MOLE NEGRO OAXAQUENO (Black Mole from Oaxaca)

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MOLE NEGRO OAXAQUENO (Black Mole from Oaxaca)

``Oaxaca is famous for its many mole sauces. The nickname for this state, in fact, is the `Land of the Seven Moles.' Black mole -

a king among moles - is traditionally used in making enmoladas, two fried tortillas that are folded into a triangle and soaked in the sauce, then garnished with onion rings and fresh Oaxaca cheese. This recipe is from Vazquez Colmenars.''

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In addition to tortillas, mole can also be served with ``turkey, chicken, or pork that has been stewed and then cooked in the mole to flavor.''

2 cups lard or vegetable oil

1 small sweet roll or croissant

1/3 cup raw almonds, skinned

1/3 cup raw peanuts or walnuts

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1 medium plantain, in 1/2-inch slices

1-1/2 white onions, roasted (see note on roasting below)

10 cloves garlic, roasted

10 chiles chihuacles* or mulatos*, roasted, seeded, deveined, and soaked in hot water for about 20 minutes

10 chiles pasillas*, preferably black, (same technique as chihuacles above)

2 chiles chipotles* (same technique)

2 to 3 tablespoons mixed seeds from above chiles*, roasted

6 avocado leaves* (optional) or 1/4 teaspoon dried anise, roasted

1 tablespoon whole allspice, roasted

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, roasted

4 large plum tomatoes, roasted

4 tortillas, charred

6 to 8 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned (if homemade, skim the fat)

4 onion slices

Salt to taste

3 to 4 ounces Mexican chocolate tablets* (containing cinnamon) or, if unavailable, 3 to 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate squares, cut into pieces

* Available in Mexican specialty markets and some gourmet-food stores

Heat a little lard in a skillet. Fry sweet roll until brown, and remove. Drain on paper towels. Fry almonds, peanuts, and sesame seeds in the same pan. Remove and drain. Add a little more lard to the pan, and fry plantain. Remove and drain.

In a blender or food processor, blend roasted onions, garlic, and chiles chihuacles, pasillas, and chipotles. (One technique for roasting is to heat a dry griddle to very hot. Put ingredient on the griddle for only about 50 to 60 seconds, until it chars slightly. Watch closely, and discard if burned.) Add enough water in which chiles were soaked to facilitate blending. Set chile mixture aside. In a blender or food processor, blend roll, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, plantain, chile seeds, avocado leaves, allspice, peppercorns, tomatoes, and tortillas with enough broth (about 1 to 2 cups) to blend smoothly. (Blend in batches, if necessary.) Strain and reserve.

Put remaining lard in a heavy saucepan. Saute onion slices until brown, and remove. Pour in nut-spice mixture, and fry over low heat until fat begins to rise to the surface. Add chile mixture. Continue cooking over low heat until fat rises to the surface. Salt to taste. Add chocolate and as much of the remaining broth as necessary to make a mole the consistency of thick cream. Serves 8.

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