My friend Mike is a retired dentist, who spent most of his working life in New England. Born and raised in California, this is likely why he and his wife beat feet for Oaxaca every winter. He is a wonderful observer, lover, and sharer of that vibrant corner of the world, and his super simple Choco-Chile blend is one of the favorite things he’s shared with me. For anything that you think would be great with a black molé on board, this is a fantastic option that can be made and deployed in no time – something you definitely cannot do with most dark molés.
The only thing I’ve changed from the recipe Mike sent me is specifying chocolate de mesa, Mexican table chocolate. This stuff is prepared in a manner much closer to the old indigenous ways than bar chocolate is – it’s often stone ground – you may find it labeled chocolate de metate or chocolate tradicional. The best stuff comes from small fincas (farms) around Oaxaca, Chiapas, and the Yucatán. Look for the darker varieties.
Since there are so few ingredients in this blend, the quality matters greatly – that doesn’t mean expensive, it means tasty and to your liking. Something as simple as changing the chile you use, or the chocolate, will yield a whole new profile – it’s pretty wondrous. Give it a try and you’ll be hooked as I am.
Makes about 1 cup (enough to sauce four entrées)
2 Ounces dried Pasilla or Ancho Chilies
1 clove Garlic
1 to 2 Ounces Mexican Table Chocolate, (or any least 70% cacao chocolate you like)
1 teaspoon Honey
Zest and juice of 1⁄2 Lime
1⁄2 teaspoon Salt
Stem and seed the chilies.
Place chiles in a small, non-reactive bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
Peel, end trim and mince garlic.
Finely chop chocolate.
Zest and juice the 1/2 lime.
Drain the chilies, reserving the soaking liquid.
In a food processor, purée all ingredients, adding a teaspoon or so of chile soaking liquid as needed to achieve a paste that blends smoothly.
Adjust lime and/or salt as desired.
Mike notes, ‘The sauce will keep for at least a week (possibly forever; I’ve never tested its longevity) and its flavor will actually improve after a day or so.’
You can enjoy the sauce a bunch of ways – I have three favorites.
One is to sauté whatever protein or veggies you’re wanting, then deglaze the pan with good, homemade chicken, or veggie stock, scraping the fond from the pan bottom. Add choco-chile, whisk to thoroughly incorporate, then add back the protein or veggies and heat everything through before serving.
Second is to thin choco-chile with straight stock and use it as enchilada sauce.
But the best, hands down, is Mike’s fantastic Poor Man’s Molé.
Mike’s Poor Man’s Molé
4 Cups shredded or cubed Meat (chicken, Turkey, or Pork), or veggies.
1 medium Yellow Onion
1 14 ounce can diced Tomato
1 Cup toasted Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
1 Cup Choco-Chile sauce
1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil
1/2 to 1 Cup Stock (Chicken, Veggie)
Salt to taste
In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and heat until shimmering.
Add onion and cook, stirring steadily, until softened, about 4 minutes, then remove from heat.
In a blender or food processor, add tomatoes, pepitas, choco-chile, and onions. Process until fairly smooth as you like and a little texture is fine. Thin with stock as needed to make this happen.
Return skillet to heat over medium low and add the sauce.
Cook sauce until it begins to simmer, about 5 minutes, whisking constantly to keep the sauce from sticking.
Add meat or veggies and stir to thoroughly coat and incorporate.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more until everything is heated through. Sauce thickens as it cooks, so add stock as needed to end up at a consistency you like.
Taste and add sale as needed.
Serve hot with cilantro and fresh tortillas.