Red Chile Mole Sauce
Alright, alright, I know we promised you this recipe last week, but we decided that you needed a cocktail recipe to get through the holiday season way more urgently than you needed cheese filled enchiladas. Let’s be honest, none of us are having trouble meeting our caloric requirements this month. But, for those of you who’ve been waiting, we present to you today a recipe for the most fantastic enchiladas we’ve ever had! First, let’s make the mole sauce, which in our opinion is the pièce de résistance of this meal.
We’ve separated this recipe from today’s suggested pairing, since we encourage you to use this versatile sauce on more than just enchiladas. It’s great as a meat marinade, with tacos, served over grilled chicken or steak, and this Fred has even been known to dip a tortilla chip or two in the sauce prior to pouring it over enchiladas. And we’re not the only one’s obsessed with mole – it’s considered the national sauce of Mexico, where each region has at least one recipe to call their own, and some, like the state of Oaxaca, have seven distinct types of mole!
How did the mole craze get started, you ask? According to food historians (ummm how do I get that job?) mole comes from the Aztec word molli, meaning concoction or stew. It is believed to have been created in the late 1600s by a nun in a convent in Puebla de los Angeles, outside Mexico City, to honor the archbishop for building a nearby convent. Apparently, she spared no expense, using the best and most expensive ingredients to create the dark, savory sauce that grew to tantalize a nation. Well, thank you nameless nun – you’ve not only tantalized a nation, but thanks to globalization, you’ve managed to tantalize the whole world with this complex sauce of hidden wonders!
Before providing you our recipe, we feel we must first apologize to the mole traditionalists out there. We didn’t slave over this all day (not even close), we didn’t spend hours tracking down all the ingredients (although we do admit to stock piling some of the more specialized ingredients, just in case the mood for mole strikes), and we make no claims to this being a traditional mole sauce by any means. Readers – if you have an entire day to devote to preparing a sauce with 30-40 ingredients, by all means, please find one of the many traditional mole recipes, which can be easily located with a quick Google search and go for it. Let us know how it turns out. For everyone else, we present you with an easy mole recipe that is still rich, deeply complex and amazingly tasty…
Red Chile Mole Sauce (recipe adapted from Deborah Madison)
(Makes enough to cover 12 enchiladas)
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 1/4 tsp anise seeds
1 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/4 tsp dried mexican oregano (Italian will do if you can’t find Mexican)
2 1/2 tbs vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup ground mild chile (powdered or dried, reconstituted chiles ground up)
1 1/2 cups water
1 ounce mexican chocolate, coarsley chopped
1 tsp sherry vinegar
First, toast the cumin, coriander, anise and oregano in a dry skillet over medium heat until they smell fragrant. Remove from heat and grind.
Next heat your oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add your onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the edges are browned. Add your garlic and ground spices and allow to cook for an additional minute. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for a minute or two before stirring in your ground red chile and water. Then, return the pan to the stove and bring your mixture to a boil, stirring constantly so the chile doesn’t burn. Once boiling, add your chocolate, stirring it in until melted. Allow the sauce to simmer for ten minutes, adding up to an additional 1/4 cup of water if it thickens too much. Finally, add the sherry vinegar to meld the flavors along with salt to taste.