What I learned in México

Last month we went to San Miguel de Allende, México to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. While we were there, four of the twelve of us took a 5-hour cooking class where we learned to make mole and two other dishes. Prior to this class I was no fan of mole, but since I love to cook and the birthday boy wanted to learn how to make mole, I went with the flow and learned how to make the labor-intensive recipe. Now mole is really just a sauce with many variations and each state in México has it’s own approach to it. Most of us in the USA know of mole as a very chocolatey affair that is a bit of an acquired taste. In reality there are only really two Mexican states that use chocolate in their mole. The version we were taught had chocolate. But the sauce was so damn good and the chocolate was more of an undertone to the flavor and it tasted nothing like anything I had ever had before.

A week after we were home I decided I had to give making mole at home a whirl. Part of me wanted to make sure I didn’t forget the method we learned since my notes were a little spotty. Part of me wanted to show John what mole was supposed to taste like since he hadn’t been at the class. And part of me just wanted the chance to eat it again.

A good mole has at least 20 different ingredients in it. I think the recipe I have has about 25. Finding all of them required a trip to a Hispanic market in Silver Spring.
A good mole has at least 20 different ingredients in it. I think the recipe I have has about 25. Finding all of them required a trip to a Hispanic market in Silver Spring.
Prep is everything. Getting all the raw ingredients measured and ready to go is a must. Over the next several houses we'll be toasting, roasting, and frying most everything you see here.
Prep is everything. Getting all the raw ingredients measured and ready to go is a must. Over the next several hours we’ll be toasting, roasting, and frying most everything you see here.
Did I mention I had to make stock the day before?
Did I mention I had to make stock the day before?
Everything appears to be ready.
Everything appears to be ready.
When we learned how to make it in class, the instructor had us taste the sauce after every addition. I wanted John and our friend Sarah to have the same experience so I had them taste it after each step.
When we learned how to make it in class, the instructor had us taste the sauce after every addition. I wanted John and our friend Sarah to have the same experience so I had them taste it after each step. We even used these little tasting spoons that I bought in the market in SMdA for almost no money.
IMG_5335
After charring, these will all get liquefied and form the base of the sauce along with the chicken stock.
Some things, like sesame seeds get dry toasted.
Some things, like sesame seeds get dry toasted.
Peppercorn, clove, and cinnamon stick also get dry toasted.
Peppercorn, clove, and cinnamon stick also get dry toasted.
Three kinds of dried chiles get toasted before being soaked in water.
Three kinds of dried chiles get toasted before being soaked in water.
And then the frying in pork lard begins.
And then the frying in pork lard begins.
This is what raisins look like after being fried in lard. They sure plump up.
This is what raisins look like after being fried in lard. They sure plump up.
Plaintains getting golden in the lard.
Plaintains getting golden in the lard.

IMG_5365 IMG_5381

Getting the toasted and soaked chiles ready for the blender.
Getting the toasted and soaked chiles ready for the blender.
All the dry ingredients get ground down into the finest power or paste. The goal is a very smooth sauce.
All the dry ingredients get ground down into the finest power or paste. The goal is a very smooth sauce.
This is what it looks like after you swirl in the pulverized plantain.
This is what it looks like after you swirl in the pulverized plantain.
Plating up with a little rice and poached chicken.
Plating up with a little rice and poached chicken.
If the cooking instructor's version was a 10. Mine was about an 8.5.
If the cooking instructor’s version was a 10. Mine was about an 8.5.

8 thoughts on “What I learned in México

  1. Frances Evangelista (@nonsuchbook) February 28, 2016 / 8:41 am

    Oh my god, you’ve made me hungry. I love mole. In the recipe I make, you stew pieces of chicken in the sauce for hours before serving. And let me know if you ever want to take a cooking class together? One of my favorite things to do.

    Like

  2. Claire (The Captive Reader) February 28, 2016 / 2:39 pm

    Wow, that looks very impressive. Mexican food is almost non-existent where I live so I’m always excited when I go to California and it’s everywhere. I need to take the next step and learn how to start making my own at home…but might need to start with something a little more straightforward than mole!

    Like

  3. Tom Perkins February 28, 2016 / 3:17 pm

    Hi Thomas, we are on a roll, yesterday i listened to the podcast and order “Victoria 4:30” based on your input and today I learned you were in San Miguel. My partner and I have had a house in San Miguel since 1999 and I lived there full time for about three years, now we spend the summer there. No sure where you took the glass , but if it was with Patsy Du Bois, she is a good friend and we have spent many happy times at her ranch. Hope you enjoyed your time in this special place.
    Tom (aka Tomas in San Minguel)

    Like

  4. pearlsandvermin February 28, 2016 / 10:36 pm

    Your kitchen is lovely! I’ve never had mole before, but I may give it a shot next time I eat out. Also, greetings from Silver Spring!

    Like

  5. Christy February 29, 2016 / 7:34 pm

    Gorgeous photos of the process! The picture of preparing the chiles for the blender reminded me of an involved enchilada recipe I made only three times. (Still not as involved as a recipe as this one though.)

    Like

  6. Karen K. March 4, 2016 / 3:00 pm

    Great photos — just like a cooking blog! And I’m so impressed with your dedication to recreating this recipe. I was watching Beat Bobby Flay recently and he and a challenger tried to make mole in 45 minutes, I can’t imagine how they would do that after reading your post! Yours looks delicious.

    Like

  7. architectdesignblog March 7, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    And now I’m hungry for Mole and margaritas and I have you to thank for that! Calling Bob to reschedule dinner plans to El Centro!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s