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Jun 23, 2012 08:08 AM

mexico city mole fix

A friend brought me some mole powders from Mexico City and they are not nearly as good as the black paste I brought back from Oaxaca a few years ago. They are Black, Red, and Almond mole powders. What can I do with them to make them richer in flavor? What can I make with them other than sauce over chicken? I don't know much about Mexican cooking, I'm just starting to investigate what's on the internet.
Thanks in advance.

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  1. Mole powders are great because they have such a long shelf life and lend them selves to so much variation.

    To reconstitute the red and the black moles, heat some oil (tablespoon or 2) until it is very hot. Add a medium tomato that has been skinned, seeded and grated on the large holes of a box grater. Cook tomato stirring until the tomato has changed colors, has emulsified and most of the liquid has been cooked off. Add how ever much mole powder you want to use. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the mixture for about 5-10 minutes stirring to prevent it from sticking and burning. Begin whisking the mole powder mixture as you add stock/broth. Add a little bit more stock/broth than you think you need. Simmer the sauce for about 30-45 minutes or until it has the consistency you want. Taste. It may need more salt and it may need the addition of some sugar. Add a little salt or sugar if needed, stir, simmer a minute or two and taste again. Repeat until it achieves the flavor profile you like.

    Mole simply means "mixture" in Nahuatl and the mixture someone else makes up may not be quite your style. Taste the raw powder and see how you like it. Is it too bitter? too sweet? too spicy? too bland? too nutty? By tasting the raw powder you can usually get a sense for what the reconstituted product will be like and make adjustments when you begin the cooking process. I learned the sauteed tomato trick from Suzana Trilling, she recommends that for some of her jarred (and quite good) mole pastes. I've tried it with several different mole powders I've brought home from Mexico. It works and it allows you to customize the mole to suit your own tastes. If you think it needs more of some spice, grind the spice and add a little to the tomato and see how it goes.

    Mole is actually a pretty versatile sauce.

    Almond - goes well with chicken, turkey, lamb, shrimp, salmon and a other firm fish, vegetables for a vegetarian entree
    Red - chicken, pork, shrimp, vegetables for a vegetarian entree
    Black - turkey, chicken, pork, beef. vegetables for a vegetarian entree

    + Mole can be added to shredded meats and used as a filling for tacos
    + Mole can be added to shredded meats and used as a filling for quesadillas, especially those that are made from fresh masa and lightly toasted on an oiled comal, or lightly fried
    + Mole can be added to shredded meats and used as a filling for tamales
    + Mole can be used as a sauce for tamales
    + Mole can be used as a sauce for enchiladas
    + Tortillas can be dipped in hot mole, folded in half, and then in half again (quartered), topped with crumbled Cotija cheese, a few white onion rings and sprinkled with chopped cilantro for Enmoladas. Serve in place of a starch with grilled meats, or, for breakfast with scrambled eggs

    Good luck and just have fun with it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DiningDiva

      What is in the powders? Are they just dried versions of the more common pastes? But since pastes are oily, I wonder how you'd dry them. Or may be they are made without the seeds or nuts that contribute the oil.

      1. re: paulj

        You know, I'm not sure. I got mine at the market in Xochimilco and I think I still have the bag in the cupboard. Let me pull it out and see what the label says. IIRC, mine has both nuts and sesame seeds and it is actually more granular than a powder.

        1. re: DiningDiva

          Thanks for the 'reconstitute with tomato' suggestion, I'll give that a try next time. I think the best thing is to just head back to Oaxaca and hit the markets and restock on all the great food stuffs they sell.
          As to paulj's comment, mine too are more granules than powder. They were given to me in clear plastic bags so I can't see what the ingredients are. The paste has lasted 4 years stored in the bottom of my fridge.
          Thanks for the ideas.