Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots with Almond Mole
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You may have had the pleasure of eating chocolatey chicken mole before. But did you know there are limitless types of this sauce and marinade? First on our to-devour list is the roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots with almond mole from Michael Gardiner’s new book, Cali-Baja Cuisine: Tijuana Tacos, Ensenada Aguachiles, San Diego Cali Burritos + More.
“North of the border, we tend to think of mole as a sauce for poultry, and not without reason,” writes Gardiner. “But that is only one dish, and mole poblano is just one of hundreds of moles. Mole almendrado would certainly work well with poultry but perhaps pairs even more successfully with roasted vegetables.”
To make this dish as Baja-style as possible, grill or smoke the vegetables. (A grill pan is fine if the weather is too cold to cook outdoors.) This will result in an intense charred flavor that will make the produce an even tastier pairing for the sweet, nutty mole.
Recipes excerpted from Cali-Baja Cuisine: Tijuana Tacos, Ensenada Aguachiles, San Diego Cali Burritos + More, by Michael Gardiner. Rizzoli, 2023. Reprinted with permission. Photography by Cintia Soto.
For the Almond Mole
5 dried ancho chiles
5 dried pasilla chiles
½ cup lard, divided
5 dried chipotle chiles
1½ cups almonds
1 cup walnuts
½ cup sesame seeds
½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts
5 tablespoons raisins
1 corn tortilla
½ bolillo (Mexican roll) or ¼ small baguette
½ unripe plantain, sliced
2 medium plum tomatoes, cored
½ medium white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 whole cloves
½ teaspoon anise
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
5 whole black peppercorns
8 cups chicken stock, divided
One 3.2-ounce piece Mexican chocolate
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
For the Roasted Carrots
12 medium carrots
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
For the Roasted Brussels Sprouts
12 Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup almond mole
½ cup chicken stock
1. Make the Almond Mole: Remove the seeds and veins of the ancho and pasilla chiles. In a large sauté pan, melt ¼ cup of the lard over medium heat. Add the ancho, pasilla and chipotle chiles and fry until they take on a darker color, about 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to a high-speed blender or food processor.
2. Add the almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, peanuts and raisins to the sauté pan and cook until they take on some color, about 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to the blender. Add the tortilla and bolillo to the sauté pan and cook until they take on color, about 40 seconds. Transfer them to the blender.
3. Melt the remaining ¼ cup lard in the sauté pan over medium heat and add the plantain, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cloves, anise, cumin, coriander and peppercorns and cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft. Transfer the contents of the pan to the blender and add 3 cups of chicken stock. Blend on high speed to fully combine the ingredients.
4. Combine the chocolate tablet, remaining 5 cups chicken stock and salt in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring regularly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring regularly, until the chocolate has fully melted and the mixture is incorporated, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the contents of the blender to the Dutch oven and raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring periodically, until the mole thickens and acquires a more intense color, 20 to 30 minutes. Use immediately or cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
6. Make the Roasted Vegetables: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
7. Remove all but the last ¼ inch of the stems of the carrots. Toss the carrots in the olive oil and season with the cumin and salt. Place the carrots on the prepared baking sheet.
8. Trim off the brown part of the base of the Brussels sprouts and remove any yellowed outer leaves. Slice the Brussels sprouts in half from the center of the top down through the base. Place the Brussels sprout halves in a bowl, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place them on the baking sheet with the carrots.
9. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast until the Brussels sprouts are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, 35 to 40 minutes. The carrots are done when you can pierce them with a knife and the blade slides easily into the middle. Check the vegetables for seasoning and adjust to your liking.
10. Prepare to Serve: While the vegetables are roasting, put the almond mole and stock in a small saucepan, break up the paste with a wooden spoon and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until it reaches a thick, sauce-like consistency, about 20 minutes.
11. Arrange the vegetables on a plate and drizzle with the mole.