Have you ever tried mole—the Mexican sauce made up of a whole lot of different savoury spices—that often includes chocolate? I hadn’t until today!
It’s not something we generally see in Australia—I’ve never even seen it in a Mexican restaurant—but it’s fascinated me ever since I saw the Hairy Bikers make it a few years ago. How could chocolate work in a SAVOURY dish? I couldn’t even imagine it.
As a bit of a chocolate addict, I was willing to give it a try, so I was pretty excited when I noticed a recipe for Mole Skillet Pie with Greens in my new copy of Veganomicon. I can’t add the recipe here, because that would breach copyright, sorry, but it’s an easy book to get hold of.
Don’t try this if you’re in a hurry!
Even though it seems to be a quick and easy version of mole, it’s still not something you’d want to tackle after a day at work, or while someone else is busy in the kitchen too. It’s quite fiddly. You have to make the mole, then the pie filling and then the cornbread topping. About 32 ingredients in total!
Today (Sunday), with most of the family out for the day, I thought I’d better seize the moment.
Of course, I realised I was out of sesame seeds and didn’t have quite enough chocolate (it would have been too incredible if I’d had ALL those ingredients in the pantry), but after a quick trip to the shop I got myself together, switched on the latest episode of the Our Hen House podcast to keep me company, and settled in to grind and crush and sift and stir. It was quite relaxing really, and smelled incredible!
It was pretty funny to see each member of the family come home, get excited to see the dish of chocolate and then stare in stunned silence when I told them I was adding it to the pot for dinner.
Although they were very polite, they didn’t exactly rush to the table at dinner time. But to give them credit, they bravely dug in and finished it all, and the verdict was… it was fine (which I think is code for “It was OK, but please don’t make it again”).
Well that was THEIR verdict, but I thought it was pretty delicious, with all the hot sweet, salty, earthy, nutty tastes blended together. I couldn’t really put my finger on any particular taste, but I wondered whether it might be the satisfying umami taste that Ginny Messina mentioned on the Vegan For Her blog recently.
The mole was mixed with blackbeans, onions, garlic, carrots, rainbow chard and cavallo nero to make the pie filling. That was topped with a layer of cornbread.
It was really exciting to try something that tasted so different to anything I’ve eaten before, even though I’d eaten each of the ingredients many times. The combination was really interesting.
I’m not sure that I’d make it again. For that amount of prep time, I want shrieks of delight from the family. But I’m really glad I tried it, and I’m happy to have a stash of leftover mole to feast on this week.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz on culinary activism
Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the co-author of Veganomicon, speaks about culinary activism (i.e. cooking really good vegan food so people can see they won’t be missing anything by going vegan!). Here’s part 1.