Fifth course – Part 1, Making the Molé
Tell someone your making a chocolate dinner or that you are using chocolate for a savory dish and they’ll think molé. This happened several times to me when I would tell people what I was planning to do. I’m guilty of it too, since it was the first thing I considered when I started brainstorming the dinner. Anticipating this, I decided to take the molé in a bit of a different direction and use it as a filling for ravioli. Then, I thought, to add a bit more novelty, I would make the pasta with chocolate powder.
For the molé sauce, I borrowed from Rick Bayless. Below is with my variation with only some slight changes.
Oaxacan Black Molé
4 Ancho chilies, dried
3 Negro chilies, dried
2 Guajillo chilies, dried
1 Large Onion (I used yellow, Bayless would tell you to use white, though)
3 cloves Garlic
1/4 + 3 T Cup Peanut Oil
1/4 Cup Almonds
1/4 Cup Spanish Peanuts
1/4 Cup Peacans
1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds
8 Cups Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Sultanas (Golden Raisins)
4 Tomatillos, husked and quartered
4 Plum Tomatoes, peeled (I used canned)
1/2 Cup Tomato Juice (from the above can)
1/2 tsp Coriander Seeds
1/4 tsp Cloves, ground
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
1 tsp Oregano, ground (use fresh if you have it)
1/2 tsp Thyme, fresh
1/2 Banana, ripe
1/2 Cup Bread crumbs (homemade are best)
1-2 Chipotles in adobo
1/2 Cup Chocolate (Unsweetened or Bittersweet)
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Anise Seed
1/4 Cup Turbinado Sugar
1 T Salt, Kosher
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste
This is probably the most ingredients I have ever used to make just one dish. Plan on spending most the day making this.
Alright, here we go:
Stem and seed the dried chilies. Discard the stems and add about half of the seeds to a dry skillet over medium high heat until they are black, shaking the pan periodically, if you had a corn tortilla on hand go ahead and tear it into pieces and blacken it with the seeds. You’re going to want the exhaust fan on for this.
Once they’re nice and charred, transfer them to a mesh strainer and rinse with running water for 30 seconds or so. Add them to the food processor.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toss the unpeeled cloves of garlic to the same pan and toast. Turning the garlic as needed to get an even blackening, about 10 minutes.
Remove the garlic and add the sliced onion, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and cook until dry and slightly blackened, another 10-15 minutes; turning frequently so that they don’t burn.
Peel the garlic and add it, and the onions to the food processor along with the chili seeds. Pour 1/2 cup of chicken broth into the food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer that puree to a bowl and set aside. Don’t worry about cleaning or even rinsing the processor, we’re going to use it again.
On a sheet pan, add the almonds, peanuts, and pecans and pop them in the oven to toast just until fragrant about 5 minutes. Then add the sesame seeds and toast for another 3-4 minutes.
In the saute pan add 1/4 cup of the peanut oil. When the oil is hot add the dried chilies and fry, turning to cook on both sides, until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.
Depending on the size of your pan you may want to saute these in batches. Let cool/drain on paper towels for a few minutes then transfer to a bowl along with the sultanas.
Cover with warm water and let soak for about 30 minutes.
Add nuts to the food processor with 1 1/2 cups of broth and puree. Transfer to another bowl.
Now add the tomatillos, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of tomato juice (or broth if you used fresh tomatoes) to the food processor and puree. Transfer that puree to yet another bowl.
Next for the food processor: coriander seeds, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, thyme, banana, and bread crumbs, 3/4 cup broth and puree. Transfer to a bowl.
Now drain the chilies and sultanas for the water, reserving the soaking liquid. Put the chilies and sultanas in the food processor with the chipotles and 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid then puree.
Heat a large pot over medium. Add 3 T of peanut oil, when it shimmers add the tomato puree. Reduce until about the consistency of tomato paste, 15-20 minutes.
Add the the nut puree and the blackened seed/onion/garlic puree, stir it in and reduce until thick and pasty, another 10 minutes or so. Next mix in the banana/spice puree and cook for another 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the chili puree and reduce, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes. You want it to end up thick and dark.
Now stir in 5 cups of broth plus 2 cups of soaking liquid and bring to a simmer. Add 1/2 cup chopped chocolate, bay leaf, anise seeds, and continue to simmer partly covered for an hour. I ended up getting a wild hair and decided to practice making my own chocolate from cacao nibs. We’ll delve more into this on a future blog.
It would definitely, be easier to just use already made chocolate. In that case, I would recommend Taza’s Mexicano Stone Ground Chocolate disc.
Next, add the turbinado sugar and the salt. I used an immersion blender to puree the molé again before pressing the whole lot through a medium mesh strainer into a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, sugar, etc.
The molé can be made several days in advance. Up next , we’ll mix up some filling, pasta, and put it all together.