Beef mole. No, really!

It’s funny what you can end up cooking when you’re looking for inspiration.  What began as a search for a fun chocolate recipe ended as a mini voyage into one of my favourite cuisines; Mexican!

I was looking for some ideas for a recipe that made use of what I already had in the cupboard and I specifically wanted to use some dark chocolate that’s been looking at me for a few weeks now.  Before I knew it, I was reading about mole and beginning to feel inspired.  In Central America, a mole is a thick, often spicy sauce made with numerous ingredients that can include chillies and dark chocolate.  There seemed to be a handful of variations and each of them sounded delightful.  Being a nacho fiend, I was beginning to see a serious dipping opportunity.

Having made the decision to use only what I had in the cupboards and fridge, the mole I made included minced beef.  Mole is especially popular because of its complex flavours and satisfying kick.  I couldn’t wait to experiment with it.  What ensued was an attack on my cupboards as the ingredient list grew and grew.  As always, I’m conscious that the recipe I’m sharing with you today is not necessarily a traditional mole, but one that I came up with over the course of a very hot afternoon.  With that in mind, some of the ingredients may alarm you, but trust me when I say, the taste is not disappointing!  I managed to surprise myself and I hope this recipe surprises you too.

This is one recipe that I’ll be making for years to come and I suspect that I’ll be trying other moles using chicken, pork and all kinds of chilies.  The sauce itself is more like a chilli con carne in consistency and I’m not saying that it can compete with an authentic Oaxacan mole.  It is however, fun to make, delicious and open to all kinds of adaptions.  Get ready then, for something different, something that I wasn’t expecting.  Is it a chocolate recipe?  Well, not exactly, but I hope you love it as much as I do!

Beef mole

400g chopped tomatoes

250g minced beef

200g tinned kidney beans

2 onions (quartered)

2 Chipotles (soaked in water)

1 red pepper (roughly chopped)

4 garlic cloves

1 medium red chili (roughly chopped)

35g dark chocolate

1 tblspoon smoked paprika

2 tspoons coriander seeds

2 tspoons chili flakes

1 tspoon ground allspice powder

1 tspoon garlic salt

1 tspoon dried oregano

2 tspoons mint sauce

1 and a half tablespoons peanut butter

black pepper

1 tbslpoon sunflower oil

olive oil

sea salt

I began by browning the beef mince with plenty of black pepper in a little olive oil and then setting it aside.

Next, I gently toasted the coriander seeds in a dry pan until they began to release their flavour.  I added them to a container with every ingredient except for the beef, Chipotles, kidney beans, chocolate and sea salt.  Using a handblender, I made a puree and then heated it in a heavy based pot for about twenty minutes on a low heat.  During this time, I added the Chipotles and the water they’d been soaking in, the kidney beans and all of the beef.  I also grated the dark chocolate into the mole and stirred it occasionally so that the sauce didn’t stick.  I removed the Chipotles when the sauce was cooked.

Once the mole was thick, I tasted it and seasoned it with sea salt.  I wanted to use the mole as a dip, so I didn’t add too much salt- my tortillas are already salted.  This mole is not very spicy, but you could add more chilies if you want a real kick.  This has just enough fire to make it fun.  Let me know if you make it.  I’d love to hear what you think!

You ain’t from around here, are ya, boy?

In Texas, people have been shot for serving nachos incorrectly.  Okay, that’s not true.  Sorry.  Closer to the truth, is the fact that those in the know will not pile a plate high with tortilla chips and a mountain of melted cheese and call themselves a Texan.  A cursory glance around the world of online nacho appreciation will reveal that discerning nacho lovers prefer their chips to be dressed and served individually.

This came as something of a revelation to me.  Granted, I’m a Greek-born, British citizen, raised on a combination of shepherds pie and olives (though not together), so there’s no reason that I would have any expertise in the nacho department.  That sounded odd, but stick with me.  I have always been ignorant in my cheese-melting bliss and have spent hours chomping through plates full of cheese-coated tortilla chips.  To my credit, I always spread the chips in a thin layer so as to coat each one with cheese, but still, there wasn’t a great deal of care involved.

With enough pulled pork in my fridge to feed my extended family, I knew it was time to try something fun with it.  I’ve seen other bloggers dress their nachos with cheese and a jalapeno and I’ve seen some pulled pork with cheese and barbecue sauce too.  As usual, I stacked the nachos my way.

I chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) and sprinkled it onto each chip.  Next came the pulled pork followed by gorgeous Cheddar cheese and topped with a slice of jalapeno.  Straight into the oven until the cheese had melted and then straight into my belly!  They were very satisfying.  The sweet smokiness of the pork, the freshness of the coriander, the comfort of the cheese, and the crunch and spice of the jalapeno and the tortilla chip.  I have been converted.  It took a little bit of love and care, but it was so worth it.  Is it authentic?  I don’t know.  If you’re reading this and you’re from Texas, please don’t shoot me…