How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Today's post will be a bit odd. Many entries in this space follow a by-now familiar pattern -- a recipe is described or summarized, and then we describe any deviations from the recipe before describing (or bragging about) the results. 

For this entry on mole, I will follow the pattern; what is odd is that the recipe from which I deviate is one I created myself as I was preparing the meal. The deviations are small, however, and as is often the case simply have to do with what ingredients were readily available.

The recipe calls for several of the ingredients from Equal Exchange, for two reasons. First, it is an excellent company committed to just treatment of farmers worldwide. Second, it was having a recipe contest.

Equal Exchange is best known for its coffee, and in fact its coffee director Rodney North is in large part responsible for the way in which coffee has taken over my life. It is now also importing fairly-traded chocolate and more recently tea, as well as some domestic products such as cranberries and raisins.

Because two of its most important products are coffee and chocolate, I decided that I should create some sort of coffee variant on mole. And because the unconventional use of a balsamic from Lebherz Oil and Vinegar Emporium had helped me to win a recipe contest before, I decided a L.O.V.E. potion would be on the agenda again. The recipe calls for some of Lebherz vinegars and is also modified from a mole recipe that we first included on this blog as Mole L.O.V.E. in 2012.

For further good luck -- and just because we enjoy their company -- we reassembled the winning team from that 2012 Bob Marley Coffee recipe contest to share this meal with us.

Before going on I should clarify that mole is a Mexican sauce more properly known as mole poblano, after the state of Puebla where it originated, and where Pam and I spent the summer of 1989. It is pronounced "MO-lay" and has nothing to do with those mouse-like critters. This blog now has several mole variations. 

Here's the newest one. It cites EE and L.O.V.E. ingredients, though substitutions can be made.

One red chili pepper or one small jar roasted red pepper
One cup dry, finely ground Equal Exchange coffee, preferably a Central American blend (NOT brewed)
¼ cup brown sugar
4 T chili powder, divided
1 T paprika
Zest of one orange, divided
1 t black pepper
1 t salt
Whole chicken in pieces or equivalent of chicken, bone-in preferred
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Chipotle-infused olive oil
One onion or two shallots
1 t cumin
1 t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
4-6 cloves
½ cup Equal Exchange raisins
½ cup slivered almonds
1 T Lebherz espresso-flavored balsamic vinegar
1 T Lebherz chocolate-flavored balsamic vinegar
1 Equal Exchange dark-chocolate candy bar, either strictly dark chocolate or with nuts
2 ounces espresso-infused tequila or Kahlua, optional
2 T sesame seeds, for garnish
Corn tortillas
Equal Exchange English Breakfast Tea (because it is smoky), Sangre de Toro, other Spanish red wine, Negra Modelo beer

If using a fresh chili pepper, place it directly over flame on a gas stove, and turn with tongs until well charred. Remove from flame and place in a small zip lock bag or plastic-covered bowl for 10 minutes. Then remove stem, outer skin and seeds, and cut into small pieces. If using jarred peppers, simple cut into pieces and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine dry coffee, sugar, 2 T chili powder 1 T orange zest, pepper, and salt
Roll each piece of chicken in the coffee mixture until coated.
Photo: Ashley Costa
Heat chipotle oil in skillet, cook garlic so that the oil absorbs its flavor
Heat brown chicken pieces in the oil, 3-4 minutes per side; work in rounds if necessary
Transfer chicken to baking dish
To the oil, garlic, and residual chicken fat, add onion or shallot and roasted peppers; cook until onions are translucent
Add spices, tomatoes, tomato sauce, raisins, and almonds. Simmer on medium-high, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes.
Continue simmering, uncovered, and preheat oven to 350 F
Pour in the vinegars and optional liqueur
Place entire candy bar in the center of the skillet. Feel free to take a photograph at this point!
After one minute, or when the candy bar has melted sufficiently, stir to blend vinegars and chocolate into the rest of the sauce.
Pour sauce mixture over chicken and bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes or until done and tender.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and allow to cool for ten minutes.
While chicken is cooling, warm tortillas in a dry, cast-iron skillet on high heat for a few seconds each. Place in tortilla warmer or cover with a towel.

Serve with a favorite beverage. Use tortillas to enjoy all of the sauce!

Normally I would roast a red pepper on the stove top, as shown in my Busy Kitchen post. In our Whaling House, however, we have an electric stove, so I used red peppers from a jar.
The coffee rub shown is not quite the one described. It was a rub we had on hand, and we did not have Equal Exchange coffee on hand (even though we live near the headquarters, we can only get the coffee online. So rather than use another brand of coffee, I used the rub. The description above approximates the ingredients on the rub.
We faced a similar predicament with the chocolate. EE was once sold in our local grocery store, and I discovered too late that it no longer is. So I got another brand (the name escapes me) of organic chocolate. It includes some pasilla pepper and cinnamon. Assuming such chocolates are hard to find, I recommend cayenne and cinnamon be added to the sauce.

We did -- thanks to friend and photographer Ashley -- have both of the recommended wine with this. The Toro is definitely the best pairing.
The overall outcome was a sauce that was a bit chunky for mole, but highly delicious. 
Verrdict: Eight Thumbs Up!

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