I believe in the beauty of small things. Don’t gag – I’m completely serious. The little things that make me laugh or smile throughout the day. Gorgeous fall leaves littered across just barely frozen duck ponds. Little kids laughing at anything I wouldn’t pay much attention to, were it not for their attention to those details I fail to notice. Dog snuggles that come by the not-so-graceful shove of German Shepherd noses against my legs as I’m trying to wash the dishes, as if to suggest that I need the break from working in the kitchen for 5 minutes of snuggle time. Watching the raindrops collect against the living room windows, then opening them just wide enough to let those droplets dance into the house (shh, don’t tell my husband or kids – I urgently push for non-mess-making more often than necessary). Getting my cup of coffee then crawling back into bed with it so I can slow down the start of an otherwise over-busy day.
This sauce, it’s just sauce. That is a small thing when one really thinks about a meal… right? But if a person can garner happiness from a single condiment, perhaps that small thing is really not so little. If you’ve lingered around this blog for any amount of time, you know where huge fans of Mexican food. When my husband’s aunt was in town visiting this month, she mentioned that she had never eaten fish tacos before. Obviously the solution was for me to make them… When Taco Tuesday rolled around, I decided I wanted to experiment with a homemade sauce to go along with the tacos. As I approach many things, “winging it” seemed ideal. So I experimented.
When I say this is mole, we aren’t talking chemistry. Because chemistry is NOT a friend of mine (I learned this both in high school, then college when I had an overly enthusiastic desire to pursue a double major in psychology and biology – a half semester of chemistry being the turning point of that decision). We also aren’t talking about the weird club-footed animal I occasionally find in my garden that makes me yell obscenities. No, no. This mole (moh-lay) is a sauce based with chili peppers. You can use it as a salsa for your chips. You can top your taco off with as much of it as your little heart desires. You can eat it by the spoonful (although this is probably the least productive usage – just sayin’). You can use it to make chilaquiles. This sauce is a mouth party and you’re totally invited.
Ancho Chili and Pepita Mole Sauce
Yields about one extra-full pint.
4 – 5 large dried ancho chili peppers
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
10 ounces roma tomatoes (about 3 medium tomatoes)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
the juice from one small lime (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
4 to 8 tablespoons of reserved chili pepper water (read directions that follow)
Place the chili peppers in a small bowl. Pour enough boiling water over the peppers to fully submerge them (you can weigh them town with a glass if they want to rise. Allow the peppers to soak for 20-30 minutes, until fully soft.
Reserve the soaking water. Remove the stems from the softened peppers. For a milder sauce, you can remove the seeds and ribs from inside the peppers as well. (Ancho chilis actually are more smoky than hot in flavor, with or without the seeds.)
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Strain the sauce through a wire or mesh sieve. Add more of the reserved pepper water if you want a thinner sauce. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.
Tightly covered, the sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week.