Physical Challenge – Mole Negro

Here at Grimm Gourmet we bypass the childish dares and double dares. Our biochemically fascinating chefs are daring enough.  We get right to the physical challenges, the dirty work.

What is a Physical Challenge?  Each Grimm Chef will investigate, experiment with, and refine a recipe selected specifically for the challenge over the course of a month, and then submit their selection under our very own peer review process for selection as People’s Champion.

Rules of Engagement

Recipes will be judged by the following criteria on a sliding points scale (1-5 where 5 indicates exceptional performance):

  1. Creativity – Points awarded to the chef that reinvents the selected dish and provides the most unique interpretation.
  2. Authenticity – A counterpoint to creativity, authenticity ensures each chef remains true to the spirit of the selected dish.
  3. Execution – Can the dish be reproduced by other Grimm Chefs of varying skills and experience?  Aspects of execution include time of preparation, ease of procuring ingredients, etc.
  4. Presentation – Is the dish presented in an interesting, unique, attractive and appetizing manner?
  5. Taste – Each Grimm dish will be reproduced by the other chefs and a taste comparison conducted with a panel (up to 5 individuals) of the chef’s choosing.

All criteria will be summed, and the chef receiving the highest points appointed People’s Champion until the next Physical Challenge…

Today we bring you Grimm Gourmet Physical Challenge #1 – Mole Negro

What is mole?  Mole refers to a number of sauces in traditional Mexican cuisine.  The ingredients of mole can be grouped into five distinct classes: chiles, sour (tomatillos), sweet (dried fruits and sugar), spices, and thickeners (nuts and tortillas).  There are various types of mole, so to keep the Challenge on task, we will be preparing mole negro.

Mole negro (black mole) is a Oaxacan mole that traditionally takes days to prepare and has been served at the White House for State Dinners.  Our challenge is to bring the mole negro back from the brinks of power to the people!  A mole in a day!  For some background on the People’s Mole, how about a video from the Hairy Bikers Cookbook?

Check out Part 2 here to see “a fantastic place to watch sesame seeds toast, …the seeds of our mole.”

When is the deadline?  Each mole must be submitted to the Grimm Gourmet site by May 31st, and the competition and judging will commence in early June.

Do you accept?  If not, I’ve just wasted an hour writing this stupid post.

Little Prince Pilau – the SOP

The fresh LP…

Today we went over to Zenna Babu’s house to meet the Little Prince.  We picked up Goodluck near Makatona Pub to show us the way, then kicked it for a spell in Zenna’s living room sipping on Serengeti and listening to gospel.  Then we ate pilau.

Pilau is like an East African pilaf – masala seasoned meat and vegetables cooked with rice.   But pilau at Zenna’s is extra special, maybe because of Little Prince, or maybe because of her SOP, or maybe because she cooks it with her sister.

My homework is to replicate the Little Prince Pilau back in the US, but we think it best to share the original here first, since I’m sure I’ll muck it up with my own ideas back in Cali…

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Pesto di Noce

The orchard and its flock

It’s officially fall, which means no more 100 degree days.  Out in Winters fall isn’t colored in the mosaic of reds, yellows, and browns of Michigan or Eastern states.  Trees don’t drop their leaves, they drop their nuts. Acorns, buckeyes, pine nuts, and walnuts.  So in honor of dropping nuts, it was pesto time.

I thought about a crafting a traditional pesto using pine nuts from the grey pine, or ghost pine (digger pine if you’re racist), but  it seemed like a lot of work.  Picking cones, placing them in a burlap bag and then bashing the bag to break up the cones, finally working through the mess to pick out the nuts, which are reportedly tasty, though not as rich in fat and oil as Pinon or the pine nuts of the Fertile Crescent.  According to this guy, working with wild pine nuts is a labor of love.  Walnuts on the other hand, simply require shelling, like a good domesticated orchard crop should.

Out in Winters we are surrounded by walnut orchards.  Basil, parsley and garlic grow in the garden.  Olive oil is produced down the road, so all that is missing from a rock solid country Pesto di Noce is a local Parmesan.  No luck.  Sorry localvores, this dish features a no good border crossing immigrant cheese.

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Fast Eddie’s Morning Oats

This morning we received the first recipe contribution from pops indirectly through email.  This is a no bullshit Grimm Gourmet style recipe for his habitual morning oatmeal, prepared every weekday since Atari released this game

Fast Eddie’s Morning Oats

In the morning, I just throw oats and water in a pan, boil, and then throw in fruit, olive oil butter, a little flax and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and it’s delish.  Takes @10 minutes.

Cast Iron Revival

Before we moved I cleaned the oven, on self clean.  But I didn’t check inside before locking it down and starting the cycle.  Then I turned on the light and sighed.  Cast iron dutch oven perfectly seasoned waiting for execution.  After 5 hours I opened the door and took out the charred remains of my favorite cooking tool – ashen, grey, brittle, just like this:

Two months later and I can’t braise or stew over charcoal without my Dutch buddy, so today I reconditioned it.  There are so many bad cast iron reconditioning methods out there I decided to contribute another post on the simple method.  Ignore all the online traffic calling for aerosolized chemical oven cleaners, vinegar, rubber gloves, steel wool, power sanders, and a wicked variety of bad ideas.  Instead, find a potato, cut it in half, grab your salt shaker and head outside.

Method:

  1. Pour salt into cast iron pan (fine or course – both work great, you can even do this with sand)
  2. Take your potato in hand, and scrub inside and out, special attention on any rusty spots
  3. Rinse out the rust brown clumped residue with a hose or bucket of water
  4. Rub cooking oil all over the pan (inside and out)
  5. Put pan on the range over low heat for about 10 minutes
  6. Lightly dab any oil from the pan with a towel for storage

Why does this work?  The moisture in the potato works with the salt/sand like a wet sanding pad, rust removes rapidly with the moisture and abrasion, and in about 15 minutes you have a rust-free iron pan.  Oil starts the reconditioning process to build up that rich patina again.

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