brutti ma buoni.

Two words: chilequiles rojo. Torn down and reconstructed, expat-style.
  1. Make some perfect "basic black beans" (lots of cumin and garlic, also bay leaves, oregano, epazote, a couple of toasted and seeded whole guajillo chiles, tiny pinches of allspice, cinnamon, and clove. Cook for an hour or more until beans are almost done, then add chopped canned tomatoes, remove guajillos, puree them, and add back into beans, cook for 30 more minutes or until done, salt to taste).
  2. Make a thin mole rojo (I did mine with pecan as the nut, ancho as the chile, and a shot of maple syrup instead of plantain as the sweetener). Recipe to follow.
  3. Lightly crunch up a bag of tortilla chips (meaning don't pulverize it) and soak the pieces in the mole for 10 minutes or so.
  4. Line a baking dish with the mole-soaked chips. Grate a thin layer of medium-young goat cheese over this.
  5. Then spread a thick layer of the black beans on top of the rest.
  6. Chop a sweet onion fine and add a layer of this.
  7. Add a thin layer of mole if you've got some left.
  8. Then grate some more goat cheese on top, or use another mild white cheese like haloumi.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, broiling the top if'n you want.
  10. While it's baking, throw together a pico di gallo, let it sit for 15 minutes or so, strain, and toss/sprinkle this over the top when it comes out, and serve.

ETA: In my haste to congratulate myself last night, I may have oversimplified the "recipe" above. And I should re-emphasize that this is chilequiles in name and ingredients only: the presentation is 100% dense potluck casserole, I guess Cooking Light would call it Quik 'n Eazy Barely Cheezy Chilequiles Pie or something. But, if you're a careful layerer it can look pretty when cut. I myself am not such a careful layerer.

I made this for a dinner party last night whose guest of honor was a roasted kid (goat, that is). This was supposed to be a side dish or vegetarian main. It is almost as dense as it looks (pictured above is a cold and therefore denser-looking leftover piece), but it's still very healthy-feeling, there's almost no fat in it except for the cheese. And the tortilla chips.

Anyway, there are some fine tweaks that make a big difference: a little mint and a fresh clove of garlic in your pico de gallo, and straining the pico after it sits for a bit; a couple of guajillo chiles in your beans, etc. The biggest question we had over here was: how would the tortilla chips work texturally? I was hoping that they would disintegrate into the mole and end up something like a tamale crust and that's pretty much what happened.

Here's the mole recipe, designed to emulate the flavors of a real, day-long mole by using cheats on top of cheats. The sesame oil actually works, if you add it at the beginning. There are so many shortcuts in here that (colorful hyperbolic statement goes here). Note: watch your salt on this, because the the tortilla chips are salty themselves.


quick 'n lazy mole rojo.

3 ancho chiles, toasted for 1 minute per side in a sautepan
1 guajillo chile, toasted for 1 minute per side in a sautepan
1-2 cups vegetable broth, boiling hot
8 cloves garlic, pressed
3/4 cup pecans, toasted

1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
1-2 tbsp roasted sesame oil or walnut oil if you don't believe me about the sesame oil

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pimenton
1 tsp allspice
1 tbsp good Dutch cocoa powder
1 tbsp maple syrup or a bit more if you're like me
salt to taste


OK! Pour the boiling vegetable broth over the chiles to cover and hope that your chiles don't generate bitter chile water. Let them sit for 15-20 minutes in the broth, then remove them (reserving the broth) and puree them with the garlic and pecans, adding broth to facilitate if necessary.

In a wok or similar, toast the oregano and cumin for 30-60 seconds until just fragrant. Add sesame oil, stir to incorporate toasted spices, then add garlic-chile puree and saute everything for a minute or so until the garlic gives you "that smell" (but not That Smell).

Stir the reserved broth into the chile puree mixture, then add the cinnamon and remaining ingredients. Salt to taste, and simmer for 30 minutes or so. The main goal here is to mellow the garlic and reduce the sauce slightly. You're going for a consistency that is barely thinner than a standard tomato sauce. This recipe should make a cup or two of faux-mole.



Klary Koopmans said...

four words: mole rojo recipe, please?

MEM said...

hey klary, i'll try to have the forensics team reconstruct my actions...but i'm growing a bit skeptical about my transcription abilities...the last couple of my posted recipes I've tried to re-use have failed pretty dismally.

please do let me know if you try this one when i post it and whether it comes close to succeeding or not....

Klary Koopmans said...

ah, thanks.. it looks so good! now, one more question, where do you get your guajillo and ancho chiles.. I only have pasilla's.. I guess if I use those, it will just add another cheat to the faux mole :)

MEM said...

thanks for saying it looks good, its appearance is actually my least favorite thing about it...

i get my chiles from my mom in arizona. i'm just about to put in a new order, so i'll hook you up. anything else specific you're looking for?