Mole Poblano Goes Vegan

Moles maybe be an acquired taste, but once it is acquired, it is something you’ll crave. I’m enjoying trying Mexican dishes made vegan by chef Jason Wyrick in his new cookbook Vegan Mexico. My own feeling is that vegan never will taste like foods that are not totally plant based.  They are good on their own and should be appreciated for that, not compared to non-vegan or non-vegetarian recipes with similar names.  Accept and enjoy the differences.  In this case, sweet potato and black beans will never taste like mole on chicken or pork enchiladas, but you’ll be surprised at how good they are together in many vegan dishes. I’ll be playing with more recipes from this cookbook and sharing recipes with my vegetarian- can’t give up her dairy and eggs for a vegan lifestyle- daughter and our v-word friends!

Vegan Mole Poblano and a couple of vegan tamales from the freezer section at the grocery. I love the mole; I like the tamales, and next time I’ll put more red sauce on the tamales!

After all the typing this post took, you owe it to me to give this mole a try, even if you use just the short cuts, as I do!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Mole Enchiladas
From Vegan Mexico by Jason Wyrick
Jim’s notes are in italics.
1 medium white sweet potato (if white is not available, an orange sweet potato can be substituted)
¾ cup[ Oaxacan-style black beans (recipe and my simplified version follow)
1 cup mole poblano (homemade recipe follows, but you may substitute Doña Maria Concentrated Mole Poblano and follow the recipe on the jar. If you are cooking for one or two, look for the Doña Maria Mole ready to serve 9.5 oz box. It is a new discovery for me and will encourage me to make more mole at home.)
¾ cup water
1/4 tsp salt

Rich depth mole flavor and quick and easy ready-to serve for small batch cooling! Best discovery of my week!

12 6-inch corn tortillas
Corn oil for frying
3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
¼ cut chopped salted roasted peanuts
Preheat oven to 450°F. Wrap the sweet potato in foil and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool, remove foil, peel sweet potato and chop into 1-inch chunks. Toss sweet potato chunks with Oaxacan-style black beans and set aside. Or, wash and dry the sweet potato, pierce skin all over with a fork, place on a paper towel in your microwave and zap it for 12-15 minutes. Test with a fork. When tender and cool enough to handle, split potato in half. Score flesh vertically and horizontally at one-inch intervals , but don’t cut through the skin into the palm of your hand! Use a table spoon to scoop potato cubes out of skin. How easy, cooler in your kitchen and faster is that?
Combine mole poblano, water and salt in a medium skillet. Warm to medium heat.
Add ¼ inch of oil to a deep skillet and heat to just above medium. Fry tortillas in oil for about 3 seconds each, then dip on mole poblano sauce for bout 10 seconds.  Transfer each tortilla to a “work” plate and add about 2 Tbsp filling. Roll tortilla and transfer to a serving plate or platter. Repeat with all the tortillas and pour remaining sauce over them.
Drop the sage into the hot oil and fry for about 45 seconds, remove from oil and sprinkle the sage and on the enchiladas. I like to fry individual sage leaves as a garning for several different dishes. They are delicate to handle, but I find it more attractive and easier to managed that sprinkling fried sage bits.
I find Wyric’s Oaxacan-style black beans to be a fascinating recipe. Because I usually cook for one or two, I reduce recipes regularly so I don’t have too many leftovers stacking up in the fridge. I would like to make his recipe one day and compare it with my shortened version. Both are here for your reference.

Oaxacan-Style Black Beans
1 lb dried black beans, picked over, rinsed and drained
6 cups water
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
2 whole ancho, mulato or pasilla chiles
1 dried chipotle meco chile or 1 chipotle in adobo
1 Tbsp cumin seeds or 2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick or ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 avocado leaves or ¼ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp salt.
Preheat oven to 275°F. Combine beans, water, onion, chiles, cumin, pepper, cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon, avocado leaves or fennel seeds in a 10-X10-inch baking dish. Mix well, cover tightly with foil and bake for 8 – 10 hours until beans are tender.  Serve as is or mash the beans before serving.

