Photo Credit: e. rosemond-hoerr
I've met a lot of people who grew up eating certain foods on certain days of the week, every week for their entire childhood. You know, Spaghetti Sunday or Taco Tuesday. I even once heard a woman on NPR's This American Life who had never eaten any meat but chicken until she reached college. While my parents never designated foods to a specific day (except for pizza on Fridays, but that was a TGIF celebration), there were certain foods that routinely circled through the menu and certain foods that were saved for special occasions.
As an adult, I've found that I do the same thing. During the summer, we eat tacos at least once a week. We also frequently dine on turkey burgers, homemade pizza, fried rice and salads. I won't braise a short rib on a weekday, so what we eat is often dictated by a combination of season, convenience and time. I assume that most of you approach eating in a similar fashion.
However, I'm always trying to break out of that pattern. First of all, I get sick of things quickly, so certain recipes are always fading in and out of rotation. But more than that, I'm always striving to make cooking and eating less of a chore and more of an adventure. Part of that is finding foods that are new and interesting that I can easily throw into the mix.
This week I tried my hand at the Mexican dish mole (pronounced mol-ay). In America “mole sauce” usually refers to a sauce made with dried chiles and chocolate, but in Mexican Spanish “mole” just means “sauce.” The chocolate chile sauce is a variation of a mole negro, which includes a number of chiles and chocolate. This recipe is comprised of what I could find at my neighborhood market and what I had on hand, though as always, there is room for experimentation, interpretation and growth. Served over whole grain quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), this dish was spicy, rich, and healthy. It could easily become the star of Mole Monday in our house!
1 chicken breast
11 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 dried chipotles, stems & seeds removed
2 dried red chili peppers, stems & seeds removed
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 tbsp sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
1 large white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp tumeric
1 tbsp butter
1 tsbp olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 cup chicken stock
In a food processor combine whole tomatoes, chipotles, red chiles, onion, and garlic. Blend until smooth. Heat a pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add diced tomatoes and green chiles and the mixture from the food processor.
Stir in sugar, lemon juice, spices, butter, chicken stockand chocolate (broken into large pieces). Bring to high temperature and drop the temperature to a simmer.
Heat another pan over medium heat and spray with oil. Pat down chicken and sprinkle salt and pepper on each side. Cook 10-15 minutes or until done. Set aside and let cool.
When the chicken is cool use your fingers to shred it. Just pull it apart in strips along the grain. Add to the mole sauce.
Cook the sauce at least an hour but up to 4 or 5. You want the sauce to reduce so that it is thick and chunky. Serve over quinoa or rice.