Ok, for once I decided not to tackle making a condiment from scratch. Iâ€™ve long heard about mole (for those not down with the Spanish, itâ€™s pronounced â€œMO-layâ€), a Mexican sauce famous for having many, many ingredients. And by the way, those ingredients usually include chocolate! So naturally, it sounded like something I would eventually attempt.
However, after making homemade seitan and barbecue sauce this weekend for a â€œCowboys and Ninjasâ€ potluck, I was worn out.
So I bought mole sauce. One brand had chicken fat and other schmaltzy ingredients, but the one I settled on (Rogelio Bueno, available at fine markets like Bestway on Mt. Pleasant Street) was all veg. It did have artificial color, but I decided not to let that bother me.
Aside from not having animals among the ingredients, the inclusion of some form of chocolate was a crucial factor for me. Rogelio Bueno came through on both.
Hereâ€™s what I made:
Saucy Hoppinâ€™ John
(The amounts here are not exact. If you try this, please let me know how it goes and any adjustments you made)
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in cold water or brought to a boil and allowed to sit for an hour or two
3 tbs canola or olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, diced
Other diced veggies, as desired. In this case I included cactus leaf, fresh tomato, and mustard greens
1 tsp salt, or to taste
Â¼ cup salsa (optional)
Â½ cup diced or crushed canned tomato (optional)
3 cups water
Handful of cilantro, chopped (optional)
2 Tbs mole sauce, or to your taste
6 Tbs water or stock
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil or butter. When hot enough for a piece of onion to sizzle, add all of the onion and other veggies, except greens. SautÃ© for about 5 minutes, or until onions approach translucency (if thatâ€™s a word).
Now mix the 2 Tbs. mole with 6 Tbs. water and stir into your peas. If youâ€™re using another amount, keep in mind the ratio of 1 part mole to 3 parts water.
Add salt, salsa and canned tomato if youâ€™re using them, along with the 3 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a lively simmer. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, then throw in greens if youâ€™re using them and stir. Cover again and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on the pot and adding water if necessary. There should always be generous amounts of simmering broth.
When black-eyed peas are tender, itâ€™s done! Well, except if youâ€™re using cilantro. That you can stir in at the end. It will wilt but not over cook and keep a nice, bright green color along with the bright green cilantro flavor.
Eat this stuff by scooping it up with tortillas. Itâ€™s up to you if you want to be amused by the way this combines American soul food with Mexican tradition. Peace on Earth, and good will toward everybody.