Monday, November 29, 2010

Michael Natkin's "Mole Aproximado"

Before I wrap up my Month of Vegan Gravy, I need to leave you with yet another go-to recipe: My favorite Mexican (or more correctly "Oaxacan") mole.
Now, many of the supposedly 'genuine' mole recipes out there take hours and days of simmering to perfect - AND have a ton of ingredients that would take me several trips to various international markets just to locate. And the store-bought ones? Quick, sure, but they taste awful! This recipe strikes the perfect compromise, a delicious sauce with all the complexities I look for in a "mole" and made in about an hour!! If you're a fan like I am, you'll LOVE this!! Absolutely the easiest and BEST (authentic) tasting mole sauce EVER. (And yes, mole is also referred to as "gravy" in some areas.)

I ran across this wonderful recipe quite by accident, while searching the internets for something completely unrelated (isn't that how it always happens?). It was posted on a foodie sort-of website that I've since come to refer to a lot, called "Serious Eats". (No, not a vegan website, but still a great place for ideas and inspiration). This recipe looked pretty easy, I had all the ingredients, and since I'd tried several previous mole recipes with little luck, I was hoping this would be a hit. It was.

What I didn't even realize until after I'd made the recipe once, was that it was written by fellow Seattle vegetarian-blogger-chef-acquaintance Michael Natkin, who writes the completely awesome "Herbavoracious" blog, of which I'm a HUGE fan!! I should have known - it's such a great recipe. If you've never tried any of Michael's recipes, definitely check it out - all the ones I've made are definitely keepers! While Michael isn't vegan, a large number of recipes are noted as specifically vegan or very easy to change up. He also notes which ones are gluten-free.

Mole Aproximado

This recipe is posted with permission from
Erin Zimmer of Serious Eats
and and the recipe's creator, Michael Natkin.

* 8 dried ancho chiles or a mixture of ancho and pasilla
* 4 cloves garlic
* 1 large tomato, cored and halved
* 2 slices bread, toasted and cubed
* 1 small onion, diced
* 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
* 1 pinch of cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
* Salt
* 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (bitter orange if you happen to have it) [I haven't tried this with bitter orange, I admit ~ MH)
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Remove the stems, seeds and ribs from the chile peppers. You might want to wear rubber gloves for this. Cover them with boiling water and weight them so they stay underwater. Leave to soak for 30 minutes while you prepare everything else.

In a hot, dry skillet, cook the garlic cloves and tomato for about 5 minutes, turning a couple of times.

Drain the chiles, reserving the soaking water. In a blender, combine the chiles with the garlic, tomato, bread, onion, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, sugar, salt and cocoa power, orange juice and 1/2 cup of the chile soaking water. Puree very thoroughly, adding more liquid as necessary until you have about 3 1/2 cups. Strain. [Sometimes I don't strain this, it's still good, just not as smooth - just more dishes to get dirty!! ~MH]

Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over a medium flame. Pour in the mole, and simmer for about 30 minutes, lightly covered. The sauce should darken and become more concentrated.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. Can you taste the various herbs and spices? The chocolate? The chiles? Is there a bit of acid and enough salt? Aim for a complex, balanced flavor. Also add a little more liquid or simmer a bit longer to get a pleasing saucy texture, like a thick tomato sauce.
I love this with tamales or even a simple bean burrito - and the leftovers (what?) even go great with chips or keep in the fridge nicely for over a week.

And one quick note (also gravy related). I was going to do a "Swedish meatballs and gravy" post, but ran out of time. I don't have a good recipe of my own anyway. Instead, if you want Swedish meatballs and gravy? You MUST TRY THIS RECIPE from my friend and fellow blogger Matt of "Our Veggie Kitchen". GOOD STUFF!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's wrap-up of VEGAN GRAVY!! You may be surprised, shocked, amazed or completely dumbfounded. (Actually it may not be a complete "wrap-up" - I have a few more gravy-related posts that I haven't finished. I'll probably be blogging gravy well into December...)


Michael @ said...

Hey TM - I'm so glad you like this recipe. Congrats on the month of gravy, that was quite a project!

Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear that the gravy love won't stop with the end of MoFo...I can never get enough!!