I never gave that much thought to mole until this week when I heard a little NPR segment. The story goes that a bishop was planning to visit some nuns at a convent in central Mexico back in the 19th century. They had nothing to feed him (a crisis for Catholics), so they got creative with what was on hand — peppers, cocoa, almonds —
— ground up a sauce, killed an old turkey (totally unnecessary), and served the sauce over the turkey. Lo and behold, the bishop loved it.
My kind of gals and my kind of sauce.
Turns out there are lots of stories for the origin of mole sauce, and there are untold variations on the sauce itself. The story of the inventive nuns is the one that I’m sticking to.
The concept of mole chili is several tweaks away the authentic mole, but that’s what I got a hankering to run with and a few minutes of poking around on the internet resulted in immediate pay dirt: a Mole Chili recipe that took the top prize in a Whole Foods Vegetarian Chili Cook-off.
I played around with it a bit — cocoa powder instead of chocolate chips, ground almonds as a thickener, and a ton of spices. The result: a game-changing bowl of chili, along with an ever-appreciative group of hens who are never considered fair game for a last-minute meal.
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 4 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium eggplant
4 cloves minced garlic
1 medium yellow onion
1 jalapeño pepper finely minced
1 T ground cumin
1 tsp. teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 T dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup almonds, finely ground in a food processor or coffee grinder
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 T fresh lime juice
- Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet. Add corn and cook on medium-high for 1-2 minutes until slightly browned. Set aside.
- Heat 2 T olive oil in the same skillet. Add peeled and diced eggplant along with a few pinches of salt. Cover and cook on medium-high until soft and translucent, stirring frequently — about 10 minutes.
- In a large saucepan, heat remaining olive oil. Add minced garlic and followed by onions and jalapeno. Cook on medium high until onions are translucent. Add spices, including cocoa powder and almonds. Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Add black beans, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a low boil. Add corn and eggplant. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Before serving, top with sliced avocado and freshly squeezed lime juice.