My last and only memory of Chicago is a bit of a blur. Eighteen years ago, I flew up to interview for a position as a flight attendant with United Airlines. At that point I had already graduated from college and had landed my first “real” job. This job came complete with pantyhose, suit, computer, an incessantly ringing phone, all encased on three sides by a lovely gray cubicle. I was already yearning for something different. If I was going to be encased by walls, I would prefer that the walls were that of a jet, taking me to a foreign land. Besides, culinary school was just way to expensive.
I nailed the interview, got the job and then turned it down. For personal reasons, I just could not commit to moving to Chicago at that point in time. For me, Chicago evokes a memories of a huge turning point in my life. I have absolutely no regrets for not taking that job, but have often wondered what my life would have been like had I taken that position with the airline. Most certainly, I would not have been traveling to Chicago as a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), as I will be next week.
This will be my third year attending the IACP conference and it is always one of the highlights of my year. Technically it is work, but it feels more like fun. I kind of equate the whole experience to having a V.I.P backstage pass to your favorite bands concert. This year, one of the “rock stars” I will be meeting is Rick Bayless. He is a renowned chef, who specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine. Chef Nancy and I will be spending the day with Chef Bayless, and learning from his incomparable expertise.
In honor of my upcoming session with Chef Bayless, I have decided to share a delicious mole recipe that has been very popular with all of our Taste and Savor students and clients. Although there are many variations to this complex sauce, the recipe, I am sharing today is simple enough for any home cook while providing an enormous depth of flavor.
Taste and Savor Mole:
2 cups Prepared Salsa
1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Roasted Red Peppers, rough chopped
6 whole Sun Dried Tomatoes
4 TB Golden Raisins
4 TB Natural Almond Butter
1 Corn Tortilla, torn into pieces
1 Tsp Sea Salt, plus more to taste
1 Tsp ground Cumin
1/2 Tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 Tsp ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp ground Cloves
2 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (at least 70%)
3 TB Sesame Seeds, toasted
In a blender, puree the first twelve ingredients ( Salsa through Cloves).
Remove sauce from the blender and place in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the sauce is warmed through, add the chocolate and cook and stir until chocolate is melted. Simmer sauce for at least thirty minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
*This sauce is wonderful with chicken, shrimp or for a vegetarian option, try sautéed wild mushroom. Serve with rice and/or tortillas for sopping up all of the delicious mole