Cooking Like a Mexican

Pipian Verde (aka mole verde)
BY: ALE BORBOLLA

It’s fall, which in the U.S. means you Gringos (at least the women) are going crazy for pumpkin spice flavored everything. Well, in this column I’m going to be talking about pumpkins, but I’m focusing on the seeds.

I bet you’d be surprised to learn that, along with maize (corn), pumpkins are without a doubt one of the most Mexican vegetables. Native Mexicans, being the resourceful people they were, learned how to use every single bit of the pumpkin, from the stems to the flowers and seeds.

moleverde.JPGIn the pre-Hispanic era, pumpkins were an essential component of the basic diet, with the most used part being the “pepitas” or seeds. Pepitas were extremely popular because they were easily stored, abundant and did not go bad as easily as other ingredients. Pepitas were eaten toasted or ground, and added to different dishes. Most of them are still cooked in a traditional way, like pipian, a special kind of green mole.

Today, I bring to you a recipe called pipian verde (aka mole verde), from the state of Michoacán. The word mole (pronounced mole-ay, not like mole the animal) comes from the word “molli” or “mulli,” originally referring to the act of grinding chiles and adding some kind of liquid, resulting in a thick sauce. Almost every region of Mexico has its own version, using the ingredients native to their land.

This particular variety of green mole is defined by Michoacán’s original ingredients. Green mole from Michoacán is usually served with chicken or pork, white rice and corn tortillas.

Before I give you this recipe, I want to say that this is a complex and elaborate recipe, but I

Ingredients

- 8 lettuce leaves

- 5 chard leaves

- 4 green tomatoes (called tomatillos here)

- 2 poblano peppers

- 2 serrano chiles

- 1 ½ cups sesame seeds

- 1/2 cup of pepitas

- 3 cloves

- 2 cloves of allspice 

- 5 sprigs of cilantro

- 3 sprigs of parsley

- 2 cloves of garlic

- 6 cups of chicken stock

- 5 ounces spoonfuls of pork lard or vegetable or olive oil

- 3 whole peppercorns

Salt to taste

Preparation

For the sauce:

Place the pepitas in a pan over medium heat. Roast them for about a minute until slightly Brown, moving regularly. Make sure you don’t burn them or they turn bitter.

Once roasted, put them in a blender and roughly grind, do not turn them to powder. This mole is known for its special texture, which comes from the pepitas.

Transfer the ground pepitas to a bowl. Add ½ of a cup of chicken broth and mix into a paste. Reserve.

Devein and remove the seeds of the poblano chiles, liquefy in a blender and reserve.

Roast the sesame seeds for about a minute and a half, the same way you roasted the pepitas, until golden brown and moving regularly.

Place the sesame seeds in a blender, along with the lettuce, chard, green tomatoes, serrano chiles, garlic cloves, cloves, allspice, cilantro, parsley, a cup of the chicken broth, and peppercorns.

Blend until smooth and reserve.

In a pan, melt the lard or heat the oil. Cook the pepita mixture for about 5 minutes until well cooked, stirring regularly.

Add the liquefied mixture, the rest of the chicken stock and salt. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the color turns more intense and the consistency thickens, stirring occasionally.

Serve over cooked chicken or pork, and enjoy with a side of white rice and some tortillas.

Pro tip: If you have remaining mole on your dish after you’ve eaten the chicken or pork, mix it with the white rice. This is not very “proper” per se, but it is absolutely delicious and, as my grandfather used to say, if you’re at your house, eat under your own rules!