Recipe: Tenderloin of Venison with Cacao & Chilies
I don’t call this a mole, largely because the name has a stigma. Most folks encounter this sauce in it’s most wimpy of forms: a sweet and spicy sauce made from chocolate. It’s delicious in a TGIF/Ruby Tuesday kind of way. If you look online, most of the recipes for mole fit into this formula. It’s not bad, but it’s not fantastic, either. The authentic sauce, on the other hand, is utterly amazing, especially if you look past the more modern recipes using Mexican
chocolate and use a recipe using the original ingredient: pure cacao nibs. This is a sauce that balances two intense flavors: chilies and cacao in a deep and savory mixture balanced by a mixture of toasted nuts and spices. It is one of the deepest flavors imaginable, but you have to be able to take the heat. The problem is that it’s a very complicated recipe with over 20 ingredients and dozens of steps. Most Mexican restaurants don’t even bother.
I didn’t like the choice between an overly simple sauce and an overly complex one, so I crafted this recipe. It is much simpler to execute but keeps the deep intense flavors. This sauce is the perfect accompaniment for a grilled filet of venison, medium rare. This recipe was crafted for two amazing fillets of venison I was given recently. A big thanks to Sharon Beck and her family! These were some of the finest cuts of venison I have ever enjoyed.
- 2 tablespoons Cayenne chili powder
- 2 tablespoons Ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 oz sesame seeds
- 1 oz peanuts
- 1 oz almonds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- sprinkle cinnamon.
- 1/4 c cacoa nibs
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 c grapeseed oil
- 1/2 c chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the chilies, peanuts, almonds, peppercorns, oregano, cacao nibs and cinnamon together. Place mixture on a sheet tray and bake for 30 minutes, or until the nuts are dark brown and toasted.
Meanwhile, preheat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the onion and garlic. Once the onion is transparent, add the tomato paste. Stir the mixture and keep the heat on. The idea will be to carmelized the mixture, but not to burn it. This should take about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, and let come to a boil. Remove from heat.
Once the spice and chocolate mixture is toasted, remove from the oven and add to the onion mixture. Allow it to simmer for a half hour. The consistency should remain soupy. If it begins to dry out, add water.
After simmering, remove from heat. Puree using an immersion blender, and strain. The final product should be intensely flavorful and spicy. Adjust salt, if necessary.