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I made an impulse buy of the largest bag of Halloween chocolates I've ever seen at Costco at the beginning of the month, and, depriving children of their handouts, have spent the last four weeks eating the entire thing almost single-handedly. So what to do when a month's supply of chocolate runs out? Have more! But this time, by the way of the complex, rich mole poblano.
Mole is a term covering many different sauces in Mexico, but it's mole poblano—a thick and savory chili and chocolate sauce from the state of Puebla—that's most synonymous with "mole" around the world. This is a sauce usually includes twenty or more ingredients, many requiring their own preparation, and the whole thing takes many hours to fully complete.
There are shortcut recipes out there, but I wanted the full-day experience of true mole preparation. I generally like to adjust recipes as I go, but with such a long process to reach a final product, this didn't seem as possible. So I opted to turn to my trustworthy source for Mexican cooking, Rick Bayless, to guide me in my mole endeavor.
I got what I asked for, completing the recipe over two days and a total of seven hours. Almost all of this time was active, spent grinding spices, toasting chilies, frying fruits and nuts, straining purées, and slowly simmering the sauce. Arduous, yes, but when I first tasted the finished mole poblano, there was no doubt where that time went.
The range and depth of this sauce was nothing short of spectacular. It was hard to point out any one ingredient, but instead everything came together as one harmonious sauce that ranged from earthy to spicy, fruity, nutty, sweet, and sometimes even bitter. I used only a small portion of the sauce to make chicken mole, and have enough left over to probably keep my chocolate train going for another whole month.
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