Mole Caldillo Chilaquiles
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 55 minutes
- Serves 2 to 3
One of the first times I saw someone make mole from a jar, it was using the classic Doña María paste. It’s a commercially produced mole that can be found at most supermarkets, and it’s pretty common to save the jars for glassware. The first time I saw someone cooking with it was at my friend’s house. Her mom doctored up the black mole with sugar and peanut butter as I watched, doe-eyed. Mole paste is wonderful for this—a shortcut pantry staple that can be altered to the cook’s individual tastes. For this recipe, I use my favorite Oaxacan mole negro, and round out its flavors with brown sugar and peanut butter for chilaquiles that are rich. The fried tortillas get coated in a savory tomato sauce, caldillo, which offers depth and a savory backdrop. Serve with red rice and beans, or on a bed of fried pinto beans for the ultimate experience, and share the fruits of this laborious recipe with the people you love. —Andrea Aliseda
corn tortillas, fresh or stale
dried chile mulato (or another similar variety)
Neutral oil (such as vegetable or safflower), for cooking
large garlic cloves, peeled, divided
Sea salt, to taste
medium white onion, thinly sliced
(8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
black Oaxacan mole paste (I used Mulli by Coronado Spice & Tea)
vegetable bouillon paste or powder
dark brown sugar
creamy unsweetened peanut butter
medium shallots, julienned
freshly squeezed lime juice
unsweetened coconut yogurt (I used Cocojune)
Refried beans, warmed
small green cabbage, julienned
White sesame seeds
- Stack the tortillas and cut them into eighths, like you would a cake.
- Set up a sheet pan with paper towels to absorb the oil, or use a stainless-steel cooling rack.
- Cut off the top of the chile and shake out as many seeds as possible. Once you’ve removed all the loose seeds, use your hands to rip the chile so it lays flat. Run water on it as you clean and continue deseeding. Dry the chile.
- Set a 10- to 12-inch pan (preferably cast-iron) over high heat. Add enough oil to come about ½ inch up the side. Add 1 garlic clove and the chile mulato, then discard the garlic once it is seared on both sides—this flavors the oil. When the oil reaches 325°F to 350°F, adjust the heat to medium-high.
- Once the oil is at temperature, quickly add the tortilla triangles one by one, until you have a single layer. Cook until the tortillas start to blister and puff up, 1 to 2 minutes, then use tongs to flip. Cook until the other side is golden and blistered, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip again if the chips need more time. Use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer to the cooling rack or towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Transfer the oil to a heatproof container to discard later. Wipe out the pan. Add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and set over medium to medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and remaining 2 garlic cloves. Cook until translucent and a little golden, about 5 minutes. Mix in the tomato sauce and 1 cup of water, then lower the heat to medium. Add the cilantro. Salt to taste—you want to balance out the tomato’s sweetness. Once the sauce reaches a simmer, reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat.
- Set a medium pot over medium heat. Add the mole paste, followed by the bouillon and 1 cup of water. Bring the liquid to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the pastes as much as possible. Stir in more water to sight (up to 1 cup)—you want a creamy consistency that's a touch runny but not too thick. Lower the heat to medium, then stir in the sugar and peanut butter. Taste and add salt if necessary. Be patient and stay with your mole—it takes a moment to shape up. You can turn up the heat if it's not thickening; just make sure to not burn the mole, and remember it will thicken as it cools. Turn off the heat.
- To a medium skillet, add just enough oil to thinly coat the bottom and set over medium heat. Add the shallot, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix the lime juice into the coconut yogurt.
- Remove the cilantro from the caldillo. Turn on the heat to medium. Once the sauce is hot, toss in your fried tortillas. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to coat them evenly.
- Dividing between plates, pile the chilaquiles on top of the refried beans. Top each plate with a few splashes of mole (about ¼ cup), followed by the shallots, cabbage, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Serve the coconut crema alongside.
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