If you make mole from scratch, it takes hours, right? Or maybe days, considering all the ingredients you have to assemble, toast, grind, combine and simmer. Well, what about two years? That's how long it took Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of
La Casita Mexicana to perfect a bottled version of their popular mole poblano.
Now it's ready, and you can buy it online or at La Tiendita, the shop a couple of doors from the restaurant in Bell.
The two years were spent checking and revising samples sent by the company in Texas that is producing and bottling the mole. It's "99.9%" like the version you eat at La Casita Mexicana, says Arvizu. "We wanted the least possible preservatives in it."
Changes are still coming. New labels will correct the amount of chocolate called for in the instructions. If you buy the mole now, you should add ¼ of a tablet of Mexican chocolate instead of the ½ cup specified. However, you don't need to add any at all, because both chocolate and cacao beans are already in the paste, along with eight kinds of chiles, tomatoes, onions, garlic, plantains, pecans, almonds, sesame seeds, raisins, Mexican bread, tortillas, bay leaves, anise seeds, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, parsley and other seasonings. Would you really want to put that together yourself?
When diluted with broth, the 16-ounce jars make enough mole for six servings. Some chicken broth is in the mixture. The next step is a vegetarian version.
At La Casita Mexicana, the mole appears not just as a meat dish but in chilaquiles and enchiladas and over chips as an appetizer. "When people came in and had the mole, they wanted to take it home," says Arvizu. Now they can, no take-out cartons required.
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Read more from Barbara Hansen at www.eatmx.com, www.tableconversation.com, @foodandwinegal and Facebook.