Oaxacan-ish-style Black Beans
I guestimated that Wyrick’s recipe would yield about six cups of beans. I used one can of rinsed black beans, figuring that to be about 1/3 of the volume of the original recipe.
I tried to use 1/3 of the rest of the ingredients in the recipe. I substituted a heaping teaspoon of ancho powder and about 1/3 chile in adobo for the chiles. I approximated the measure of the other ingredients using a tsp as a tool for eyeballing the amounts.  I did use the whole 1/t tsp fennel seed because I love fennel. I crushed the seen in a mortar before adding them to the recipe.
I heated the bean mixture through while I did the rest of the prep then followed the enchilada cooking and assembly instructions. I was pleased with the flavor of the abbreviated Oaxacah-ish beans enough to think about making the scratch recipe someday.
I said I’d include the homemade Mole Poblano recipe. I think typing it is about as much work as making it from scratch!
Mole Poblano
2 tsp chile seeds (ancho, guajillo or mulato)
¼ tsp coriander seeds
4 cloves or 1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 black pepper corns or 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp anise seed or a pinch of ground anise
1 (½-inch) Mexican cinnamon stick or 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
½ cup corn oil, divided
½ cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup raw pepitas
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 5-inch corn tortilla
2 (1/2) inch thick French baguette slices
1 small ripe plantain, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 ancho chiles, stemmed
4 pasilla or additional ancho chiles, stemmed
4 mulato chiles, stemmed
Boling water, as needed
2 Roma tomatoes, pan-roasted
3 cloves garlic, pan-roasted
1 (1-ounce) wedge Mexican chocolate
1 (1-ounce) piece piloncillo or 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
Salt to taste
In an iron or other heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, toast the following individually, stirring slowly, then remove from the heat, grind into a powder and add to a blender:
the chili seed until blackened, about 2 minutes;
the coriander seeds for 1 minute;
the cloves for 1 minute;
the peppercorns for 30 seconds;
the anise seeds for 30 seconds;
the Mexican cinnamon stick for 1 minute’
the sesame seeds for 1 minute
Add ¼ cup of the corn oil to the skillet. Working one at a time, fry the following individually. Transfer each to the blender as it is finished.
the almonds until they are browned, about 2 minutes
the pepitas until they are browned, about 2-1/2 minutes
the raisins until they are plump, about 2 minutes
the tortilla until it is golden, about 1 minute
the French baguette slices until they are golden, about 2 minutes
the plantain until it is browned, about 3 minutes
and the onion until it is browned, about 5 minute
Add the remaining oil to the skillet and bring back to medium heat. Working in batches, fry the anchoes, pasillas or additional anchos and mulatos for 30 seconds, taking care not to burn them. Transfer the chiles to a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave the oil in the skillet, but turn the heat off.  Wait 20 – 30 minutes for the chile’s to rehydrate, then transfer the to the blender along with the tomatoes and garlic. Reserve the chile water.
Puree the spice mixture, slivered almond mixture and chile mixture adding enough of the reserved chile water as you blend to create a smooth sauce. Press through a fine-mesh strainer for the smoothest sauce. Bring the oil in the skillet to medium low heat. Add the sauce, Mexican chocolate, piloncillo or turbinado sugar and salt to the skillet.  Slowly simmer for at least 40 minutes until oil pools on top of the mole. As the mole thickens, add just enough water to keep it from sticking to the skillet.  If you have time, let the mole simmer for 1 to 2 hours. The longer the better.

According to Myrick, you can save time by using ground spices and not toasting them. You scan skip frying the almonds and pepitas by buying the pre-roasted and salted. You can add the chiles, onion, raisins and plantain to the blender without frying them, but the result won’t be as rich-tasting.
The greatest time saver is buying a jarred mole poblano sauce such as Doña Maria because it is vegan and commonly available in Mexica or larger supermarkets. Wyrick recommends adding ½ cup caramelized onion to the jarred sauce and puree it.

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