It is always wonderful to be back home, even if it is for a few weeks only. The weather is always sunny, you can see and smell the heat of the day from the moment you open your eyes in the morning till you close them at night, the house is filled with all my relatives and friends and mam's kitchen and her lovely and talented hands are always at my disposal, granting every single culinary wish and craving I may have. A case of the prodigal daughter is back. It's the best part of being back home.
This time, I decided to expand my horizons a little and I have asked a few of my relatives and friends to share some of their family recipes with me and my readers... I was a little nervous at first, but I must say, everybody has been wonderfully generous and truly accommodating and I have worked in some amazing kitchens during the past few weeks, gathering exceptional recipes, great tips and learning new tricks to make my own cooking better! Today, I want to share with you what I learned when I spent the morning working with my Aunt Irma in her 1970's kitchen making her family recipe for mole paste. As you will notice by the pictures I took, we made an industrial amount of mole paste; my aunt freezes the paste in individual family size portions so that she has it handy every time she wants to make mole. Mexican families are big, mine is the smallest with now 15 members, so the recipe I've given you is enough for you to make mole paste for about 15 people, you can decide to half it or make it all and freeze it.
To Make the Stock:
Put all the ingredients for the stock in a big pot and bring them to the boil. Lower the heat and let them simmer until the chicken is cooked, approximately 25 minutes. Take the chicken out, discard the skin and leave the pieces to accompany them with the mole once the paste is done. Sieve the stock and set aside to use later on.
For the Spice Mix:
While the stock is cooking, get on with cleaning your dried chilies. I recommend gloves for this as it does not matter how careful you are, you'll always end up rubbing your eyes and you'll regreat it! Remove the stalks from the chilies and deseed them. Set aside.
Heat the lard/oil in a big, non-stick pan at medium to high heat. When it's hot, start adding all of the spice mix ingredients one at a time: the guajillo and ancho chilies, the peanuts, the sesame seeds, the pumpkin seeds, the pecan nuts, the almonds, the garlic cloves and the cinnamon. Stir well after each addition and let them all coat in the lard/oil. it is really important that you keep stirring all the ingredients while they fry as chilies can burn easily and they give a bitter flavour to the paste if they do. Continue frying the ingredients for about 15 minutes or until the stock is ready. The spice mix would be toasted and deliciously fragrant by then.
For the Paste:
With stock and spice mix ready, we now have everything to make the paste. You might need to do this in batches if you are making the whole recipe so beware of spliting all ingredients evenly to aid the blending process. We did it in 3 batches so everything got used a third at a time.
In a the blender or food processor put a third of the following ingredients: the chicken stock, the bread, the chocolate, the spice mix and the ready made mole sauce. Blend it well until you have a smooth sauce and pour it into a big container. Repeat this step two more times or until all the ingredients have been blended. At the end, using a wooden spoon, stirr the mole paste all in the container to even the flavour.
Traditionally, mole done like this starts like a paste, similar to a curry paste, but the texture is really a matter of taste, some people like it granular and others like it smooth. Aunt Irma likes it granular so she doensn't blend it excessively. She also likes it quite liquidy so she used all of her stock.
Once everything was blended and mix, the mole paste needs to be cooled down, portioned and stored in the freezer until you need it. Thaw it out a day in advance for best results.
When you are ready to use the paste, thaw it out overnight. Gently cook it in a little bit of oil and add some extra chicken stock and seasoning to taste. If you feel it is a bit spicy for your liking, add a square of dark bitter chocolate (70% cocoa solids) to the paste and let it melt. As it gently simmers, the paste will become a thicker mole sauce that can be poured over cooked chicken or turkey with sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a side of rice. It's delicious! You can also use it to make any of the recipes with Mole that are in this blog.