Classic Red Mole
Yield: 6 servings
1. Getting started. To ensure success and to streamline this rather complex preparation, first set out all the ingredients, completing basic preparations as described. Husk and rinse the tomatillos, stem and seed the dried chiles, peel the garlic, grind the spices if you're using whole, toast the bread, chop the chocolate.
2. Spread the tomatillos on a baking sheet and roast them 4" below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip them over rand roast on the other side, 4 or 5 minutes, until splotchy-black, blistered and soft.
3. Set out two large bowls and scrape the tomatillos, juice and all, into one of them. Set out a pair of tongs and a slotted spoon.
4. Initial toasting and browning. In an un-greased small skillet set over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Scrape two-thirds of them in with the tomatillos; set the rest aside for garnish.
5. Set a large (8- to 9-quart) pot (preferably a Dutch oven or Mexican cazuela) over medium heat. Add the canola oil to the pot. Tear the chiles into flat pieces, and when the oil is hot, fry the chiles, three or four pieces at a time, flipping them nearly continually with the tongs, until their interior side has changed to a lighter color, about 20 to 30 seconds total frying time. Don't toast them so darkly that they begin to smoke- that would make the mole bitter. As they're done, remove them to the empty bowl, being careful to drain as much as possible back into the pot. Cover the toasted chiles with hot tap water and place a small plate on them to keep them submerged. Let stand for about 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, remove any stray chile seeds left in the fat. With the pot still over medium heat, fry the garlic and almonds, stirring regularly, until browned (the garlic should be soft, the almonds browned through), about 5 minutes. With the slotted spoon, remove to the tomatillo bowl, draining as much fat as possible back into the pt.
7. Now add the raisins to the hot pot. Stir with your slotted spoon for 20 to 30 seconds, until they've puffed and browned slightly. Scoop them out, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot, and add to the tomatillos.
8. Blending and straining. Use tongs to transfer the rehydrated chiles to a blender, leaving the soaking liquid behind. Taste the soaking liquid, and, if it is not bitter, measure 20 fluid ounces into the blender. If it is, throw it away and measure in 20 fluid ounces of water. Blend the chiles to a smooth purée, adding a little extra water if necessary to keep the mixture moving through the blades. Press the chile mixture through a medium-mesh strainer back into the empty chile-soaking bowl.
9. Without washing the blender jar, scrape the tomatillo mixture into it. Add 8 fluid ounces of water along with the cinnamon, pepper, optional anise, cloves, bread and chocolate. Blend to a smooth puree, adding a little extra water if necessary to keep the mixture moving. Press through the strainer back into the tomatillo bowl.
10. Searing and simmering. Check the fat in the pot; if there's more than a light coating over the bottom, our off the excess; if the pot's pretty dry, film the bottom with a little more lard or oil. Set over medium-high heat. When quite hot, scrape in the chile puree and stir nearly constantly until the mixture has darkened considerably and thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatillo purée and continue stirring until once again the mixture has thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, another 5 to 10 minutes.
11. Add 1½ quarts of water to the pot and stir to combine thoroughly. Partially cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Check the consistency. The mole should be thick enough to coat a spoon, but not too thickly. If it's too thin, simmer it briskly over medium to medium-high heat until a little thicker; if too thick, stir in a little water.
12. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1¾ teaspoons, and the sugar. If you're new to seasoning mole, keep in mind that it's a delicate balance of salty, sweet and spicy; it's best to start with the minimum quantities I've suggested, then refine the seasoning just before serving.
Argentinian Chimichurri for Asado
Makes about 1-1/4 cups
Directions 1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well to blend. Allow the mixture to marinate for minimum of 1 hour before serving.
Paella Mixta (Mixed Paella)
Makes 6-8 servings
1. Put saffron and ¼ cup hot water in a small bowl; let sit for 15 minutes. Heat oil in a 16"?18" paella pan or large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken, shrimp, and chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate, leaving meats in pan. Add paprika, garlic, bay leaves, tomatoes, and onions to pan and cook, stirring often, until onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add reserved saffron mixture and broth, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Sprinkle in rice and mix briefly. Cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 10?12 minutes. Add peas and peppers. Reduce heat to low, add reserved shrimp, and nestle in mussels hinge side down; cook, without stirring, until mussels have opened and rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, 5?10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Pescado En Escabeche (Fish with Escabeche)
1. Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Place flour in a shallow plate, and dredge each fish steak in flour to coat, shaking to remove excess.
2. Heat oil in a 12? skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish steaks, and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Place fish steaks on a platter and set aside. Lower the heat and add the minced garlic to the oil, and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add bay leaves, peppers, and onion, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add vinegar, and bring to a boil; cook for 2 minutes. Pour over fish steaks and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.