I love mole.  Mostly because I love enchiladas, and mole just makes enchiladas taste awesome.  Mole is also my secret ingredient in mexican rice and refried beans.  It adds such a great zip to food.  It’s like the perfect “tex-mex” sauce.   I’ve been tweaking this particular recipe for a few years now, and I never remember to actually post it… so now, I’m remembering.  I only hope all y’all like it as much as I do.  Or at least are sufficiently intrigued to use it as a jumping-off point to your own explorations.

The goods:

4 oz dried ancho peppers, seeds and stem removed

1 oz dried guajillo peppers, seeds and stem removed*

* If you want more or less heat, fell free to switch it up.  I do recommend sticking with the ancho for the main pepper though, it’s got the richest and “smokiest” taste to me.  Also, you want to find a good spice vendor to get quality dried peppers.  I like Penzeys Spices (and you can order online) but any place where you can get good spices will do.  Unless you’re incredibly lucky (or, y’know, not up in New England), you probably won’t be able to get any quantity of really good dried peppers in your neighborhood supermarket.

extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion (I like vidalia, they cook up sweeter), diced

1 – 2 tsp minced garlic (I totally cheat and get the stuff in a jar. The fresh minced garlic, not the dried stuff, please.)

4 tomatoes, diced

6ish cups water (use chicken stock for a richer flavor if you’re not vegetarian)

salt and pepper to taste

dried cilantro

dried cumin

agave syrup (or white sugar, but if you can get agave syrup, the flavor is fantastic)

1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate.

 

The method:

– Place your dried peppers (you HAVE taken out the stems and seeds, right?  If not, just hack into them with scissors and scrape the stuff off) into a large bowl and cover with boiling water.  Cover the bowl and let sit for at least half an hour.

– In the meantime, you can be dicing your onion and tomato.

– Drizzle a good several tablespoons of your oil into a good-sized stockpot.  Heat on medium until hot.

– Add onion and garlic.  Saute until onions are soft.

– Add tomato.  Saute for a few minutes.

– Drain peppers, discarding liquid.  (*note: some recipes say to reserve this liquid for the sauce, but I find that this makes the sauce WAY too spicy.  So it’s up to you.)

– Add peppers to stockpot and cover with fresh water or stock.  It took about 6 cups for me, but I guess it depends on the dimensions of your cooking vessel.

– Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for like an hour.  Your kitchen will smell AWESOME.  Also, the longer you simmer, the better the flavor gets, so be patient.

– Remove pot from heat and blend everything together until smooth.  Seriously, puree the everliving tar out of it. ** Here’s where I swear by my trusty stick blender.  Can you even imagine trying to ladle hot sauce into a blender and hoping you don’t splash yourself?  Stick blenders RULE.

– Return to heat and bring back to a gentle simmer.  Add your chocolate.  Stir until it’s melted and dissolved.

– I can’t stress this one enough: TASTE YOUR SAUCE.  Even though it’s not done yet, you’ll want to at least get an idea of the heat level before you’re finished.  If your sauce is too spicy, add sugar or agave syrup.  I ended up squeezing in about 2 – 3 tablespoons of agave syrup.  Taste again.  The sweetness will mellow the heat but keep the zippy flavor.  Add dried cilantro and cumin, to taste.

– Simmer for at least 15 more minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

The chocolate gives the mole this beautiful velvety texture, which works so well with the heat and the sweet and… yeah, this is like my favorite sauce ever.

Serving options?  Enchiladas are always a winner.  I served my most recent batch with pork “carnitas” (I opted to just roast some pork butt in foil for 2 hours instead of cooking it for 10 hours the traditional way).  Chicken in mole is also a traditional hit.  Add some mole to your next can of refried beans to improve the texture and flavor.  Use mole to spice up your mexican rice.   There are so many possibilities!

… Okay, now I’m starving.  Who’s up for tacos?