Friday, February 25, 2011

The Food Desert Project - Mole-style Enchilada Sauce

Enchiladas are nothing without sauce...but the sauce itself is something greater than just a component of enchiladas: mole sauces can be used to enhance fried eggs, to baste roasting meats or vegetables, or even as a dip for chips.  Mole sauces originally contained peppers and spices: those containing chocolate are a relatively modern invention.  (In pre-Colombian times, chocolate was reserved only for royalty or the upper classes as a ritual drink.)

Enchiladas, however are a decidedly pre-Colombian street food: the original version was simply a corn tortilla dipped in a sauce.  Typically, Mexican enchiladas use fried tortillas that are crispier than our Americanized version that reminds me of lasagna, but this sauce will work for either type.


2 tbsp minced dried onion
1/2 tsp granulated onion
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp raisins
1/4 cup wine (either red or white)

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp oil
1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, rinsed well (1/2 jar)
1 tbsp whole cumin (or 2 tsp ground)
3 tbsp unsweetened baking cocoa
1 tbsp paprika
Cayenne pepper to taste (start with just a dash)

1 10oz can tomatoes with chilis (select your personal heat preference)
3/4 cup chicken stock

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and allow to soak in the refrigerator overnight.

Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a skillet until fragrant, then transfer them to a mortar and pestle.  Grind them into as smooth a paste as possible.  In the same skillet, place the oil and the red pepper.  Toast the pepper lightly on both sides.  Add the cumin, paprika and cayenne and allow to toast.  Add the cocoa, sesame paste, and the mixture from the refrigerator, and then mix in the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock.  Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

Pour the entire mixture into the blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend into a smooth sauce, adding chicken stock until you get the desired texture.  Return the sauce to the skillet and allow to cook for another 5 minutes to bring the flavor together.


The sauce may be used as-is to fill an omelet or as a chip dip.  For enchiladas or to braise or sauce meat, thin the sauce with stock until it is about the same texture as spaghetti sauce.

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