Mole Rojo Clásico - Comfort Mexican

Mole Rojo Classico

So, once I had decided to challenge myself with making Mole from scratch for the Daring Cooks Risotto challenge, it was just a simple step of choosing the recipe and putting together the ingredients. Right? No, Wrong!

Searching for a Mole recipe, I came by a few in increasing order of complexity and number of ingredients. I finally went with Rick Bayless's recipe for Classic Red Mole even though it's more involved than some others, because, I just loved him on "Top Chef Masters"! He was so modest, sweet and nice (not mention adorable!). He and Hubert Keller were my favorites! Plus, he is indeed known to be the master of Mexican cuisine. One day, I plan to visit Chicago just to dine at Frontera Grill!

Finding the recipe was the easy part, even though I spent atleast two hours in the middle of the night trawling through the web in search of the perfect one! As I said, Mr. Bayless's recipe is a bit more ingredient intensive calling for three different dried chillies - Pasilla, Mulato and Ancho (quite a few others used only Ancho chillies).

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The next day, I happily skipped off to the nearby grocery store in search of these ingredients. I thought, in a city that has a significant Mexican presence, finding Mexican ingredients would be a breeze. Oh no no, not at all. I live on the Upper East Side, south of Spanish Harlem. I nosed around four major grocery chains in my neighbourhood but not one carried anything close to chillies. The best I could find was chipotle chillies in adobo sauce. GAH!

Fortunately, the staff in these stores are largely Spanish and quite nice when you chat them up. So I did, and found out that the only place I am likely to find the ingredients I needed were a Spanish store (or perhaps at "Gourmet" prices from Whole Foods). So I trekked about 20 blocks North into Spanish Harlem and found this tiny Mexican Grocery (it really was named that!).

As soon as I stepped into the store, I achieved Nirvana. No kidding! All the time, I was in the shop, I was grinning ear to ear! And, ofcourse that clearly endeared me to the shop staff and they were super friendly, patient and nice! :) Here was a veritable source of all things authentic Mexican and at fantastic prices! I picked up chilies (every single kind needed and more just because...), tomatillos (oh! I love them!), fresh queso. I even eyed the traditional clay pots, but decided to get that on another trip!

Once everything was in place, the mole came out wonderful! Rick Bayless's recipe does have many steps to it and it is a time consuming process but the end results are totally worth all the effort that goes into it. The mole is smooth in texture and flavor and after the hours of simmering, the flavors from the chilies, roasted tomatillo, sesame and chocolate (I used Peruvian that my cousin had brought me) blend together so beautifully. Indeed, it is a special occasion dish.

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I made quite a lot of it, actually. So after the risotto, I served it over tortilla rolls filled with shredded chicken, queso and avocados. Toasted sesame seeds on top adds yet another layer of flavor to the dish.

Vacation Announcement: I am off to discover the vast lands of Australia for the next three weeks and meeting some of the Aussie bloggers! YIPPEE!! Soo looking forward to it. In the meantime, I have scheduled posts for publishing for various challenges, so please do continue to check this blog while I am away in distant lands.

Also, the first edition of FSK cafe has now closed for submission. I will post the round up when I am back in April!