Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Roasted Monkfish Over Mole Negro

I am having waaaay too much fun pairing wines from Nicole Walsh and her Santa Cruz-based Ser Winery! In this case, I was matching a locally-made Cabernet Pfeffer that I'll be featuring in next month's #WinePW event when we highlight women in wine.

This mole takes a lot of time and needs to rest for, at least, 24 hours before using it. So, do this ahead of time.


Monkfish serves 4

  • 4 monkfish fillets, approximately 1/2 to 3/4 pound each
  • freshly ground salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ground cinnamon for garnish

Mole makes 5 to 6 C of mole so you'll have lots and lots of leftovers for other dishes
  • 6 to 8 T lard (preferably home-rendered)
  • 2 to 4 C homemade chicken stock
  • 4 oz dried ancho chiles 
  • 4 oz dried  pasilla chiles
  • 2 T pecans
  • 2 T peanuts
  • 2 T almonds
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1/8 C dried apricots
  • 1/8 C dried prunes
  • 1/8 C raisins
  • sherry (enough to cover the dried fruits)
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 4 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • 8 oz tomatillos, with husks
  • 1 plantain
  • 1" cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 t black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 18 g chocolate (1/2 of an Abuelita chocolate tablet or other)
  • salt to taste

Bring your chicken stock to a boil, then hold it at a simmer. Slice your dried peppers lengthwise. Open them up and take out the seeds and the veins. Set the seeds aside. You can discard the stems and veins. 

Cut the apricots and plums to the size of the raisins and place them in a medium bowl. Pour sherry over the top of them until they are submerged, approximately 1/2 C. Set aside.

With tongs, hold peppers over an open flame until they blister and turn a lighter shade of brown. Place them in a large bowl and pour hot stock over the top. Every 10 to 15 minutes, turn the peppers or press them down so that they are submerged.

Melt 1 T lard in a skillet and toast the nuts. I started with the almonds, added the pecans, then added the peanuts. When they are all golden brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes, place them in the bowl with the peppers. Toast the sesame seeds until they begin to pop. Place those in the bowl with the peppers, too.

Melt 1 T large in the skillet and toast the spices. I started with the cinnamon sticks and clove and ended with the oregano. Once toasted, place them in the bowl with the peppers, nuts, and seeds.

Melt 1 T lard in the same skillet and char the seeds from the peppers. You want these really, really burnt. Place the seeds in a large mason jar filled with ice water. Let stand for 30 minutes. Change the water and ice and let stand for another 30 minutes. 

Melt 1 T large in the same skillet and fry thick slices of plantain until crisped and golden. Place those in the bowl with the peppers.

Cut onion, tomato, and tomatillo into large chunks, Crush and mince the garlic. Melt 2 T lard in your skillet and cook onion, garlic, tomato, and tomatillo until everything is softened and the onion turning translucent. Place the chocolate in the mixture and cook until the chocolate is melted. Stir well to combine.

Combine all of the ingredients into one large bowl - the peppers, the sherry-soaked fruit, the chocolate-tomato mixture, and the charred pepper seeds. Now you are ready to combine all of the elements and purée all the ingredients, using either a blender and food processor combination or a blender by itself. In batches, purée everything until smooth.

In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the remaining lard over high heat until rippling. Add the purée, all at once, taking care to avoid splatters. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, for at least 30 minutes until the taste of the chiles has mellowed. Season to taste with salt. Set aside. The flavors will deepen and develop the longer you let the mole sit. I left mine to age overnight - in the fridge - before using.

Salt the monkfish, then preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a flat skillet. Pat the fish dry and sear it for 3 to 4 minutes, turning it a few times to make sure that all sides are browned.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 10 to 12 minutes - just until the fish is cooked through but still moist and juicy in the middle. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest for five minutes.

To Serve
Warm the mole sauce and spoon a pool into individual serving dishes. Place a roasted monkfish fillet on the top. Dust with a scant sprinkle of ground cinnamon for garnish.

1 comment:

  1. Unless I can convince Sue to make it, I think I'll just keep buying good mole sauce from a restaurant! I do want to try it with monkfish -- thanks for the tip! I look forward to your #WInePW post next month!


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