Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine’s Mole

I have been craving peanut butter cups ever since I saw the Reese’s peanut butter hearts in the Valentine’s Day candy aisle a few weeks ago. When I went grocery shopping last week and looked for them again, they were gone. More than a little heartbroken, I’ve been craving that magical peanut butter chocolate combination ever since.

Such is the way of holiday candy. A little not-so subliminal messaging goes a long way toward feeding my cravings. Knowing that Easter is only a couple of months away and with it a whole bunch of other candy cravings I decided to feed my need for peanut butter and chocolate in a different way with chicken mole.

I didn’t know a whole lot about mole, other than two of its magic ingredients were chocolate and peanut butter. I also heard it was complicated to make and so was happy when I found Marcela Valladolid’s ‘Easiest Ever’ Chicken Mole Enchiladas recipe on the Food Network site.

After checking the recipe I found I already had majority of the ingredients including queso fresco and corn tortillas from tacos last week as well as dried Guajillo chili peppers. All I needed was chicken and some Mexican chocolate as the recipe called for.

I looked for Ibarra chocolate at Woodman’s but was surprised to come away empty handed. The recipe said I could substitute semi-sweet chocolate, or ground cinnamon and almond extract for the chocolate but since it was such an integral ingredient I wanted to do it right. Luckily there’s a Mexican grocery store on the way home so I decided to stop there.

They were serving prepared tamales, tacos, and much more there, which was hard to pass up, but I ignored the little restaurant set up in the back corner of the store and went straight to the aisles where I found the Ibarra chocolate right away. I wandered through the aisles looking at all the products I might want to try, holding myself back from buying a bunch of packaged goods that looked sweet and exotic, but couldn’t avoid one treasure. I found a sort of bento box, shaped like a big thermos with a number of plastic containers packed inside. It was a steal at $2.69 and I can’t wait to take my leftovers to work in it.

Back at home I started the process of making the mole sauce first by reconstituting my dried chilies in hot water. After 15 minutes they were still a little bit like plastic, but since I’d be processing them in a blender, I thought the texture would work. In addition to the peppers, I added garlic, onion, chicken broth, peanut butter and sugar to the blender. When I was done I had a red-orange sauce typical of most Mexican sauces, but not yet the dark brown color of mole sauce. That would come after I added the chocolate after simmering for about 20 minutes.

After that, the rest of the recipe was simple. I shredded two chicken breasts, put that with some mole sauce inside the corn tortillas, wrapped them up, and then added a little sauce on top. On top of that I added a little queso fresco.

It wasn’t a bad knock-off to my favorite mole dish at La Mestiza in Madison. The only difference I noticed was that my sauce was a little thicker, but the taste was pretty much the same. As usual I couldn’t taste the peanut butter and chocolate inside, but I still feel like my craving has been satisfied. At least until those peanut butter chocolate eggs start whispering to me in a month or so.