Coffee Mole With Grilled Zesty Shrimp
Makes 4 servings (2 ½ cups sauce)
There are many versions of mole, a dark, reddish-brown Mexican sauce. Its best-known ingredient is a small amount of Mexican chocolate, which contributes richness to the sauce without adding overt sweetness. Americanized recipes call for bitter or semisweet chocolate, and this adapted recipe also calls for coffee. The sauce is usually served with poultry, but it's also delicious with shrimp or pork.
For the shrimp
1 cup beer
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
24 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
For the mole
¾ cup strong, hot coffee
2 ancho or poblano chilies, each about 3 by 2 inches, seeded and torn into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup golden raisins
One 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground cloves
½ ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
Salt to taste
Coffee, water, chicken broth, or cream, if needed to thin
To complete the recipe
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley for garnish
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
Combine the beer and pepper flakes in a glass bowl. Stir in the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 3 hours.
To make the sauce, combine the coffee and chilies in a small bowl. Let soak until the chilies are soft, about 20 minutes.
Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the almonds until coarsely ground. Add the raisins and process with 2 or 3 pulses. Add the chilies and their liquid, the onion mixture, and the remaining ingredients, except the chocolate and salt. Process until semi-smooth.
Return the sauce to the pan. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Add the chocolate; cook, stirring occasionally to blend and to keep the mixture from scorching, for about 10 minutes. Add salt to taste. (If too thick, thin the mole with coffee, water, chicken broth, or cream.)
Grill the shrimp on an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook until evenly pink, about 2 minutes on each side.
To serve, place 6 shrimp on each plate and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Accompany with a wedge of lime to squeeze on the shrimp and a small bowl of warm mole.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.