We love Mexican food in our house. Normally we eat it at least once a week, although it usually comes in the form of simple tacos or fajitas (and always pickled jalapeños, which Jenna seems to have become addicted to). Last week I felt a bit ambitious and decided to make enchiladas with a homemade mole sauce. There are many versions of mole, the most famous ones being molé poblano and mole negro. I made neither of those, and ended up making an approximation using what I had on hand. As many Mexicans I know will be quick to point out, a traditional mole can use more than 40 ingredients. The most essential ingredients are the dried chilies, and I’m lucky to have a wide variety at my local supermarket. I chose a mixture of guajillo and mulato chilies, but ancho or pasilla chilies are also good choices. Just make sure to allow plenty of time to make the mole, or even make it the day before – it is quite a process, but well worth the effort. I’m going to try to have some of this in the fridge all the time.
Homemade Mole (makes about 4 cups)
4 ounces dried chilies (see above)
10 tomatillos, husks still on
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 large vidalia onion
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 cup date sugar (brown sugar may be substituted, but less will be needed)
salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the stems from the dried chilies and shake out the seeds. Put them on a foil-lined baking sheet along with the tomatillos and garlic. Roast them all together. Remove the chilies when they have darkened considerably. Remove the tomatillos when they have become noticeably soft, and remove the garlic when it is golden. Put the chilies in a bowl and cover with warm water. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes. Peel the tomatillos and garlic, and set them aside.
Peel the onion and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices. Preheat a grill pan on high heat, then grill the onion on both sides until nicely charred and softened throughout. Drain the dried chilies, and put them in a blender or food processor with the tomatillos, garlic, onion, cumin, oregano and tomato paste. Blend it all together, adding enough stock to reach the desired consistency. Add date sugar and salt to taste. Transfer it all to a saucepan and simmer on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Use right away, or refrigerate and use later.