For sure, who hasn’t heard of mole (moh-lay). The mystical Mexican chocolate sauce which is made from up to 30 ingredients and takes 24-hours to develop its flavours has been venerated in movies (Chocolat), and travel books.
When Ben Barton of the Kiwizine and Auckland Pop-Up Dining planned a mole evening, I was eager to be a part of it. I would have also loved to have taken part in the making of the mole, but at the end of a long workday, it’s a case of the spirit is willing, but the body is weak. The recipe Ben and team (Tessa and Erin) used was Rick Bayless’, a multi-stage, incredibly involved recipe.
Mole negro is made from chillies (mulatto, pasilla, guajillo and chipotle), spices (cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, thyme), nuts and seeds (peanuts, almonds, pecan, sesame seeds), aromatics (onions, garlic), vegetables (green tomatoes, tomatillo) and carbs (stale bread, tortilla and banana). These are roasted, cooked, pureed, concentrated with oil and chicken broth. The secret ingredient is of course, Mexican chocolate. See Kiwizine for the recipe, if you would like to try this at home (I have the utmost respect for anyone who is insane and patient enough to make this!)
We started the evening with aqua fresca, – refreshing melon or pineapple ‘fresh waters’.
The entree was a twist on Caesar salad, Ben’s version had parmesan molded into a shell, cos salad topped with white anchovy fillets, jamon and roasted red pepper. This was my introduction to white anchovies and they are lighter in flavour compared to the more common tan ones.
The pièce de résistance was chicken thighs cooked in the mole, then the reduced sauce poured over the cooked meat. The flavour was oh so mellow, but a very complex mix of spices, with just a little heat. This was served with a very fresh apple, red cabbage and coriander salad dressed in a avocado emulsion.
The evening closed with palettas, Mexican ice blocks flavoured with hibiscus flower or tamarind. The hibiscus flower and the tamarind needed more syrup to balance out the astringent and sour flavours.
Ben also served some mezcal, these 73-proof agave spirits are not for the faint hearted. They tasted like industrial solvent.
Ben gave us a pottle of mole to take home, enough for a dinner party for 6. It was a wonderfully delicious, fun evening. If you would like to take part in future Pop-Up dining events, check out www.popdining.com, or www.meetup.com/Pop-up-dining-Auckland.