Apple-Pasilla Chile Mole (Mole de Manzana con Chile Pasilla)
“Usually the silky body of a mole is supplied by chilies, tomatoes, or tomatillos. But in this modern version, I’ve used apples for that purpose, a not uncommon addition to dark moles but not typically the headliner. Its perfumey sweetness — be sure you give them some color when you sauté them in the skillet — makes for a fabulously fruity sauce,” says Roberto Santibañez, chef/owner of New York City’s Fonda.
- 3 ½ oz pasilla chilies (10), wiped clean, slit open, seeded, deveined, and stems removed
- 1/3 lb tomato (1 medium), cored and a small “X” cut through the skin on the opposite end
- Three ½-inch-thick slices white onion (about ½ a large onion)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 lb sweet red apples (3), such as Macintosh, Gala, or Red Delicious, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
- ½ cup shelled peanuts, preferably raw
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 1/2-inch piece canela (Mexican cinnamon) or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp cumin seeds
- 4 cloves
- 1 tsp fine salt (or 2 tsps coarse salt)
- 6 cups chicken stock, plus another cup if necessary
- 1 to 2 tbsp sugar, if necessary
- 1 to 2 tbsp cider vinegar, if necessary
- Accompaniment: cooked pork or chicken, or duck for 6 to 8 servings
- Heat a comal, griddle, or heavy skillet over medium-low heat and toast the chilies, 2 or 3 at a time, turning over and pressing with tongs frequently, until they’re slightly blistered and the insides are tobacco colored, 1 to 1 ½ minutes total per batch. Transfer chilies to a bowl as toasted and soak in cold water to cover until soft, 30 minutes. Drain and discard the soaking water.
- While the chilies are soaking, preheat the broiler (or oven or toaster oven to 500°F) and position the oven rack 8 inches from the heat. Put the tomato and onions on the oven tray or a baking pan, leaving room for the apple slices. Roast, turning the onion over once but without turning the tomatoes, until the onion is blackened on both sides and softened, about 20 minutes, and the tomatoes are blackened on their tops and cooked to the core, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Once the onions and tomatoes are roasting, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then add the apples and sauté, turning over once, until golden, about 6 minutes. Then transfer them with tongs to the baking pan with roasting vegetables, and roast apples until tender, 10 to 20 minutes more.
- Once the apples are roasting in the oven, put the peanuts in the oil remaining in the skillet and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the onions, tomatoes, apples, and peanuts to a bowl as they finish roasting, then add the chilies, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and salt. Stir well.
- Working in two batches, put some of the mixture from the bowl in a blender along with about 1½ cups of chicken stock per batch (3 cups total) and blend to a smooth puree, at least 3 minutes per batch.
- Transfer the mole once it’s blended to a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat, stirring. Simmer vigorously, uncovered (use a splatter screen so the sauce doesn’t make a mess of the stove), stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Add just enough chicken stock to obtain a velvety texture (it should be just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon but not gloppy), about 3 cups. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, adding more stock as necessary to maintain the consistency, about 20 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar, and more salt to taste.
- Reheat the meat in the sauce over low heat.
(This mole keeps in the refrigerator for five days or frozen for a month.)
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