Friday, 5 August 2011

Mole de Cacahuate

You may already be familiar with mole (pronounced mo-lay, and has nothing to do with burrowing mammals), the Mexican sauce (from the Nahuatl mulli meaning 'sauce'). When people think of mole, they usually think of mole poblano, the most famous sauce, and an absolute bugger to make, as it contains over 20 ingredients (containing at least 3 types of chilli, cinnamon and chocolate amongst other things). But there are many mole sauces out there, from the Oaxacan* black mole (around 30 ingredients, some of them deliberately burnt) to the vibrant green mole verde (made with tomatilloes). This is the easiest mole recipe I know (easy is a relative term here. Lets just say it's a mole you can prepare while still holding a conversation, or even drinking a cup of tea). Traditionally its served over chicken, but I like to stir into it roasted pumpkin, pinto beans, mushrooms or french beans. For today, it has grilled courgettes & chestnut mushrooms stirred into it.
This makes enough for 6, though the paste freezes well. I usually make the whole recipe, and freeze half the paste once its been blended, then defrost it & heat up in a pan with 60ml of red wine & 250ml vegetable stock (and yes, I have a whole drawer in my freezer littered with little hummus tubs full of mole paste!)

Mole de Cacahuate
2 Ancho chillis, stem & seeds removed
2 chipotle chillis, or 2 tsp chipotle paste
2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion, peeled & sliced
225g tomatoes
2 tbs oil
1 cup peanut butter (this is a cheat, I should say 1 cup peanuts, which are then roasted & ground. If Diana Kennedy is coming over for dinner, do that. Otherwise, peanut butter is less of a faff)
1 slice dry white bread (or 2 heaped tbs panko)
1 tbs red wine vinegar
850ml vegetable stock
125ml red wine (or water)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs brown sugar
pinch of allspice

If you have time, toast the ancho chillis. If not, put in a small bowl & cover with hot water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes. Roast the tomatoes, onion & garlic cloves for 5 minutes under a hot grill until they start to blacken. Put the tomatoes, garlic, onion, drained ancho chillis, chipotle chillis, bread, allspice & cinnamon into a blender & pulse. Add the peanut butter & 350ml of vegetable stock & blend until smooth.
Heat the remaining 1 tbs of oil in a pan. When hot enough to make a drop of the chilli puree sizzle, add all the paste & stir until the mixture darkens & thickens, which should take about 5 minutes. Add the wine (or water) & stir. Add the remaining stock & stir. Simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes (a good time to prepare whatever is going with it!), adding a little water if it gets too thick. Finish with seasoning & the brown sugar.

This rich, nutty sauce goes well with squashes, grilled aubergines, beans (both green & podded) & mushrooms. Or even grilled tofu or seitan.
Serve with rice, pickled red onions, queso fresco (or quark) or avocado slices.

Om nom nom!
*Yes, Thomasina Miers, that's Oaxaca, not Wahaca. Chump.

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