Sunday, October 23, 2011

Michael Natkin's Mole Aproximado

I realize Sunday is practically over, but it's been a crazy weekend, so this still counts! This is a SPECIAL-BY-REQUEST post especially for one of my favorite blogger-Twitter-VidaVeganCon people.
Here you go: Mexican (or more correctly "Oaxacan") Chocolate mole.
(I admit it's a re-post, but several people have since asked for the recipe, so... here it is again, well worth re-posting!!)
Now, many of the supposedly 'genuine' mole recipes out there take forever fussing with them, mixing, cooking, simmering to perfection - AND, most of them have a ton of ingredients that would take me several trips to various international markets just to locate. I don't have that kind of time (or patience! I really admire those cook-chef-foodie types who can babysit a simmering pot of whatever for hours on end...).
Anyway. Mole. The store-bought ones? Blargh! Quick-to-make, sure, but they taste awful!
This recipe is pretty much the perfect compromise, a delicious sauce with all the flavors you look for in a "mole" and best of all? 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, check it out!! It's a great place for ideas and inspiration). This recipe looked pretty easy, it was vegan, 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. And it was. Oh it was!!

What I didn't realize until after I'd made the recipe, was that it was created by fellow Seattle vegetarian-blogger-acquaintance (and GENIUS cook!!) Michael Natkin, who writes the completely awesome (and vegetarian) "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 his recipes are, and many others are very easy to change up. He also notes which ones are gluten-free. He has such a great way of making things taste completely sensational and uses a wide variety of unique ingredients in ways I never would have thought of!

Here then, is his fabulous recipe  - with just a FEW of my notes because you know I can't cook ANYTHING exactly as the recipe says to:

(This recipe posted with permission from Erin Zimmer of 'Serious Eats', and the recipe's creator, Michael Natkin. My sincere thanks to you both.)

Mole Aproximado

* 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 
[I like to make this a bit more chocolate-y by using 4-5 ounces of unsweetened dark chocolate, melted. Don't shoot me Michael. ~MH]
* 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 (if using melted chocolate, add later on when everything is simmering in the pan), 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 a few more seeds and not as smooth - straining just makes 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 balanced flavor, but one that you like. 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.


inhergrace said...

We had the most epic mole fail during mofo, and it was one of Isa's from A4R too. It just didn't work. We hated it. Perhaps if it had GRAVY it would have been nicer! This looks yummy!