Molé refers to an often dissimilar group of sauces made throughout Mexico including Molé Rojo (red), Molé Amarillo (yellow), Molé Colorado (brown), Molé Verde (green) and Molé Negro (black), just to name a few. Molé is most often used to sauce chicken and many molé recipes include nuts, while Molé Negro often includes small amounts of unsweetened Mexican chocolate.
My molé is a colorado, or brown, molé, which is really more of a deep, brick red. It’s not hard to make, but is a bit time and labor intensive and does call for a couple of specialized ingredients, but if I can obtain them in Podunk, Ohio (not exactly a hotbed of Latin American cuisine) they shouldn’t be too terribly difficult to find in most urban or suburban areas.
The sauce uses ancho chilies, which are simply dried pablano peppers, and these are what gives it the deep, brick red color. It is not a terribly spicy dish, but it is a wonderfully rich and complex one. The original recipe calls for using a comal (a flat, cast-iron disk with a handle) to toast the chilies and garlic, but over the years I’ve come to handle all of the roasting, frying and cooking (in that order) in a 12-inch, well-seasoned, cast iron skillet. It certainly helps with the time factor, and gives you a lot less to clean up afterwards.
The original recipe also called for lard; for health reasons, I’ve substituted a non-hydrogenated vegetable oil. Also make sure you purchase the best quality corn tortillas you can find; many on the market are made with a corn powder, rather than a good stone-ground masa, and will disintegrate in the dish.
Tricia, you can leave the onions off of this. Elaine, this is egg free! Michele, I imagine a good TVP would make a nice, vegetarian filling for this. Janie, I’m sorry about the list of ingredients, and Jen – oops, this one ain’t real diet friendly. But it’s really, really good.
12 corn tortillas
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken, kept warm
3 large ancho chilies
Hot water to cover
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
8 raw, unskinned almonds
1/2 large, very ripe plantain
2 medium tomatoes, broiled and cored
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
3/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 large red onion, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 ° F.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and lightly toast the chilies, turning them from time to time so they do not burn. While they are still pliable, slit them open and remove the stem, seeds and veins. Cover them with hot water and let them soak for about 15 to 20 minutes.
In the same skillet, toast the clove of garlic until golden brown, taking care not to burn it. Halve it, removing any green that may be in the center. Set aside.
Add 1 -2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil to the skillet and fry the almonds until they are well browned, stirring freuqently so they do not burn. Crush them slightly and set aside. Skin the plantain, slice it lengthwise and fry it until golden on both sides.
Place the plantains, almonds and broiled tomatoes into a blender or food processor and blend to a smooth puree; add a little water if necessary. Set aside.
Separately, blend the chilies with 1/2 cup of the water used to soak them, the spices and garlic to a smooth puree.
Heat another 2 – 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in the skillet and cook the chili puree on high heat about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the tomato/plantain mixture and then return to the heat, cooking for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring all the time so it does not stick; be careful, it can spatter about some.
Stir 1 cup of the chicken broth gradually into the sauce and continue cooking it for a minute or so. At this point you can strain it through a coarse sieve, but if you choose not to, that is fine; it will have a nice, rustic texture if left unstrained. Heat the sauce over low heat, salting to taste, and cook for another 15 minutes.
In a small skillet, heat the 1/2 cup vegetable oil but do not let it get too hot; place a tortilla into it for a few seconds – you want to soften the tortilla, not fry it. Gently remove the tortilla with a pair of tongs, letting the excess oil drop back into the pan, then lay it flat in a shallow glass baking dish. Cover the tortilla with a thin layer of the sauce, place some of the shredded chicken down the center, and roll it up, placing it seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, laying the enchiladas side by side, until the dish is filled.
Thin down the remainder of the sauce with the 1/2 cup of broth and pour it over the enchildadas. Sprinkle the surface with the cheese and onion.
TURN THE OVEN OFF. Place the dish of enchiladas in the oven, and let heat through for about 5 – 10 minutes.