Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I was going to write this post this last night, but I had a kitchen meltdown while making these suckers. Tears were involved. Gods were cursed. It was like that scene in Julie and Julia where Julie is laying on her kitchen floor having a breakdown next to a raw whole chicken, except minus the dead bird part.
This was my absolute favorite from the casserole class, and I'd been eagerly anticipating recreating these at home. I started with the mole sauce. You begin by toasting sesame seeds, peanuts, almonds and raisins in a frying pan. Oh man it smells SO GOOD. Also, the raisins plump up like little inflatable beach balls, which is cute. Meanwhile, you soak dried ancho chilies in some water until they soften. That was the easy part. The next step in the recipe tells you to add the nut mixture and chilies to your food processor with SEVEN CUPS of water, then puree. This was when the first disaster happened. I thought, "Wow, that definitely looks like way too much liquid for the food processor," but instead of using common sense I decided to tempt fate and turn the processor on, thinking if I just held the lid on REALLY TIGHT it would be ok, because I'm just following the directions, right? Wrong. The liquid sort of blurped out of the processor all over my counter, kind of like a lazy volcanic eruption. You'd think I'd learn my lesson after that, right?
Wrong. At this point, I pulled out my blender. I ladled as much of the liquid as I could from the food processor to the blender (were they using some kind of industrial sized processor in our class, or what?) and then blended that until smooth. Except that my blender only held about half of the total amount. So you know what I did then? I thought, "Well this is much less liquid, maybe I can just do the rest in the processor now." BLURP. All over the counter again. Another mess to frantically clean up. So I ladled yet another batch of the liquid into the blender, pureed, and then put this second batch into a large pot along with the first one. At this point I still had most of the solid bits (nuts & raisin mixture along with big pieces of chilies) in the processor with very little liquid, so I was able to puree this successfully, after which I added it to the pot with the rest of the mix and stirred it all together, brought it to a simmer, and whisked in some bittersweet chocolate. When this sauce gets simmering, it smells so good you'll want to dunk your head in it.
Compared to the mole sauce, the enchiladas were a breeze to make and assemble, except for the part when I opened my pantry door to grab something and an entire canister of powdered sugar fell off the shelf and spilled all over my kitchen floor. This was when full meltdown ensued. I had to grab Bella, my ever watchful kitchen helper, before she tried to do her best Tony Montana/Scarface impression and put her in the other room while I cleaned up yet another mess while simultaneously trying to keep the filling mixture (pinto beans, ground seitan, carrrots, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and spices) from burning on the stove. Whew.
After all this, I somehow managed to assemble the enchiladas without incident. You just spread some of the mole sauce on the bottom of a lasagna-type dish. Then you spread some mole onto a tortilla, add about 1/2 cup of the filling, and a sprinkle of vegan monterey jack cheese, then roll it up and put it in the baking dish. I ended up with six enchiladas, which I topped with more mole sauce and some more jack cheese. (Note: I used Vegan Gourmet Monterey Jack Cheese, and it didn't melt for shit. Argh. I will not be using this brand again.)
Was it worth the trouble? I'd have to say yes. These are SO GOOD. The flavors in these enchiladas are deep and complex. Or as my husband would say, they're "action-packed." They're nutty, smoky, and slightly spicy. The seitan makes them meaty without being too faux-meaty, and with the spices in the filling and the mole sauce, your taste buds will be doing a happy dance. Next time I'll likely make the mole sauce a day ahead. And keep a mop handy to clean up the mess.