Behold the culmination of 4 shops, twenty-something ingredients, thirty fried then soaked chiles, four different purees and hours of hanging out with my equally crazy friend, Lisa. Whew!
My favorite parts:
- Stemming and tearing the 4 different kinds of chiles open, (mulattos, guajillos, pasillas and one chipotle) shaking out the seeds, and toasting them until black. Yes, completely black, hence the name of the sauce.
- Frying the dried chiles in oil, watching them expand and color. I'd never done this before. It was like entertainment and exercise: you stand as far back as possible to avoid spattering oil while watching the chiles transform.
- Taking a much needed oyster and white wine break on her patio, at this point, to fortify ourselves for the next step: the blending of the four separate purees.
At last, after the blending, the simmering, the adding of chicken, the further simmering, the meal was ready. We ladled it over Mexican white rice, a serving of black beans on the side.
For dessert strawberry-garnished flan. I promise to hunt down the recipe.
Was it worth it? If I had done this alone, absolutely not. But isn't that the essence of some cuisines (Mexican, Italian, etc) the communal activity of labor-intense preparations? In other words, a reason to gather, and celebrate, cook and dine. Of course it was worth it!
For those who need directions, it's the Rick Bayless version. Four pages worth. If you try it, lemme know!