Wednesday, December 11, 2013
"Oh, hello!" (read with a British accent). This is what my little Hiro says every time we are playing cars on the traffic rug and his car approaches mine. I don't know why I'm thinking about this other than it is ridiculously cute and the holidays always get me thinking about last year's Christmas and how much my kids have grown. Last year Hiro was barely walking, let alone speaking in a British accent and Louisa still had a little baby fat left in her cheeks which by now is long gone.
Around the holidays I always make this real elaborate mole sauce that I discovered in Diana Kennedy's first cookbook, The Cuisines of Mexico. It is incredibly complex and rich with spice but takes hours to prepare (which is why I only make it once a year). If I ever am feeling ambitious I will post it one day to this here blog, but today is not that day.
I have yet felt festive enough to embark on such a project so I was thrilled when I came across this absolutely acceptable (I'm speaking for myself, not Diana Kennedy) and a much easier mole sauce from the lovely Pati Jinich.
The base for this deep, dark sauce is pureed pumpkin which fills in quite nicely as the sweet component for the more traditional chocolate. There is still plenty of heat from dried ancho chiles but it is subtle and nuanced. The toasted nuts and warm wintery spices round out the flavors which only improve the longer it sits so if you are with it enough to plan in advance, make the sauce on the weekend for a meal later in the week.
I won't throw in the towel on the Ms. Kennedy's spicy pork mole but I'm thrilled to have found an alternative I can make more than once a year.
Adapted slightly from Pati's Mexican Table
Makes 6 cups (about 6-8 servings)
1 small onion, quartered
6 garlic cloves
3 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
1/4 cup sliced almonds
5 whole cloves
1 canela or cinnamon stick
8 whole allspice berries
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée (about 1 3/4 cup)
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher or more to taste
3 tablespoons brown sugar, or more to taste
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted (optional)