Flaming Tortillas

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Me vs. Mole (Spoiler Alert: I lose)

Posted By Melissa Pitts

June 7, 2011 at 11:20am MST

Okay- I’ll admit: I hate making mole. I mean I really hate it. It’s a venture that guarantees if not complete failure, something close to it. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating it and trying new types, but making it: nu uh, no way. It’s a trick.

Let me explain: every Mexican and Central American has their versions of mole: green, red, black- all delicious. It a national dish, it’s part of the identity of countries like Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador. People talk about their country’s mole like they do soccer I’m convinced: ours is better- yours it too weak, not enough spice, too sweet (and the criticisms go on) and the arguments get heated. People get pretty damn passionate about their grandmother’s mole, or their aunt’s or their favorite restaurant’s in some God forsaken village 2 hours outside the city. I’m convinced people’s memories trump the taste of the mole they eat. Maybe grandma’s wasn’t so great, but the memory of it is just too good. I also want to add here that I will bet you good money that most people use the paste- but that’s another blog.

Well, I promised myself I wouldn’t fall into that trap. Why would I make mole for people who will never be pleased or set the bar so high that no one can reach it? It’s every cook/chef’s Achilles heel (unless you’re Rick Bayless), and no one will just say yum-there’s always some caveat in their compliments "it's good but.."

Therefore, the mere thought of making it made me cringe. But, if Flaming Tortillas was going to showcase the best of Latin America’s food I couldn’t leave this oh so important dish off the menu. So, I researched, did taste tests with very some mole snobs and found a formula for an easy, accessible mole recipe. The one I’m sharing with you is not the mole where it takes like 5 days to make. No, I won’t (you shouldn’t suffer) through that. This recipe takes you about 45 minutes and hits the same notes as the real deal but without the commitment and requirement that you go to 5 different stores for the ingredients. It makes a good amount so when you’re sick of regular mole and rice, turn them into enchiladas.

So there you have it. God, I feel so much better now that I can mark this one off my list. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and if you don’t- well there’s always that pasty stuff that you just add water to.

Chicken Mole:

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 dried pasilla chiles
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 toasted tortillas, torn into pieces
pinch of ground cloves
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons peanut butter
4 teaspoons powdered chicken bouillon (recommended: Maggi or Knorr)
¼ cup pepitas
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons olive oil (for the chicken)
1 ½ tablets of Mexican chocolate (90 grams each), recommended Ibarra or Abuelita, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven at 375F. On a baking sheet, season the chicken with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bake the chicken for 25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the chicken reads 165F. Set aside.

While the chicken is baking, fill a medium size pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasilla chiles and turn of the heat. Soak the chiles for 30 minutes.

While the chiles are soaking, in a dry skillet toast the sesame seeds and pepitas. Set aside to cool.

In a dutch oven or large pot, add the canola oil and heat on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (1 minute).

After the chiles have soaked and are softened, cut off the stems off all of them and take the seeds out of 2 of the chiles. If you do not like your mole spicy then remove seeds from all the chiles. Do NOT toss the water they were soaking in.

Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to a blender. Add the peanut butter, tortillas, cooled sesame and pepitas, oregano, chiles, powdered stock, cloves, 2 cups of the water used to soak the chiles and puree until smooth. Add one more cup and keep processing. Ojo: because of the pepitas and chile seeds it make take a little more water to process the mixture until smooth.

Bring the puree from the blender to the dutch oven or pot where you cooked the onion. Bring the mixture to medium heat and turn down and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chocolate and continue cooking until the chocolate has melted. Taste the mole and season with salt and pepper to your taste. If the sauce is too thick add more of the chile water.

Add the chicken breasts to the mixture and simmer another 5 minutes.

Serve with classic white rice (or yellow rice) and with tortillas.

For the Mole Enchiladas

Mole Sauce
4 chicken breasts
12 tortillas
1 ½  cups Oaxaca cheese or shredded Monterey Jack
Canola oil

This recipe has you use about 12 tortillas, but if you’re using this recipe as a leftover meal, you’ll need to recalculate depending on how much mole you have left.

Use the recipe above for the sauce and shred chicken breasts.

Preheat an oven to 375F.

In a medium sauce pan, coat the pan with canola oil over medium high heat. Dip a tortilla in the oil and fry it for a few seconds until it is soft and heated through. Transfer the tortilla to a paper towel. Working quickly, put about 1/3 cup of the shredded chicken in the center, being careful not to over stuff. Roll the tortilla like a cigar and place in an oven safe dish, seam side down. Repeat this with all of the tortillas.

Pour the mole sauce over the tortillas and top with Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Take off the foil and bake another 5-8 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serve.

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