Food: Chocolate with an accent on savory
THE KITCHEN DIVA
GINA’S MEXICAN MOLE ENCHILADAS WITH SAUCE
For the Mexican Mole Sauce:
3 tablespoons Ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup peanuts or pine nuts
1/2 medium onion, cut into small chunks
1 clove garlic
1 can vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1. Lightly toast chili powder and cumin in dry skillet. Mix toasted spices with the peanuts, onions and garlic in a food processor or blender. Add enough vegetable broth or water to make a thick paste. Set aside.
2. Heat vegetable oil in saucepan. Add the tomato sauce, the processed onion-peanut-spice mixture and the remainder of the vegetable broth or water. Add sugar and cloves. When mixture is heated through, add chocolate.
3. Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Thin with a small amount of water if desired. Set aside for topping enchiladas.
To prepare the Cheese Enchiladas:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 tomatillos, peeled, washed and diced
4 ounces canned green chilies, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup vegetable broth
12 large whole-wheat tortillas
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup queso fresco or ricotta cheese
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded, plus more for sprinkling
1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. In a large pan, cook the green onions, garlic and tomatillos in the oil until tender. Add the green chilies, the cilantro and the oregano. Continue cooking until the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 8 to 10 minutes. Pour the sauce into a blender container. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth. Return to saucepan and stir in broth. Cook over medium heat about 15 minutes.
3. Dip each tortilla into sauce. Spoon about 1-1/2 tablespoons black beans, 2 tablespoons of queso fresco or ricotta cheese, and 2/3 ounce Monterey Jack onto each tortilla. Roll tortilla around filling. Place seam side down in 13-by-9-inch baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Drizzle remaining Mole Sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and filling is hot.
The origins of mole — that famous Mexican sauce that is really a stew — are as deep, complex and rich as the spicy, sweet, nutty multilayered mixture itself. It’s rumored that the Spaniards gave mole its name when they misheard the Aztecs refer to the stew as a “molli.” Another story goes that in the 17th century, Dominican sisters in Puebla scrambled to put a meal together for the visiting archbishop. They used the ingredients that they had on hand, such as dried chilies, chocolate and stale bread, to make a sauce for turkey.
Mole can be any or all of those ingredients. The often-intimidating concoction represents a delicious and gorgeous pinnacle of the many cultures that influenced Mexican cuisine, with many pieces of it coming together in one glorious sauce that has many incarnations.
One debated aspect of mole lore is just where in Mexico it originated, and of course, who makes it the best. The fact is, mole is served all over Mexico, and takes on different characteristics depending on where in the country it is made and, ultimately, the taste preferences of the cook preparing it.
Mole is most common in Puebla, relating back to the story of the nuns. But Oaxaca is not to be outdone. It’s also the home of complex, distinctive moles. And while there are countless mole variations, there is agreement among most Mexican cooks that there are seven notable recipes. These recipes represent the different colors and tastes of the foundation of every mole, which are chilies. It’s also agreed that the traditional Mexican mole is a special occasion dish, as it takes time and care to create.
Mole Negro is probably the most famous recipe. The almost-black, spicy sauce is what most people have tasted if they’ve eaten dishes from interior Mexico. Like the Mexican cooks for centuries, you can make your unique rendition of this fascinating dish that celebrates the ingredients of this colorful country. Mole also can be purchased ready-made as a paste or powder, or in jars or cans, but homemade is best.
Visit Angela Shelf Medearis’ website at http://www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook and go to Hulu.com. Read Gina Harlow’s blog about food and gardening at http://www.peachesandprosciutto.com. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.
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The first in-person local festival of the year has arrived with Dandelion Day making its return to Sopris Park in Carbondale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday.