Smoked Porter Mole over Grilled Seitan & Rice

This recipe involves roughly 2 million steps, which is why it has taken me so long to write it up. Making mole is, however, known to be a long, arduous process, so if you ever give it a shot – this recipe or another – plan ahead! Read through this entire recipe. Think about how you might be able to spread this out over a few days and how you can multitask when preparing the mole.

Before getting into the recipe, there are a few things you will need.

First the beer. I used homebrewed smoked porter for this recipe. A simple substitution would be a commercially brewed smoked porter, such as Stone Smoked Porter or, if you’re lucky enough to have it near you, Alaskan Smoked Porter or Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter. I used an extract batch I did, similar to my last effort. In place of the base malt, I used two 3.15lb cans of light liquid malt extract, upped the chocolate malt (1 lb chocolate wheat malt and .75 chocolate barley malt) changed up the hops (nugget for bittering and German traditional for flavor) and added 1/2lb. maltodextrin to get the residual sweetness I would have gotten from a higher mash temp.

The seitan: Make a batch of chickeny seitan sausage, and cut each “sausage” into about 1/4″ slices. Marinate these slices overnight in the awesome Veggie Works Mexican Sauce recipe that follows, then grill them up on a grill topper.

With permission from Mark Rasmussen, author of the Vegggie Works cookbook and chef at the now-closed Veggie Works restaurant in Belmar, NJ , here is the Mexican Sauce recipe:

1 c vegetable broth
1 T onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 T chili powder
1/2 t cumin
2 T veg oil

Mix together in a saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes. If you are using this as a sauce, thicken by adding a cornstarch slurry (1 T cornstarch in 1/4 c of water) and simmer for a few more minutes. I skip the thickening part for marinade. Like every Veggie Works recipe, this is very easy to make and super delicious. I highly recommend the cookbook and check out Mark’s new company, VeggieBrothers

Now onto the mole. It’s largely based off of a veganized recipe I got from a Rick Bayless cookbook, which can be found here. I halved the original recipe and made several modifications, based on what I had on hand. I also wanted to use Organic Peruvian Aji Amarillos, which have a very interesting spicy raspberry flavor. I thought these would complement the chocolate in the mole very well.

From the long list of ingredients below, you will essentially be making four sauces, which are blended together and boiled into a paste.

5 dried organic aji amarillo
1 dried organic aji limo rojo (sub with habanero)
2 large poblano peppers
2 canned chipotle peppers
1/2 torn corn tortilla
2 unpeeled garlic cloves
1 c vegetable oil
1/4 c walnuts
1/4 c almonds
1/8 c black sesame seeds
1/8 c chia seeds (or sub with more sesame seeds)
1 14 oz can tomatoes rinsed (or 1/2 lb fresh green tomatoes)
2-3 chopped medium tomatillos
1 slice dark toasted bread (I actually used the equivalent in onion & garlic flavored organic croutons)
1/8 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 t cinnamon
1 /2 t oregano
1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 ripe banana
3 c vegetable broth
1 1/2 c smoked porter
1/2 c chopped Mexican chocolate (I used chocolate brought back from a trip to Costa Rica)
1 T salt
1-2 T agave nectar or sugar (optional)
Cooked rice (may want to get this started in a rice cooker before starting on the mole)

1. Pull and discard stems from dried chiles and poblanos, separate the seeds from the chiles. Wearing gloves recommended.

2. Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame, turning often, until the skins have blackened on all side, about 5 minutes (you can also roast on a baking sheet 4 inches below a broiler for about 10 minutes). Place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and, when cool enough to handle, rub off the blackened skin. Set aside.

3. In an ungreased skillet, add the torn tortilla to the amarillo, limo rojo and poblano pepper seeds and burn to a charcoal black, about 15 minutes on medium heat. According to Bayless, this is a crucial step that has a significant impact on your mole’s flavor.  Rinse the seed/tortilla mix in a fine mesh strainer for 30 seconds, then transfer to a blender. When ready, the mix smells like spicy coffee. Very interesting.

4. Lay the onion and garlic on a piece of aluminum foil in an ungreased skillet, roast until soft and dark (around 15 minutes) then peel the garlic.

5. Return the skillet to medium heat, add 1 cup of oil, then fry the chiles until toasted (crisp but not burnt). Be sure to turn your vent on, open any windows, etc. This makes a dangerous puff of spicy smoke.

6. Drain the chiles, them rehydrate them in a large bowl for 30 minutes. Reserve the liquid and the oil, which you will use later.

7. Spread the sesame seeds, chia seeds and nuts onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until dark brown (about 20 minutes). You may want to do the seeds on a separate sheet, as they will roast faster and may need to come out of the oven sooner.

8. Add the nuts and seeds to the blender with the chile seeds and 3/4 cup of broth, puree, then transfer to a bowl. Sauce 1 out of the way.

9. Without rinsing the blender, add the tomatoes and tomatillos plus 1/4 c broth and puree, then transfer to a bowl. Sauce 2, done.

10. Without rinsing the blender, add the onion, garlic, bread (or croutons), spices, banana, and 1/2 cup of broth, puree, then transfer to a bowl. Sauce 3, done.

11. Without rinsing the blender, add the amarillo, limo rojo, poblano and chipotle chiles with 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid, puree, then transfer to a bowl.

12. In a large pot, heat 2 T of reserved frying oil in medium high heat. Add tomato puree and stir/scrape until reduced and dark.

13. Add the nut puree and stir/scrape until reduced and dark.

14. Add the banana puree and stir/scrape until dark.

15. Add the chile puree and reduce over medium low heat until thick and black, about 20 minutes.

16. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of broth and add the chocolate. Partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

17. Stir in smoked porter and simmer for another 15 minutes.

18. Season with salt and sugar, then puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a standard blender.

Place the seitan on a bed or rice and pour a generous helping of mole sauce over this. Finally, enjoy this work-intensive meal with a side salad (lettuce, tomatoes, tomatillos, avacado, etc) and a glass of smoked porter. The flavors are incredible – nutty, spicy, coffee, chocolate, smokey, hints of pumpkin pie… I was surprised not to get much of the raspberry flavor from the amarillo chiles, but with so much going on it’s difficult to make any one flavor come out.  Overall, it’s an experience worth the effort!