Saturday, 27 April 2013

Mexican Mole Negro

Mole Negro, pronounced Mol-aye, translates to black sauce, mole meaning sauce, you are probably more familiar with guacamole (avocado sauce).

I love Mexican food, real Mexican food, not your knock off attempt at Mexican food mentioning no names but lets just say it rhymes with "tiquitos". Real Mexican food can often be quite labour intensive but I think the end results are worth the many steps. What intrigues me more than anything is the history behind Mexican food and how certain dishes that are cooked and celebrated today have a direct influence from the Spanish invasion, take the humble tomato and garlic for instance, this might not have ever been in Mexican dishes had it not have been for the Spanish, and like wise, we might not have ever had chocolate or chillies if we had not have invaded Mexico. Although the cuisine may use similar ingredients sometimes I do think that Mexican food is in a category all of it's own and cannot be beaten, especially Mole Negro. 
There are many complexities to Mexican chillies, not like the gun ho mentality of how many Brits will use chillies, Mexican chillies are not only used for heat, but they are used to build layers of flavours, the many processes to preserve the thousands of varieties of chillies are mind boggling, but each way lends a flavour dimension that is unique, for instance Chipotle chillies are actually smoked jalapenos.

Mole negro uses a unique blend of chillies that are toasted to give the Mole it's unique black colour, and also Mexican chocolate tablets to add a little sweetness. I do recommend you use the genuine articles as they are so easy to source but if you cannot find the Mexican chocolate tablets I suggest that you substitute with 70% dark chocolate, a little extra sugar and cinnamon.

You will need:
For the Chicken

1 medium chicken 1.4-1.5kg in weight
2 medium tomatoes
a sprig of oregano
200g of white onions (cut in half no need to peel the skin off)
1 head of garlic
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tbsp of maldon salt
1 tsp of cracked black pepper
4 pints of chicken stock

Add all of the above ingredients in a large stock pot and bring it to the boil, allow the chicken to simmer for twenty minutes, then turn off the heat.

For the Mole Negro sauce:

5 guajillo Chillies
5 mulato  chillies
5 pasilla chillies
3 chipotle chillies en adobo + 2 tbsp of adobo liquid
50g of lard
150g of chopped white onions
1 head of smoked garlic, all of the cloves peeled and roughly chopped
5 tomatoes halved
1 tsp of cumin seed
1 tsp of cumin powder
1/2 tsp of fennel seed
3 whole star anise
1 stick of cassia bark
4 cloves
1 tbsp of sesame seeds
25g of whole almonds
25g of peanuts
25g pecans
25g of raisins
1 tbsp of oregano
1 tbsp of thyme
1 large banana
3 medium tomatillos (if you cannot get this you can sub it with a jar of salsa verde)
2 1/2 tbsp of maldon salt (if using table salt half it)
50g of baguette
2  tbsp of masa harina 
2 1/2 pints of the chicken stock from the chicken
2 mexican chocolate tablets
1 tbsp of brown sugar (optional I like it a little sweeter)

This is a lengthy process but is not a difficult one if you follow this to the letter. Make sure you have all of your ingredients prepared and at the ready.
Place a cast iron pan on a high heat, add the lard and fry the onions, tomatoes, tomatillos, bread and banana one at a time until a little charred, place all of these items into a bowl for later, then toast the nuts, garlic and raisins and place in the same bowl. You can either toast the chillies in the same pot or place them directly onto the gas flame until they soften and puff up slightly (you cannot toast the chipotles over an open flame if they are en adobo), then place the toasted chillies into the bowl with the other toasted ingredients. 

Finally add the thyme and oregano with the spices and fry them for only a couple of minutes, add all of the contents of the bowl into the pan along with two and a half pints of the chicken stock from cooking the chicken and the en adobo liquid, add the salt and sugar and allow to bubble away for an hour.
Once an hour has passed all the ingredients should be very very soft. In a dry frying pan toast the masa harina until it is a very dark brown colour and add this to the pot and allow it to cook for a further five minutes. If you cannot get any Masa harina you could also use a toasted corn tortilla. Blend all of the contents of the pot until it is totally smooth and then pass it through a sieve and back into the pot to re heat. 
The final crowning glory is adding the two mexican chocolate tablets, allow them to melt into the sauce. To serve place a little chicken onto a plate with a spoonful of sauce and then topped with sesame seeds. Serve this with green mexican rice! 


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