Avocados have a history far beyond being mashed on toast. I was recently schooled in the varieties and applications at an avocado orchard connected to Tintenbar Distillery by the owner Rob Walsh, who is a distiller and farmer. Tasting the difference in texture and flavour across multiple varieties was extraordinary. Commercially in Australia we see only two or three varieties from the more than 500 that exist, most likely due to the capacity for shelf stability, as we know the difference between a ripe avocado and an overripe avocado can seem like only minutes.
It’s not just the flesh of the avocado that has purpose. The leaf (and the stone for that matter) is widely used in South American cuisine, particularly in Mexico. One particular variety called Fuerte has an anise herbal-like quality to the leaf that works beautifully in infusions. A very common use for the avocado leaf in Mexican cuisine is in the mole, the sauce or paste.
Mole has a rich heritage in Mexican cuisine and culture with strong representation in most regions. Multiple types of mole exist across those regions, from different pepper varieties to the sometimes omitted chocolate that can be a contentious issue. This recipe is derived from ingredients that are more common to this area, so I could hardly call it authentic. Mole eats like a dish unto itself when balanced as such, and this is what we are trying to achieve in this recipe.
This mole is one I have simplified for the page. For the ultimate mole each ingredient is cooked in its own way to then come together as a paste. Feel free to improvise: treating each ingredient separately brings about a more complex and luxurious flavour.
Time: 1 hour preparation + 2 hours cooking
Serves 8 to 10
- 120g rendered pork fat
- 200g tomatillos
- 4 shallots
- 4 heads garlic
- 10 poblano chillies, fresh
- 50g dried chipotle chillies
- 150g roasted ancho chilli paste
- 1 ripe banana
- 6 dried avocado leaves
- 50g sesame seeds
- 100g sunflower seeds
- 100g pumpkin seeds
- 15g ground cumin
- 15g ground coriander
- 80g wheat tortillas
- 100g cacao nibs
- 50g brown sugar
- 600ml pork or chicken stock
- 120g dark chocolate
- 4-5 avocados
- Combine the pork fat, tomatillos, shallots, garlic, chillies, chilli paste and banana and roast all together at 160ºC for 40 minutes before turning up the heat to 190 degrees for eight minutes. Stir regularly. This should result in a heavily roasted and rich brown mixture.
- Place the avocado leaves, seeds and spices with the tortillas and toast on a tray in an oven with no fan at 150ºC for 12 minutes. The avocado leaves and the tortillas should be a caramel brown.
- Blend the dry mix in either an upright blender or using a mortar and pestle (if you are keen, it’s a better result), then blend the pepper mix until both are a paste. Combine all of the pastes into a pot and cook on a low heat for about one hour. Stir regularly with a wooden spoon to ensure the paste doesn’t stick to the pot and catch on the bottom. This should transform it into a richer deep red and brown colour.
- Add the cacao nibs and sugar together with the stock and cook for a further 20 minutes. Once the paste is the consistency of a rich sauce, place it into a blender with the chocolate and blend the lot together one more time, adjusting for seasoning.
- Cut the avocados in half and remove the seeds. Score the avocados and then place them face side down into a cast-iron pan over a high heat with no oil. Cook for about two minutes.
- Place a large spoonful of the mole into the centre of a plate. Neatly scoop the avocado flesh out over the top then season with oil and salt. Serve with fresh tortillas and whatever your protein preferences (this style is best suited to pork or chicken).
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Dec 4, 2021 as "Hot source".
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