STEP 1: Deciding
In the markets here, there’s usually a few stalls that sell different types of powdered mole. A few weeks ago, Brendan bought some powdered mole from the mercado near his office, to take back with us to the States and give as gifts to a couple of our friends. He kept some for us, and this weekend, we finally decided to cook with it.
A little background on mole, from my very limited knowledge: Mole is derived from the Aztec word for sauce. It’s usually made from a complex mixture of ingredients, and can be prepared many different ways (guacamole, for example, is one you definitely know). Brendan bought a fairly common variety — mole poblano, a dark-brown spicy mole with a strong chocolate flavor. Before we could make the mole, though, we needed answers:
1. How do you go from powdered mole to real mole? (Most recipes assume you’re making your mole from scratch, or have canned mole).
2. What do we put under the mole once we prepare it?
After about an hour of internet searching and much speculation, we decided to make some type of vegetarian enchiladas. I used to make green chile enchiladas back in college in New Mexico, and so I was familiar with the cooking techniques. And to make the mole, we decided we could probably boil some veggie broth, and add the mole powder until we got a mole-like consistency (like chocolate syrup), and pour that on top of the enchiladas.
STEP 2: Shopping
We headed to our local mercado — a damn good one known as the Mercado Medellin — to purchase:
- chayote, a local vegetable that’s pretty bland, so good for a possible enchilada stuffing
- ajonjoli (sesame seeds)
- the usual purchases of onions, cilantro, limes
Next, we bought freshly made corn tortillas from the tortilleria near the mercado.
Then we went to the big truck that parks in our neighborhood where vendors sell productos de Oaxaca, including fresh Oaxacan cheese (among other goodies). We bought a quarter-kilo of cheese, to put in and on top of the enchiladas.
STEP 3: Preparing
All things considered, our ineptitude with Mexican cooking didn’t really get in the way.
I pre-cooked the sliced chayote in the oven for a long time (I tried to roast them, realizing our roaster doesn’t seem to work). Then I stuffed the chayote, refried beans and cubed Oaxacan cheese into each enchilada. I rolled them up flauta-style, and put them in a big pan and sprinkled more cheese on top. Meanwhile, Brendan worked his magic on the mole, which filled the apartment with a spicy chocolate aroma (um, yum). I threw the enchiladas in the oven for about 20 minutes (at 7,500 feet elevation, cooking takes longer than normal). Then, when they were done, I poured the mole on top.
STEP 4: Celebratory Face Stuffing
Wow. These little guys came out gorgeous and tasty. The innards (chayote, cheese and beans) were mild enough to not compete with the highly flavorful mole.