Mole and Memories by Margo Elfstrom
When I think of Mole, I think of a little Mexican restaurant I used to frequent in North Denver. The entire family worked in the restaurant, including Grandma, who was hell on wheels (I mean that in the affectionate, loving sense). As you might have guessed, she was the head cook and the matriarch and whatever she said was law. Her English was limited but she always welcomed me with a huge smile and bustled back to the kitchen to make chicken mole, which she served with rice and the best spiced beans I’ve ever eaten.
Her Mole sauce was amazing, it was dark, slightly bitter and yet sweet and spicy enough to dance on your tongue without that feeling of having your mouth melted. It was a symphony of tastes and the homey-ness of the restaurant contributed to the experience. As with many things, this is a memory relegated to the past. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been there and I hope it’s still around and Grandma is still doing well and running the kitchen with an iron fist.
I’d really like to borrow her for the day because I’ve never made Mole in my life and could use the guidance. There are many days where I could probably use her guidance. She didn’t have any illusions about her place in the world or what her purpose in life was, it was to be the glue for her family and their business and to make amazing Mole, red sauce and green chile. I on the other hand have spent the last week feeling completely unprepared, unorganized and like a deer in headlights! So in thinking of putting together this dish, I’m looking for the life lesson. It seems to be constant with my cooking, every dish teaches me something about life. Not sure what it is with Mole yet but maybe it’s that life is sometimes bitter, sometimes spicy and sometimes sweet or all three at the same time. In any case, to quote FaceBook, it’s complicated, although I’m amending that to it’s not really complicated, I spend a lot of time creating my own chaos. This sauce is really pretty straight forward, there are a lot of ingredients and it requires attention. Mine came out really thick, so I did add extra chicken broth…I’ll let you decide.
Maybe later, I’ll take a trip up to North Denver and see if that restaurant is still there. I’m debating whether to take some Mole sauce with me and see if Grandma’s still working the kitchen. I have a pretty good idea that I’d wind up in the back getting a lesson in Mexican cooking because that’s how she would roll. If not, I think I’ll be a little depressed but nothing ventured, nothing gained. ENJOY and don’t forget to stop by at Comfortably Hungry and visit Sam!
- 4 dried Pasilla chilies, stems and seeds removed
- 4 dried red New Mexican chilies, stems and seeds removed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed, chopped
- 2 Tbls. sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 Corn tortilla, torn in pieces
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
- 3 Tbls. olive oil
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 oz. bitter chocolate (or more to taste) or 2 Tbls. baking cocoa
- Combine chiles, onion, garlic, tomatoes, 1 Tbls. sesame seeds, almonds, tortilla, raisins, cloves, cinnamon, and coriander. Puree small amounts of mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Heat oil in a skillet and sautee puree for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth and chocolate and cook over very low heat for 45 minutes. The sauce should be very thick. Remaining sesame seeds are used for garnish. When its cool, store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
- This makes enough mole for several meals.