I love farmers markets. For someone who lives in a city where there is the barest of agriculture and the majority of food is imported, the freshness and range of produce is mind-boggling. I was recently in San Francisco and besides doing the requisite open top bus tour and visit to the Golden Gate Bridge, we visited the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. I did get distracted by a Sur La Table kitchenware outlet at the beginning, but soon got into action, buying fresh duck eggs, cheese and snacking on an amazing range of food offerings.
Then I saw the little stall selling dried chillis. At this point in the trip I actually had no space left in my luggage, so the dried chillis were a hardy and non-perishable item. I confess I stalled at the shop for quite a while because I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the offerings. In the end I settled on the guajillo and chihuacle negro chillis, which the stall owner explained would give a good blend of spicy and milder spiciness in the mole sauce that I was envisioning.
Fast forward a couple of months and I had forgotten about the chillis. But digging in the freezer I found a neglected packet of beef brisket that I knew I had to cook up and suddenly remembered that I had planned to make a mole. Actually I had planned on a chicken mole initially but the beef was also an equally attractive option (since the family is made up of beef lovers).
I decided to treat cooking this mole the way we cook Asian curries. Most recipes call for cooking of the chillis and aromatics in the stewing liquid then blending later, but I figured I could make the onions and garlic and spices into a kind of a spice paste and fry it the way we handle rempah in South East Asian cooking. I assumed the almonds were the equivalent of buah keras or candlenut and the spices would meld and hold better together, and by frying the spice paste there would be some caramelization and increased intensity of the flavours.
One of the disadvantages of pressure cooking is that there is usually a lot of cooking liquid left after pressure cooking and this needs to be reduced. The good thing about the recipe is that the reduction phase is a wonderful time to add flavours like the chocolate, adjust seasoning and add any spices if necessary. This recipe is probably milder than a typical mole as I cut back the spices because of kid#2.
When I got back that evening after a dinner with friends I was pleasantly surprised to find hubs and kid#2 slurping up the mole and raving about how it was the best beef stew ever. I guess this is a sign of success! 😁
Instant Pot Beef Mole
- 1 kg beef brisket, cut in 1.5 – 2 inch pieces
- 2 medium onions
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 dried chihuacle negro chilis
- 2 dried guajillo chillis
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate (I used Lily’s baking chocolate)
- 1 tsp dark cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp sugar substitute
- 1 tsp xanthan gum powder
- 4 tbsp peanut oil
- 2 cups chicken or beef stock
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds for garnishing (optional)
- Additional 1-2 tbsp toasted sliced almonds for garnishing (optional)
- Coriander leaves for garnishing (optional)
- Soak the dried chillis in hot water for about 10 minutes. Remove and trim away the stem and seeds. Cut into pieces.
- Cut the onions into large chunks. Place chopped onions, garlic, sliced almonds and dried chillis into a food processor and finely chop till almost paste-like consistency.
- Put the Instant Pot on sauté mode and place 2-3 tbsp oil in the pot.
- Sear the beef pieces, browning every side. Set aside.
- Add 1 – 2 tbsp oil into the pot and sauté the onion and garlic mix till fragrant and slightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, salt, bay leaf, cumin, coriander, dried oregano and tomato paste into the pot and stir through, add the beef brisket pieces back into the pot. The stock should just cover the beef pieces.
- Seal the pot and put on high manual pressure for 1 hour. Do a quick pressure release when done.
- Skim off the oil on the surface of the liquid. Remove the beef pieces and put the pot back on sauté mode. Add the dark chocolate pieces, cocoa powder and sugar substitute. Continue on sauté mode for about 10-15 minutes till reduced. Sprinkle the xanthan gum on the surface of the simmering liquid and stir well for about 3-5 minutes to thicken up the liquid.
- In the meantime, shred the beef in another bowl. (You can leave the beef unshredded if you want it to be like a stew. If not, shredding the beef allows you to roll it up in a tortilla or taco.
- Put the shredded beef back into the cooking liquid. Serve hot over low carb wraps or tortillas. Sprinkle sesame seeds, toasted almond slices and coriander for garnishing over the top.