Sunday, April 30, 2006

Is My Blog Burning?

No, it's on fire with flavor! Flush with success from my first ever blogging event, I decided to participate in this month's Is My Blog Burning, hosted by Derrick Schneider at An Obsession with Food. The theme for this month is stale bread.

We were supposed to use good bread, but this is the best I'm going to use—it's the only bread I had in the house and I wasn't going to go buy some bread just so it can go stale; that kind of defeats the purpose, if you ask me. It's Natural Ovens whole grain so I thought it would add an interesting texture to my dish. I opened up the bag on Thursday to dry it out, though, and this morning it was still a little moist in the middle. I had to put it in the oven to dry it out and almost burned it.

So, what to make with my stale bread? I thought of all the usual things—bread pudding, some kind of stuffing, meatloaf/balls/etc., but I wanted to try something different. My goal is to learn something new, or to make something I've never made before.

I was talking to Jessica at the Knit Shop about it (I think they might be getting a little tired of hearing me talk about food all the time these days), and she said she thought Mole had bread in it. Hmm. I've never made mole before. So we searched out some recipes and found some that had everything from bread to flour to tortillas in them. There were all kinds of different ingredients in all of them, as well. Some of them were pretty daunting for my first attempt.

A new world food, mole is generally credited to the Aztecs, although they would most likely be horrified to find the use of chocolate in some versions. The recipe is said to have been refined by the nuns of the Order of Santa Rosa to impress visiting political and church officials in Mexico in the 17th century. There is (of course) a website devoted to mole, which is where I got this information. It has all kinds of resources, recipes, and information, and you can find it here.

I have only had mole a couple of times until now. I loved some, didn't much care for the rest. That's how different each version can be. For my first attempt, I decided to start light, with relatively few ingredients. That way I can identify what I like, then play with new ingredients as I go.

I'm pleased with the overall result. There's a little too much peanut butter, and probably a little too much sweet in the chocolate for some people, although I like that. I only used pasilla peppers because that's what I had on hand and I really like their dark smoky flavor. Next time I might add sesame seeds and almonds, and maybe another kind of chili. It's a little lighter, and chunkier, than I think it should be. Now that I know what to expect, I'll be able to fine tune it as I go.

I kind of bastardized a couple of recipes for this version. It's delicious, although it could use some refining. Let's see if I can reconstruct what I did:

Pork Chops with Pasilla Mole

4 Pork Chops, 1-1/2" thick
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 pasilla peppers (plus hot water to cover)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 head garlic, minced (yep, 1 head)
4 c. vegetable stock
3 Tbsp. bread crumbs
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
2-1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tablet Mexican chocolate (or app. 3 oz. semisweet and 3/4 tsp. cinnamon)
1/2 c. peanut butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder


Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Add peppers and let plump for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove to bowl, cover with hot water, and let sit for 30 minutes. Leave oil in skillet. After 30 minutes, remove stems (and seeds for less heat), break into pieces and chop in blender.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, for approximately 10 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder and bread crumbs and cook, continuing to stir frequently, for 3 more minutes.

Add vegetable stock and blended pasilla peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and chocolate.

Pork Chops:

In large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Season chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Brown in skillet; turn once. Spoon mole sauce over chops. Lower heat, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, or until done.

This is delicious with roasted vegetables.


misreall said...

Thanks for the mole-I can't wait to try it.
Fun today, the weird service added something to the experience.

dejamo said...

I hope you like it. It was fun. Maybe we can walk down to Greek Town next time.

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