|Pollo con mole. Tortillas. Refried beans topped with cheese. ©2016 Mason West.|
Yet there is a shortcut that I used tonight, so I can tell you how to come up with... Well, not a perfect mole, but a reasonably good approximation for a half hour of preparation and an hour of baking. But let's start with the linguistics:
A sauce made from soybean oil (in old traditional family recipes they used lard), pulverized chili peppers, peanuts, a bit of sugar, and, yes, just a trace of cocoa powder.
Beans, usually pinto beans, unless they say something like frijoles negros, black beans, which are popular in Cuban and Caribbean dishes.
|Doña María Mole Sauce|
The jar that the sauce comes in is designed to be reusable as a small glass. As someone who likes to accumulate household goods from scratch at each new address, glass containers that double as juice and whiskey glasses, offer a decisive feature when it comes to shopping. I move in with my old friend, the Gandhi cup, and a set of bamboo eating utensils—fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks—but after a few months I've got a cabinet full of mismatched glasses, random bowls, and plates, and a drawer of a few forks and knives, including a decent kitchen knife. The kitchen may not look like much, but it is functional and affordable, and when it comes time to go, I can walk away from it.
Then it's time to try twisting off. I find that I can twist the lid—which works with many jelly jars—but there are no threads on the glass, which is how you want the rim of a drinking glass: smooth, uniform, and without threads.
Then I try pushing a butter knife up under the edge of the lid, and that's hard. So I find Doña María's Web site and call their customer support number, but they say they're closed today (a Thursday!), so I fill in the form on the Web site to explain my conundrum, though this won't help. Then I go back to work with the knife and the lid, and gradually a bump appears on the edge of the lid. Finally, after about ten minutes, the lid pops off. Fortunately I did this inside the 12-inch-square pan I'm going to use to cook the chicken, so the little bit of spillage is contained where it won't be wasted.
|The jar, the knife, and the stubborn lid.|
With the jar open, I scoop it's contents, which has a consistency somewhat like wet clay, into a saucepan. Then I add four cups of filtered water from my Brita pitcher, and turn on the burner to a low slow flame. I don't want this to boil, but I want the block of concentrated mole sauce to dissolve into the water to make a thick viscous sauce with its rich, characteristic mole flavor. After ten minutes or so the sauce has dissolved into the water. There are a few lumps left, but I decide that an hour in a hot oven while the chicken is baking will take care of those.
Then I open up the fresh package of boneless chicken thighs and lay them side-by-side (no layering) in the pan. I pour the mole sauce over the thighs. Then I slice an onion and lay the slices over the chicken, and pour more mole over the top. Finally I cover the pan with aluminum foil so that the moisture and steam will stay inside. I want the chicken to cook thoroughly until it is extremely tender and saturated with the flavors of the mole.
|The clay-like concentrated mole|
fresh out of the jar. ©2016 MW.
|The chicken laid, unlayered, in|
the roasting pan. ©2016 MW.
|With sliced onion floating in the mole|
sauce over the chicken thighs, I feel
condident that this will be a tasty
dish. ©2016 MW.