Devon tells me that the best birthday present she's ever received was a jar of homemade mole that I slaved over solo after a girls trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. One lonely act of mole making was enough to cure me! Since then we've made mole as a dual effort 5 times - enlisting our husbands to man the china cap. We've gotten it down to about 8 man hours making a double recipe of Cafe Pasqual's amazing recipe.
Our love of Santa Fe stems from our first girls trip which has turned into an annual pilgrimage to the land of chiles, ochre hills and pinon smoke. Since that first trip, tradition dictates our first stop is always Cafe Pasqual's-- famous for their mole, typically served on chicken enchiladas - pure perfection! To us, Cafe Pasqual's represents all that is Santa Fe, friendly people, amazing food, a little eclectic. Everything on the menu is evocative of all that agriculture in New Mexico has to offer.
Waiting a year to experience the amazing mole didn't seem practical or reasonable. Which is why year two we acquired the Cafe Pasqual's cookbook that contained the recipe for mole. Since then, we have made it a priorty to have a stash in the freezer at all times.
Okay, now we've got the stash. But who is worthy of a mole dinner? Like Elaine on Seinfeld pondering whether her dates are sponge worthy, we find ourselves asking "are they mole worthy?"
In case you haven't recieved your invitation, here's the recipe so you can try it at home. We're happy to help you man the china cap if you want a little advice. All we ask is a glass of something crisp and white and a tupperware to go....
Cafe Pasqual Mole
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
8 dried chipotle chiles
32 dried ancho chilies
32 dried pasilla negro chilies
2 large red bell pepper
2 1/2 cups sesame seeds
2 cups peanut oil
2/3 loaf french bread, sliced or cubed
2 cups walnut pieces
6 ounces Mexican chocolate
2 3 inch stick Mexican cinnamon
4 Italian plum tomatoes
8 tomatillos, husks removed
8 cloves garlic
2 ripe bananas, peeled and chopped
2 3inch pieces of fresh ginger, sliced into rounds
1 large white onion, quartered
8 quarts water
4 cups olive oil
Approx. 2-4 cups brown sugar
Serve over bbq’d chicken, duck, quail, shrimp or pork. And also in keeping with tradition, each time we make the mole we've had so much wine by the time dinner rolls around that we forget to sprinkle our meals with the reserved sesame seeds.
Wipe chiles, stem and seed.
Sauté the sesame seeds on low heat until they are slightly brown,stirring continuously. Remove from heat and place in bowl. Reserve 3-6 Tblsp. For garnish.
In a large saute pan dry roast the chilies over low heat, in batches if needed, flipping and stirring constantly. Do not let them char or they will be bitter. This takes just a minute to toast. Watch carefully! Remove as they are done and set aside.
Add the Peanut oil into the same pan and heat on medium-high. The oil should be at a depth of about ¼ inch. Fry the chilies a few at a time. They will soften, swell up get fragrant. Be careful! It only takes seconds. If you do it too long it will make the mole bitter. Remove the chilies with tongs and set them aside.
Retain the oil in the saute pan.
Roast the red bell pepper. Remove the skin, stem and seeds.
On a large cookie sheet, in a single layer, toast the bread and walnuts for 10 -15 minutes, stirring the walnuts occasionally. Meanwhile, break apart the chocolate and cinnamon stick into a large bowl Dump the walnuts and bread on top so that the chocolate melts.
Reheat the oil in the orginal sauté pan. When hot, add the tomatoes (whole), onion, garlic, banana, tomatillos and ginger. Cook about 10-15 min. until the tomato begins to char and the onion is translucent tossing constantly. Place in bowl with bread and walnuts.
Transfer the chocolate-bread-vegetable mixture to a food processor, along with the chilies. This has to be done in small batches or your food processor will overflow. Add a bit of water to each batch and puree til smooth and the consistency of a milkshake. Transfer to a china cap and have your partner mash the puree through into a pan using a spatula or wooden spoon. This is the part that takes forever. We usually collect all of puree from the china cap after each food processor batch and at the end, puree it all again, once batch at a time with additional water, straining yet again through the china cap. This almost doubles our yield.
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil until it just begins to smoke and add the puree. Be careful!. It can splatter. Combine the oil and mole with a whisk and then lower the heat to low.
Taste mole and add brown sugar to taste. It will need at least 2 cups. We usually add at least another 2/3 tablet of chocolate as well. Whisk the mole for about 20 minutes over medium heat.. Do not let the mole burn, whisk constantly to avoid scalding. The mole will darken as it heats.
To serve, ladle over grilled meats or use for enchilada sauce. The sauce keeps in the fridge for about a week, or will last in the freezer for a couple of months. We like it served with roasted yams and green rice.