Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Cook the Books: Easiest Ever Chicken Mole Enchiladas
Like water for chocolate is part love story, part fantasy and a whole lot of food. It is a tale of true love, family traditions and family secrets. Tita and Pedro are madly in love, but they are forbidden to marry because Tita is bound by family tradition, as the youngest child, to take care of her mother. Tita's mother is a force to be reckoned with and forbids Tita to marry Pedro. In an act of desperation, and also to remain close to Tita, Pedro asks for the hand of her oldest sister. Heartbroken, Tita stands by as the love of her life marries her sister.
Tita, who was born into the kitchen, puts all of her love and emotions into her food, preparing elaborate meals. Her food is magical, illicting powerful emotions to those who eat her meals.
A tragic love story with magical food, Like Water For Chocolate, was a great read.
Inspired to make a recipe containing chocolate, I had my heart set on making Mole. I found the perfect recipe while watching the new Food Network show, Mexican Made Easy with Marcela Valladolid. Her Easiest Ever Chicken Mole Enchiladas looked amazing and take only one hour. I was instantly sold on making this recipe.
Marcela's Mole is about as quick and simple as they come. The sauce begins with 5 dried ancho chiles which are reconstituted in hot water for 15 minutes. While the chiles are reconstituting, grill two corn tortillas until crisp and crumble into pieces. In a saute pan, saute one and a half onions (chopped) and 2 cloves of garlic (minced) until translucent. Transfer seeded chiles, crisp corn tortillas, onions, garlic, one tablespoon of sugar, 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter, 1-3/4 cups chicken broth, and one teaspoon oregano to a blender and blend until smooth. Add sauce back to saute pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in 5.5 ounces of Mexican chocolate (Ibarra preferred) and season with salt and pepper. (Here is a picture of the Ibarra Mexican chocolate. I was expecting it to be bittersweet, but you can actually see how crystallized it is with sugar. It has a cinnamony bite and is delicious all on it's own).
The enchiladas go together pretty easily. Two chicken breasts are coated in oil, salt and pepper and baked for approximately 20 minutes. When removed from the oven, shred the chicken with two forks.
Marcela suggests dipping the corn tortillas in hot oil to soften them and make them pliable. Once dipped in the oil, she dips them into the mole sauce, fills them with 1/3 cup shredded chicken and rolls them up. Extra mole is poured over the enchildas and they are topped with Queso Fresco and Mexican crema.
Disclaimer: I'm sure that this is probably the easiest mole ever, but it was still messy and quite time-consuming. I'm talking lots of pots and pans, blenders and so on. Saying that, as far as moles go, it was really easy, quick and a lot less ingredients than a traditional mole.
Notes/Results: I enjoyed making this recipe. I love the chance to cook with new ingredients and explore in the kitchen. The Mexican chocolate is literally delicious and I can see myself using it for many other recipes. The recipe was well-written and went together perfectly. The mole had a very complex flavor, a little spicy, a little sweet, a little nutty. The smell of the mole reminded me of my favorite authentic Mexican restaurant. The recipe was good, just not my personal favorite. I'm glad I had the chance to try it, but I still prefer my enchiladas with red sauce.
Queso Fresco is also my Cheese of the Month. I went to a special Mexican grocer in Lexington looking for Queso Fresco(fresh cheese) and I was very happy to find it. It has a crumbly texture and a mild flavor which paired nicely with these enchiladas. True Queso Fresco will become soft when warmed, but does not melt. It can be used as you would use any other mild crumbly cheese, but mostly is served as a topping or a garnish. Marcela suggests using Feta cheese in place of Queso Fresco. The two cheeses do have the same texture, but Feta is full of flavor whereas Queso Fresco is really mild. I'm anxious to use the Queso Fresco in a simple recipe where it can really shine as part of the meal.
This is my submission for this round of Cook the Books, hosted by Rachel of The Crispy Cook, Johanna of Food Junkie Not Junk Food, and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.