The Great Plotnik

Saturday, June 08, 2013

White Beans in Mole Poblano

These are really good, but you have to live in Stiletto City or someplace else that has a great Mexican market. We bought recados (spice pastes) of green and black mole (mole Poblano), along with small white beans, at the Grand Central Market at the little stand just down the stairway from the Hill Street entrance, then stuck them in the freezer when we got home. They keep for years, if not longer.

La Palma on 24th Street has both moles, though in my opinion the ones from Grand Central are tastier, and that's for one simple reason: Stiletto City is closer to Puebla than Saint Plotniko.

For regular beans that come out a little closer to a Latino version of New Orleans Red Beans with Rice, we use the more subtle green mole recado. But for these, whose flavor is much more explosive (not all that hot, but hot enough), you need to use the Mole Poblano.

Start out with 1 1/4 cups of white beans. Put them in a large saucepan with 3 quarts of water and, if you like, a piece of beef rib, or pork shoulder, or chicken backs, or combination -- any meat with bones. How much? Cup your hands and fill it up -- like, maybe 1 1/2C total?

(You don't need the meat. This is a delicious meatless dish. But I always use it, if for no other reason than to use up all those unidentified boney things gathering frost on the bottom of the freezer.)

Bring to a boil. The white beans will rise to the top and sit inside a little scum from the boiling bones. You don't have to, but you can skim off the foam. (Some people say the scum causes bitterness later.). Add 1 large onion and 5 cloves of garlic, diced together. Then turn down to a simmer and cook 1 1/2 hours, until the beans and meat are tender.

2 options: I always add a sprig or two of fresh epazote to all Latino dishes using chiles and tomatoes. (We grow it in pots, but it's a weed -- anyone can grow it and it's also almost always available at the same place you bought the recados.) Epazote is a mint. Every culture has its particular mints, and the ones that grow where the cooks are cooking often define the flavor of a cuisine. Epazote and hierba santa for Mexican food, huacatay for Peruvian, spearmint for North African, and so on…)

But you don't have to use it. I may be the only one who notices.

Option 2: If you have a corn tortilla or two sitting around, shred it finely and toss it into the sauce. It thickens the sauce and also gives an authentic, and quite appealing, extra layer of taste.

Now. Remove the beans and meat from the stock, but strain and save the stock. Remove bones from meat. Shred meat and discard bones. Keep the beans and the shredded meat together in the colander. If you're a vegetarian, you can keep them in separate colanders. Ha ha. That was a joke.

(Seriously, you don't need the meat. The stock has plenty of oomph from the recado.)

Now heat 3T olive oil in the same pot. Add 1 large or two small cans of diced tomatoes. Stir around a few minutes and then this much recado (below). I'd say this is perhaps 1C.

Whisk until combined and then add 2C of the stock. Keep whisking until relatively smooth. Add back the beans and meat and simmer slowly for 30 minutes or so.

Taste. If the mole was too hot for you, add back more stock, up to 1 cup more, until it tastes right. Remember that as anything with hot chiles sits awhile (and hopefully these will, because they get better every passing day), the heat diminishes.

Serve over a bowl of rice, or as a side dish. French bread dipped in the sauce is addictive.


At 1:17 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

oh yummmmmmmmm

At 12:31 AM, Anonymous Cousin Seattle said...

I would LOVE to go to Grand Central Market with you next time you two are in LA, 1) because there is yummy food we could eat there/near there; 2) I need you to teach me how to use all of the chiles I'm afraid to buy; and 3) I miss you! :)


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