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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

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Readers Blog: Burp! Where Food Happens

Daring Cooks May: Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Homemade Red Mole

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Wow, how time flies! It's time again for the May edition of the Daring Cooks Challenge. Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce, was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh.

We thank Barbara and Anna for coming up with an exceedingly DELICIOUS challenge -- but also for allowing us the chance to stretch our culinary muscles a bit. They gave us lots of freedom with this one, and I'm pleased to say that we really took the opportunity to run with it. While we didn't make our own tortillas (which would have been great, if we'd had the time), and we didn't make the green chile sauce (since we've already had a lot of practice making our own roasted tomatillo sauce, that would have been akin to cheating), we did manage to come up with our very own recipe for mole -- an accomplishment, I dare say, that we wouldn't have tackled had it not been for the inspiration the challenge provided.

I'll admit that we approached this month's project with a bit of trepidation. It wasn't so much that we were frightened by the thought of making our own enchilada sauce. But, we were pretty sure that we wouldn't have the TIME. Usually we set aside an entire weekend to devote to our DC challenges. But, this month, we didn't have that luxury. We'd have to complete the challenge on a weeknight. After work. And I was planning to make homemade mole -- that Mexican sauce infamous for being... well, a bit time consuming.

But, we're not the sort of people who give up easily. No sirree. So, we decided we were gonna tackle this thing. Inspired by the approach taken by my good friend, Rebecca, over at Cakewalk, we decided to tackle the challenge in parts. We'd divide up the work over multiple evenings. We'd set aside all else to make the challenge happen. And we'd make a grand attempt at taking half-decent photos at 8:00pm. We'd persist, and that was all there was to it.

Well, we managed. And we're here to tell about it.
So, sit right down and we'll attempt to serve you up a little bit of mole...

It all started with our mise en place. I decided to improvise on the ingredient list -- putting everything I knew about mole together in one place. I collected my ancho chiles, tomatillos, a few cherry tomatoes (not pictured), garlic, sweet onion, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), raisins, and a bit of Ibarra Mexican chocolate. I also gathered together an arsenal of wonderful spices -- cracked anise seeds, cinnamon, ground cloves, black pepper, Mexican oregano, and smoky chipotle powder.

There were quite a few ingredients. But, that didn't stop us. We got right to business -- sauteeing and roasting. I decided to roast the tomatillos and cherry tomatoes to mellow out their acids and give them a slighly smoky flavor. They would then be pureed with sauteed onions, garlic, and spices, and seared in a hot pan full of oil to bring out the best in their flavors.

One of the stars in this mole sauce is the Mexican chocolate, Unlike other chocolates, Mexican chocolate is made from dark, bitter chocolate mixed with sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes nuts. The end result is a "grainy" and less smooth product than the chocolate to which we're accustomed in the States. But, if you ask me, it's just as delicious -- especially for mole.

We cooked the sauce for 30-40 minutes, until all the flavors were blended. At the end, we tasted for seasonings, and packed the sauce away for another day. The good thing about that is that it gave the flavors a chance to meld even more in the refrigerator.

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The next day, we got to work on the enchilada filling. We combined fresh soft goat cheese, sauteed onions & garlic, raisins, grilled corn, toasted pine nuts, and plenty of cilantro.

We used my favorite technique for prepping the sprouted corn tortillas for filling. We sprayed them with a bit of coconut oil and placed them in a hot oven for 4-5 minutes, just until they were pliable. And then we stacked them on top of one another and started filling the enchiladas.

We filled each tortilla with about a 1/4 cup of filling, rolled them in the traditional manner, and laid them in a baking dish side by side.

When all of the enchiladas were prepared, we spooned over a bit of the reheated mole sauce. After adding a bit of chihuahua cheese, everything was ready to go into the oven. After about 20 minutes, we were greeted by a pan filled with amazingly fragrant enchiladas.

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You may never have thought to fill an enchilada with goat cheese and corn, but you'd be surprised what a delicious filling it makes -- particularly when paired with the sweet and smoky flavor of the red mole. We owe this idea to Deborah Madison, who features a version of this dish in her book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The first time we tried her recipe, we accomplished it with the help of a bit of mole paste from our local Mexican grocer. But, this time around, the flavor was even more profound. The fresh mole -- while turning out quite similar to other moles we've tried -- was definitively more fresh, more vibrant. The chocolate flavor mingled with the smoky tang of the ancho chiles, and the spices muddled into a wonderfully sweet and spicy serenade of flavor -- the perfect foil for the tangy goat cheese.

Get this recipe and more on the Burp! blog at www.eatatburp.com

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