Local, pastured chicken is seasoned with cracked cumin, sea salt and black pepper, then quickly roasted before being lacquered with a densely-flavored, traditional red mole. Topped with toasted sesame seeds and minced onions & cilantro, and served with stock-simmered bomba rice with onions, green chiles and fried plantains..
Mole Rojo Clasico (recipe by Rick Bayless)
5 ounces (2-3 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1/2 cup (about 6 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds
1/2 cup rich-tasting pork lard or vegetable oil, plus a little more if necessary
3 ounces (about 6 medium) dried mulato chiles, stemmed, seeded & torn into large pieces
2 ounces (about 4 medium) dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded & torn into large pieces
2 ounces (about 5 medium) dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded & torn into large pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) unskinned raw almonds
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon anise, preferably freshly ground
1/8 teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground
1 slice firm white bread, darkly toasted and broken into several pieces
1 ounce (about 1/3 of a 3.3-ounce tablet) Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
unrefined sugar to taste
On a rimmed baking sheet, roast the tomatillos 4 inches below a very hot broiler until splotchy black and thoroughly soft, about 5 minutes per side. Scrape into a large bowl. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirringly nearly constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Scrape half of them in with the tomatillos. Reserve the remainder for sprinkling on the chicken.
Brown other mole ingredients. Turn on an exhaust fan or open a kitchen door or window. In a very large soup pot (I typically use a 12-quart stainless steel stock pot or a medium-large Mexican earthenware cazuela), heat the lard or oil over medium. When quite hot, fry the chiles, three or four pieces at a time, flipping them nearly constantly with tongs until their interior side has changed to a lighter color, about 20 or 30 seconds total frying time. Don’t toast them so darkly that they begin to smoke—that would make the mole bitter. As they’re done, remove them to a large bowl, being careful to drain as much fat as possible back into the pot. Cover the toasted chiles with hot tap water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to insure even soaking.
Remove any stray chile seeds left in the fat. With the pot still over medium heat, fry the garlic and almonds, stirring regularly, until browned (the garlic should be soft), about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove to the tomatillo bowl, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot.
Add the raisins to the hot pot. Stir for 20 or 30 seconds, until they’ve puffed and browned slightly. Scoop them out, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot, and add to the tomatillos. Set the pan aside off the heat.
To the tomatillo mixture, add the cinnamon, black pepper, anise, cloves, bread and chocolate. Add 2 cups water and stir to combine.
Blend, strain, cook. Into a large measuring cup, tip off the chiles’ soaking liquid. Taste the liquid: if it’s not bitter, discard all abut 6 cups of the liquid. (if you’re short, add water to make up the shortfall). If bitter, pour it out and measure 6 cups water. Scoop half of the chiles into a blender jar, pour in half of the soaking liquid (or water) and blend to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl; discard the bits of skin and seeds that don’t pass through the strainer. Repeat with the remaining chiles.
Return the soup pot or cazuela to medium heat. When quite hot, pour in the chile puree—it should sizzle sharply and, if the pan is sufficiently hot, the mixture should never stop boiling. Stir every couple of minutes until the chile puree has darkened and reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, about a half hour. (I find it useful to cover the pot with an inexpensive spatter screen to catch any spattering chile.)
In two batches, blend the tomatillo mixture as smoothly as possible (you may need an extra 1/2 cup water to keep everything moving through the blades), then strain it in to the large bowl that contained the chiles. When the chile paste has reduced, add the tomatillo mixture to the pot and cook, stirring every few minutes until considerably darker and thicker, 15 to 20 minutes. (Again, a spatter screen saves a lot of cleanup.)
Simmer. Add the broth to the pot and briskly simmer the mixture over medium to medium-low heat for about 2 hours for all the flavors to come together and mellow. If the mole has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little water. Taste and season with salt (usually about 4 teaspoons) and the sugar and keep warm.
For the Green Chili Bomba (adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless)
1 cup bomba rice (a special type of Spanish paella rice)
3 cups rich chicken stock
1 cup yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat
1/4 thinly-sliced green chiles
butter or peanut oil
Place the rice in a strainer and rinse under cold, filtered water until the water runs clear. Allow to drain 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock until steaming.
Heat the chicken fat in heavy, high-walled skillet until shimmering. Add the rice and stir constantly until it floats freely in the hot fat. Add onions and chiles and cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add chicken stock and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and cook without stirring 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 15 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork just before serving.
