Meat, Poultry, Pork

Smoky Peanut Mole with Grilled Pork Loin | Print |
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

This is a dish I’ve come back to frequently over the years. It is the easiest mole I know, and its crowd-pleasing flavors work well with everything from chicken, quail and duck to pork, swordfish and grouper. Having made it so long, I had to search my books to rediscover the original recipe I started with. It is from a series of books called...y la comido se hizo.  The flavor of the grilled pork brings out the smokiness of the chipotle in the sauce. A final payoff: The presentation is stunning.

Serves 6 with about 2 1/2 cups mole

  • 2 medium (about 1 ounce total) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/2 small white onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 8 ounces (about 1 medium-large round or 3 to 4 plum) ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts, plus a few tablespoons chopped for garnish
  • 2 slices firm white bread (or 1/2 dry Mexican bolillo roll), torn into pieces
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeded
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
  • About 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fruity red wine
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, about 1 1/2 teaspoons, depending on the saltiness of the broth
  • Sugar, about 1 tablespoon
  • 1 2 1/2-pound boneless pork loin roast, halves separated if tied together
  • A little freshly ground black pepper
  • Sprigs of flatleaf parsley, for garnish

1. The peanut mole. Tear the ancho chiles into flat pieces, then toast a few at a time on an ungreased griddle or skillet over medium heat: press flat with a metal spatula for a few seconds, until they crackle and change color slightly, then flip and press again. (If they give off more than the slightest wisp of smoke, they are burning and will add a bitter element to the sauce.) In a small bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy, medium-size (4-quart) pot (preferably a Dutch oven) over medium. Add the onion and garlic cloves, and fry, stirring regularly, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Scrape into a blender jar. Set the pan aside.

Roast the tomato on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes, then flip it and roast the other side; cool, then peel, collecting all the juices with the tomato. Add the tomato to the blender, along with the peanuts, bread, chipotles, drained anchos, allspice and cinnamon. Add 1 1/2 cups of the broth and blend until smooth, stirring and scraping down the sides of the blender jar, and adding a little more liquid if needed to keep everything moving through the blades. Press the mixture through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in the pot over medium-high. When hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle sharply, add it all at once. Stir as the nutty-smelling, ruddy-red amalgamation thickens and darkens for about 5 minutes, then stir in the remaining 2 cups broth, the wine, vinegar and bay leaves. Partially cover and let gently simmer over medium-low heat for roughly 45 minutes, stirring regularly for the flavors to harmonize. If necessary, thin the sauce with a little more broth to keep it the consistency of a cream soup. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 1/2 teaspoons, and the sugar. Cover and keep warm.

2.  Grilling and serving the pork. Forty-five to 60 minutes before serving, heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot. Either turn the burner(s) in the center of the grill off or bank the coals to the sides of the grill for indirect cooking. Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill and let the grate heat up, 5 minutes or so.  While the grill heats, brush the pork loin with some of the remaining oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Lay the pork in the center of the grill (not over direct heat). Cover and cook about 25 to 35 minutes, until the center of the pork registers 145 degrees on a instant-read thermometer. The meat will feel rather firm (not hard) to the touch and cutting into the center will reveal only the slightest hink of pink.

Remove to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes. Then cut into thin slices. Ladle a generous 1/3 cup of the earthy-colored sauce onto each of 6 warm dinner plates. Set 2 or 3 pork slices over the sauce. Garnish with chopped peanuts and sprigs of parsley. 

Advance Preparation--The mole may be made up to 5 days ahead; cover and refrigerate. If oil separates from sauce when reheated, either skim it off or blend the sauce in a loosely covered blender. The pork is best cooked just before serving.


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