaf, bay leaves, cinnamon, black pepper, thyme, oregano, cloves, and grated avocado pit, which indeed turned bright fluorescent orange when it oxidized.

Sunday: Here are all the fried nuts, seeds, bread, and spices before they were pulverized in a blender.

Monday: I made classic white rice from the Bayless book, which was great too: you sauté the rice in oil with onion, then add salt and water, bring to a boil, cover and bake until it's done, then fluff it up and fold in cilantro.

The recipe specifies anchos and guajillos, but I just used all the chiles I had (a few chiles de arbol for heat, a bag of pasilla, and a bag of New Mexico chiles—if I'm remembering correctly), plus another half-pound of unidentified ones from Kroger (I think they were anchos and guajillos, actually). Monday morning the sauce was seeming a little bitter, but it had mellowed and become more subtle by suppertime. Before I stuck the turkey in the sauce in a large Dutch oven, I scooped out about six cups of mole and put it in containers to freeze; it'll be nice to have it on hand to braise chicken or whatever, or make enchiladas. So all the work—I mean, play—yielded a nice huge Monday-night supper, plus the main part of a few more meals. Not so bad.


julene.jones said...

Congrats on making some fine mole!
I've been reading your blog for a few months now, and I really enjoy reading about your cooking adventures.
In our entirely Anglo family, mole from scratch is a Thanksgiving-worthy treat, and we've now started the tamale-for-Christmas tradition.

Heidi said...

We've been watching Rick Bayless's show on PBS for a few years, and even ate at Topolobampo while we were still in Chicago, but only recently got one of his cookbooks. My husband made some shrimp chipotle something-or-other, and our house smelled for weeks afterward.

It tasted good though.