May 29, 2018
Getting to Know Mole
from Chef Logan McCoy
It’s no secret that regionally specific Mexican flavors are becoming standalone, staple offerings across menus throughout the United States. The versatility of ingredients, simplicity in preparation, and flavor complexity affords operators and their guests the opportunity to explore another culture through Mexico’s historic cuisine. And while it’s evidently popular to modernize classic menu pairings, it’s also appropriate to appreciate the simplicity from where dishes originated.
Mexican cuisine depends heavily on the building of flavors through sweating aromatics, deglazing with pungent acids (such as vinegar), and incorporating fresh condiments and sauces. One of the most recognizable and distinct sauce example would be Mole Sauce.
The derived word, Mole, means mixture or concoction. This velvety, deep-flavored sauce consists of many traditional ingredients: seeds, tomatillos, nuts, chiles, fresh herbs, dried spices, tomato paste, brown sugar, and bitter chocolate. Moles across Central and South America differ due to regionality, availability of ingredients, or by preferred taste.
Mole is a well-balanced sauce that offers layers of flavors through complementary ingredients: the chocolate balances the heat and spice from the chiles, cooking the herbs and spices in butter allow the aromas and flavors to bloom, and the tomato paste gives the sauce its body and a slight essence of umami.
Similarly, condiments are just as important as the rest of the components in a Mexican dish. Fresh salsas and toppings are the final touch of a dishes completion – they offer a fresh, flavorful accompaniment to corn tacos, bowls, floured tortilla burritos, and tortas.
Mole Sauce Applications:
• Pork enchilada with mole sauce, crumbled cotija cheese, fresh cilantro • Braised chicken leg with mole sauce over slow cooked black beans & rice • Grilled Seabass with mole, queso fresco, radish and cilantro
Condiment Applications: • Tacos al pastor served with salsa Mexicana, radish, and lime • Beef Barbacoa Torta served with guacamole, queso fresco and chipotle tomatillo salsa • Grilled Chicken Bowl served with greens, beans, rice, onions, cilantro and salsa verde