Season chicken joints with salt, pepper and cracked cumin and roast in a heavy skillet in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven, dunk chicken in mole and return to pan to the oven for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove pan from oven, baste chicken with more mole and allow to stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fry slices of ripe plantain in hot peanut oil or butter until deep golden brown on both sides. Set aside to drain.
Arrange chicken on one side of plate and spoon a little mole over the top. Garnish with toasted white sesame seeds, minced onion and cilantro. Arrange rice next to the chicken and garnish with fried plantains. Serve hot.
- RECIPE: Rick Bayless’ Oaxacan Black Mole From Mexico State Dinner (huffingtonpost.com)
Grass-fed sirloin (Bastrop Cattle Co.) is rubbed in a mixture of ancho chilies, fresh garlic, Mexican oregano, comino and piloncillo, then quickly seared over a wood fire. Served with salt & pepper-fried plantains and home-cooked frijoles charros (cowboy beans)..
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3-4 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 tablespoon piloncillo
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon half-sharp paprika
2 teaspoons sea salt
Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into a semi-fine powder.
For the Beans (adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless)
1 cup dried pinto beans
1 tablespoon leaf lard
1/2 yellow onion
1 small sprig epazote
2 thick slices bacon, diced and fried
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
1/2 fresh poblano pepper, charred and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Rinse and pick over dried beans. Cover with 1 quart of cool, filtered water, lard, onion and epazote. Bring to a hard boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender, about 2 hours, adding the tomatoes and peppers about 30 minutes out. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary to keep from drying out.
Add bacon, salt and cilantro during the last 10 minutes of cooking, discarding the epazote before serving.
For the Plantains
1 plantain, very ripe but still firm
1 tablespoon peanut oil or butter
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Heat butter or oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Season plantain slices with salt and pepper then fry until golden brown. Set aside to drain.
For the Steaks
1 4oz breakfast sirloin per person
1 1/2 teaspoon spice rub per steak
Pat steak dry, then evenly coat on all sides with spice rub. Grill over a wood fire for about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing against the grain about 3/8 inch-thick.
This post is part of The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday!
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit magazine (via Edible Therapy), this complex sauce is fantastic with pickled red onions and grilled pork chops..
2 tablespoons leaf lard or other fat
1 large plantain, sliced
1 cup fresh diced mango
2 large dried Guajillo or Ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed
1/2 cup chopped white onion
12 whole raw almonds
1 tablespoon homemade chili base
2 tablespoons shelled peanuts
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 small bay leaf
1 small bunch fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
1 teaspoon true cinnamon shards
2 cups homemade chicken stock, more or less
1 small piece Mexican chocolate
Heat the fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add plantains, chili base and everything else except stock and chocolate. Sauté until plantain is soft, about 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 cups chicken stock. Reduce heat and simmer until chilies are tender, about 15 minutes.
Puree sauce in blender then return to skillet.
Add chocolate and stir until incorporated. Thin with reserved stock if necessary, then season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
Smokey braised pork with peppers, onions, piloncillo and plantains..
Trim pork shoulder, removing any heavy fat. Cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks, arrange on a foil-lined baking tray and broil, turning once, until golden brown. Some pieces will be crisp, others less so. This is a good thing.
Transfer meat to a Dutch oven and add minced fresh garlic, diced fresh peppers, red and/or yellow onions, sliced ripe plantains and 1-2 diced chipotle peppers with 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce.
Season with a little toasted cumin, a pinch of Mexican oregano and just enough shaved piloncillo (a traditional, unrefined sugar common to Central and South America) to balance the heat of the peppers.
Add enough dark beer (preferably a Munich-style beer such as Negra Modelo) to almost cover the contents of the pot. Cover tightly and braise in a 300 degree oven until fork-tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
Arañitas (little spiders) are fritters made from shredded plantains. Use a mostly green plantain or, like mine, your little spiders won’t have any legs. Still delicious, though!
Grate the peeled plantain into long strips. This one is over-ripe for this recipe, so its more mushy than it should be. So, do as I say, not as I did.
Form the shreds into a little patty, roughly the size and shape of a silver dollar. Carefully drop them into hot oil (I’m using peanut oil, taking care to keep it below the smoking point), turning them once with a slotted spoon.
Transfer to a paper napkin-lined plate to drain. Immediately season with lots of s&p and serve hot as an accompaniment to your favorite Cuban dish.
These can be made a day or 2 ahead and reheated in a 350 degree oven if needed, but they are best eaten shortly after frying.
See How to Select a Plantain for a quick description of what to do with plantains at varying stages of ripeness