Mole is not simple. Mole is not easy. It is two days of gathering ingredients and cooking during naps. This really counts as slow food. I wasn’t really even a fan of mole until I cooked it for the first time. There are so many unexpected ingredients and techniques that you realize how complex and artful Mexican cooking really is. I couldn’t trust anyone but Rick Bayless to show me with love and affection the intricacies of this dish. I combined a version of his mole sauce with the Cooks Illustrated Carnitas recipe to make some dandy enchiladas.
Back to Mole: 20+ ingredients, all fried up in one skillet in a special order. I can’t even begin to recount the Bayless method of Mole but I’ll give you an idea of the ingredients. The reason it’s special and different than other sauces is that it’s thickened with nuts and breads. No other method or cuisine uses this idea as far as I know.
lots of dried chiles: mulatos (CM never has these), anchos, pasillas, and canned chipotles
stale white bread
aniseed (I skip this every time because I never have it)
While the mole is the highlight, it should also be noted that the carnitas are fantastic in many ways. It’s the easiest recipe for pulled pork that I’ve tried and the flavors are so delicate that they go with everything. For example, I put some in the collards and black-eyed peas to make a hearty soup the night before the mole magic.
|1||(3 1/2-to 4-pound) boneless pork butt , fat cap trimmed to 1/8 inch thick, cut into 2-inch chunks|
|Table salt and ground black pepper|
|1||teaspoon ground cumin|
|1||small onion , peeled and halved|
|1||teaspoon dried oregano|
|2||tablespoons juice from 1 lime|
|1||medium orange , halved|
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about 1/3 cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking.
2. Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heatsafe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid.
For the enchiladas, I tried white corn tortillas for the first time. They were very tender and easy to roll without warming them. But, they did not hold up in cooking. This could be because I didn’t spray them with pam as I usually do to make them roll easier or because they’re just generally softer.
To complete the meal,
Black beans with Lizano (Costa Rican Ketchup)
Clearly I was wiped out after this effort because I forgot to take a picture of my beautiful work. Also drank this with an amazing Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir that went well with the slow heat of the sauce.