Halgrimson: Mexican sauce says ‘olé’There are just as many recipes for a certain dish as there are cooks who prepare the dishes described in them. And most of the time, the recipe is in the cook’s head.
By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM
There are just as many recipes for a certain dish as there are cooks who prepare the dishes described in them. And most of the time, the recipe is in the cook’s head.
That was the case with the best Mole sauce I’ve ever tasted. It was made by Cecilia Lugo, known as Ceci, who worked with the late Sylvia Hove when Sylvia was executive director of Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency.
When my partner, Sam, and I recently visited Ceci at her home in Moorhead she said, with tears in her eyes, “We were like sisters.” I understand the tears. Sylvia was like a second mother to me, and I miss her, too.
Ceci often prepared Mexican dishes for the Hove family and the traditional post-Thanksgiving meal was Turkey Mole. For those of you unfamiliar with the Mexican sauce that comes in many varieties, it’s pronounced like MOH-lay.
Sam speaks Spanish and so with his help, Ceci gave me a list of the ingredients that she used in her Mole sauce. I made the recipe the next day and supplied the amounts for her ingredients. Ceci said she served her Mole with rice to which she added onions, tomatoes and a pinch of cloves.
And my Mole sauce, with Ceci’s assistance, was pretty good, although I don’t think Ceci used a processor. The rice recipe is from my files.
Ceci’s Mole Sauce
3 ounces dried pasilla chilis
3 cups water or chicken stock
2 tablespoons lard
1 onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
1/2 cup grated bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon sugar
3 to 4 cups leftover turkey or chicken, cut in cubes
Soak chilis in water or stock for about 2 hours, weighting them down so they are covered by the liquid. When they are supple, remove stems and seeds, cut into pieces and return them to the chili liquid. Simmer, covered for about an hour.
Sauté onion and garlic in lard and until softened. Set aside.
Grind almonds in a processor or blender. Spoon chilis into the processor using a slotted spoon and add onions, chocolate, spices and sugar. Whiz to combine, adding chili water as necessary, to make a smooth sauce. Add turkey, reheat and serve with rice. Serves 4 to 5.
2 to 3 tablespoons lard
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups long-grain white rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes
Pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
In a large skillet brown rice in olive oil on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook onion rice mixture, stirring frequently, until onions are softened.
In a separate saucepan bring stock to a simmer. Add tomato sauce, cloves and salt. Add rice to broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Lower heat and cook 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Serves 4 to 5.
Sources: Ceceilia Lugo, Sam Bernstein
Readers can reach Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at firstname.lastname@example.org