CHERRIES ARE THE PERFECT FOIL FOR CHILES HUACLE NEGRO WITH THEIR INTENSELY FRUITY UNDERTONES, AS WELL AS FOR THE MORE FAMILIAR DRIED CHIPOTLE CHILES AND DANDELION CHOCOLATE’S Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania Chef’s Chocolate WITH HINTS OF RIPE MANGO AND CARAMELIZED RED BERRIES.
(Make 2 quarts, enough for 10-12 servings as a side with a protein or 8-10 servings if served along, with corn tortillas, of course! Prep time: active 2 hours. Cooking level: Intermediate to expert)
6 chiles Guajillo dried (widely available online)
4 chiles Chipotle, dried (widely available online)
4 chiles Huacle Negros, dried available through Oaxacan Zocalito Imports
1 large onion, sliced thick
8-10 whole cloves, peeled
1/4 cup vegetable oil plus 6 tbsp.
8 oz. slivered almonds
6 oz. hazelnuts, peeled (you can peel them by rolling them in a kitchen towel)
4 cups Frog Hollow Farm whole fresh cherries
4 oz. raw white sesame seeds
2 sticks cinnamon, preferably Mexican
3 Star Anise
4 oz. quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces if using bar chocolate (at least 70% cacao, we recommend Dandelion Chocolate’s Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania Chef’s Chocolate)
2 tsp. quality Balsamic vinegar
6-8 cups chicken or corn stock, plus ¼ cup to “clean” your blender jar
1-2 tortillas (day-old are better)
1 tsp. salt or to taste
Dry Roast: Heat comal or a heavy non-stick sauté pan on medium-low and dry roast (so no oil) the chiles. They cook very quickly, you want them to have spots where they have started to blacken, but you don’t want them burnt. Work with cooking thongs, watch chiles carefully, turning frequently. Next, cook the onion and garlic on the comal until they are golden brown with some blackened spots, 4-6 minutes, turning the onion over once, until it becomes translucent and charred on both sides.
Sauté: Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a heavy sauté pan on medium heat. Fry the chiles until they puff up and slightly change color, turning frequently (figure 1). This is very quick, no more than 30 seconds . Transfer chiles to a glass bowl and add cold water to cover; soak for 20 minutes (figure 2).
Using the remaining oil from frying the chiles (sauté each of the following separately so as to strictly control cooking time):
Sauté the almonds, moving them around in the pan, until they start to brown, about 2 minutes.
· Sauté the hazelnuts moving them around in the pan, until they start to brown, about 2 minutes.
· Sauté the cherries (do not remove the pits), moving them around in the pan, about 1 minute (for a more smoky mole, you can dry roast the cherries on the comal instead of sautéing them).
· Sauté the cinnamon stick, cloves and Star Anise, turning over once, about 2 minutes.
· Sauté the sesame seeds, they cook very quickly, be careful not to burn them.
Now you are ready to add all of the sautéed ingredients to your blender, scraping all the sesame seeds, along with whatever oil is left in your pan, into the blender.
Prep cherries and chiles: Allow cherries to cool so you can work with them. Working over a bowl, remove the pits being sure not to miss any. The pitted cherries will now go into the blender jar. Add the cherry juice that has accumulated in the catch bowl to the blender jar as well, making sure not to accidentally add and cherry pits.
Remove chiles from water (they should be soft) and remove the stems, veins and seeds. Reserve the seeds.
Prep one of your tortillas: Using long tongs with metal tips, hold the tortilla directly over a medium flame directly on your burner, turning it over frequently and continue cooking until some charred spots start to appear on both sides. Add to blender.
Blend: Add the chiles to you blender jar (which already has all your sautéed ingredients, your cherries and your tortilla), along with 1 1/2 cups of stock and the chocolate, vinegar and salt and blend well until you have a very smooth puree. You will need to work in two batches. No need to worry about dividing the ingredients evenly between the batches, as everything will end up together.
Adjust your mole for taste and texture: Mix your two batches of mole well in a large bowl. Your mole should be the texture of a thick spaghetti sauce. If it is too thick, add more stock. If it is too thin, add another tortilla. Blend again. Taste your mole and if you feel it needs more heat, sauté some of the reserved seeds from the chiles in a little oil, add to your mole, blend well and taste again. Add the seeds little by little until you achieve the desired result. Check for salt and add more if needed at this point.
Cook off your mole: Heat the remaining 6 tbsp. of oil in a thick-bottomed pot or clay Cazuela over medium heat until hot. Add the puréed mole from your blender jar. Add just a little more stock to your blender jar and swish around to get every bit of the mole, add this liquid to your pot, being careful as the mole will splatter when it hits the oil (you may want to use a splatter screen). Cook your mole stirring constantly, until it gets slightly darker and thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 15-20 minutes. Add more broth if needed. Season to taste with salt if needed.
If using immediately, add cooked poultry to the mole and continue cooking over a low heat until poultry us heated through and through, about 15 minutes. If using duck, no not add to mole to heat, as the duck fat will change the flavor of the mole. Instead, heat duck in the oven or a pan, as you would normally, and serve with mole. Garnish dish with a few fresh cherry halves.
You can save your mole in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or up to a week, or freeze your mole for up to one month. We recommend you divide your mole into two portions, one to use now and one to use later.
If you’d like me to cook this dish, or another from the recipes here on my blog, go to http://www.chefandrealawsongray.com and book me for an In-Home Culinary Experience.