This past Sunday I had it in my mind to make authentic mole. I like to order it at Mexican restaurants and restaurants in Mexico. I have made similar sauces, none of which were very authentic in comparison. After doing a cookbook and web search, I decided to make the Rick Bayless recipe - Pollo Asado en Mole Rojo Clasico (Lacquered Chicken). It could be renamed "all day mole" and well worth the effort!
This is a recipe that 'layers the flavors' to make a complex flavored sauce. My research informed me that the most important ingredient in mole is the trio of (dried) peppers - mulato, ancho, and pasilla. I hadn't seen mulato peppers the grocery store and found them at the World Harvest. Certainly they are available at the Mexican grocers, too. The rest of the ingredients, tomatillos from our garden, spices, agave, and chicken broth, etc., are ordinary and I already had most of them. But, I didn't have any lard ... who does? Decided to buy some instead of using the optional oil. (Not sure when I'll use the rest of the lard. Any suggestions on what to do with it?)
Dinner was planned for 6:30 to 7:00, and I started the mole sauce at about 2:00 and it was done right on time. It requires a lot of active cooking time to stir during the various reductions. It's a good thing that the recipe makes about three-fourths of a gallon, so we'll be able to enjoy Lacquered Chicken a few more times from the leftover quart now in our freezer!
Because the chicken mole was so complicated, I chose simple sides; Roasted sweet bell peppers and yellow rice. Recipes below.
Another impetus for the Mexican theme was that I had some chorizo that needed to be used. I found a recipe for Chalupas in Bon Appetit . I had everything to make it on hand and will definitely make it again for entertaining. It can be made ahead and the finishing assembly went quickly. My daughter did that part.
Before dinner we also had cheese and crackers, margaritas and Modelo Especial and Negra. Then to top it all off, my niece made a Tres Leches cake. I'd suggested she make that or a flan. She'd never made either before and decided on the cake. In her web search she found a recipe on Alton Brown's website, a trusted source. It's a decadent dessert that everyone (except the little ones) loved.
The Sunday dinner regulars enjoyed the return of Sean from his internship in Seattle and new to the usuals... our daughter's boyfriend's parents. I'm already thinking about what we should have next Sunday. Have some lamb in the freezer - a Greek theme might be fun!
Roasted Bell Peppers
Allow 1 pepper per person. Grill or broil until skin is blistered. Put in plastic bag, or cover in bowl and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and seeds. Place in a shallow dish and drizzle olive oil, and a nice vinegar (balsamic or sherry), salt and pepper over all. Garnish with parsley. Serve at room temp.
It's like a pilaf in that you saute onion and garlic with some butter or olive oil. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon tumeric to the mixture and the rice. Stir until rice is translucent. Add liquid and finish according to the directions for the rice.