Sunday, July 10, 2011

She Blinded Me With Science

Mole is the calculus of cooking. And I sir am no Isaac Newton so I leave that sauce to the professionals. But one late night Rick Bayless episode and I'm thinking at least I can attempt a decent version albeit semi-homemade. A pack of turkey wings and legs-for-days were the inspiration for this weeks project.

Since I'd been braising all these chicken thighs, why not turkey? Seemed better than any other method. Turkey parts browned then braised in beer, cumin seed, garlic, onions and stock.

After about 3 hours, the meat was calling me to just eat it as is. So moist and fall off the bone. But I had to experience the mole. I refrigerated the meat overnight and then used the braising liquid with the mole paste the next day to make the sauce. Good idea monkey! I think that may have put this over the top.

Mole is made with a gazillion spices and peppers. You'd have to be a mad scientist to try to make this from scratch, although there are good condensed recipes on the web now. I have to wonder though if they could be half as rich. The thing is Dona Maria has a great jarred paste. And Rick says the pastes are used in Mexico regularly. You go to the market and they scoop it up out of these huge mounds. But the bigger mystery is how the hell did my mom make this from scratch? Okay, again, Midwest, the 60's and 70's. There wasn't real dried peppers to buy, certainly not 6 varieties..and certainly not at the Kroger's on South Anthony where we got our groceries. The only international items were Chef Boy R Dee and Chung King. She didn't have star anise or any exotic spices that I knew of. I know she did bring out that Mexican chocolate like it was gold. I always had to taste it because I wouldn't believe it wasn't sweet, like she told me about hundred times. But how did she do it? My moms mole was deep and rich in flavors. The color was intense. I liken it to listening to Aretha Franklin as a child. I knew it was damn good but I wasn't quite able to grasp it and it scared me a little.

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