So far in this series we’ve traveled to West Africa, Cambodia, Singapore, Ireland and Malaysia. As we conclude our global culinary adventure, I thought it would be fun to end with Mexican food: Corn and Poblano Lasagna with Mole Sauce.
Corn and Poblano Lasagna
Another vegetarian masterpiece, I made a few adaptations to this recipe from the Food Network. See the Dinner Diva Tips below for ways I made this Mexican food even tastier! I’ve included a Mole Sauce recipe below for your convenience as well.
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears), or frozen and thawed
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
- 4 poblano chilies, charred, peeled, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
- Twelve 7-by-3-inch no-boil lasagna sheets
- 2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese, or mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium-sized heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add two-thirds of the garlic and the corn and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes for the flavors to incorporate. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender and season with the thyme and some salt and pepper, and puree until smooth.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 1 minute. Mix in the poblano strips and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes for the flavors to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.
Spread about one-quarter of the corn mixture over the bottom of an 11-by-8-inch baking dish. Cover with a layer of 3 lasagna sheets. Spread one-quarter of the poblano mixture and one-quarter of the cheese over the pasta. Repeat the layering three more times. Cover with foil.
Bake until the pasta is cooked and tender, about 50 minutes. Remove the foil and turn up the oven temperature to broil. Broil until golden brown and bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Dinner Diva Tips:
- Add a little Mexican oregano to give the dish even more flavor
- Use regular lasagna noodles. The Dinner Diva doesn’t believe in the ‘no boil’ noodles!
Download and print the recipe here.
Mole Sauce Recipe
This recipe comes from Rick Bayless and was seen on season 7 of One Plate at a Time, which featured Mexican food. It makes a generous 3/4 gallon of mole.
- 10 ounces (5 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 1 1/3 cup (about 6 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds
- 1 cup rich-tasting pork lard or vegetable oil, plus a little more if necessary
- 6 ounces (about 12 medium) dried mulato chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
- 3 ounces (about 6 medium) dried ancho chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
- 3 ounces (about 10 medium) dried pasilla chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 cup (about 4 ounces) unskinned almonds
- 1 cup (about 4 ounces) raisins
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
- 1/2 teaspoon anise, preferably freshly ground
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground
- 2 slices firm white bread, darkly toasted and broken into several pieces
- 2 ounces (about 2/3 of a 3.3-ounce tablet) Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped
- 3 quarts chicken broth
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
1. Preliminaries. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast the tomatillos 4 inches below a very hot broiler until splotchy black and thoroughly soft, about 5 minutes per side. Scrape into a large bowl. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirringly nearly constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Scrape half of them in with the tomatillos. Reserve the remainder for sprinkling on the chicken.
2. Brown other mole ingredients. Turn on an exhaust fan or open a kitchen door or window. In a very large soup pot (I typically use a 12-quart stainless steel stock pot or a medium-large Mexican earthenware cazuela), warm the lard or oil over medium heat. When quite hot, fry the chilies, three or four pieces at a time, flipping them nearly constantly with tongs until their interior side has changed to a lighter color, about 20 or 30 seconds total frying time. Don’t toast them so darkly that they begin to smoke—that would make the mole bitter. As they’re done, remove them to a large bowl, being careful to drain as much fat as possible back into the pot. Cover the toasted chilies with hot tap water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to insure even soaking.
Remove any stray chili seeds left in the fat. With the pot still over medium heat, fry the garlic and almonds, stirring regularly, until browned (the garlic should be soft), about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove to the tomatillo bowl, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot.
Add the raisins to the hot pot. Stir for 20 or 30 seconds, until they’ve puffed and browned slightly. Scoop them out, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot, and add to the tomatillos. Set the pan aside off the heat.
To the tomatillo mixture, add the cinnamon, black pepper, anise, cloves, bread and chocolate. Add 2 cups water and stir to combine.
3. Blend, strain, cook. In a large measuring cup, top off the chilies’ soaking liquid. Taste the liquid. If it’s not bitter, discard all but 6 cups of the liquid. (if you’re short, add water to make up the shortfall). If bitter, pour it out and measure 6 cups water. Scoop half of the chilies into a blender, and pour in half of the soaking liquid (or water) and blend to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Discard the bits of skin and seeds that don’t pass through the strainer. Repeat with the remaining chilies.
Return the soup pot or cazuela to medium heat. When quite hot, pour in the chili puree; it should sizzle sharply and, if the pan is sufficiently hot, the mixture should never stop boiling. Stir every couple of minutes until the chili puree has darkened and reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, about a half hour (I find it useful to cover the pot with an inexpensive spatter screen to catch any spattering chili).
In two batches, blend the mixture of tomatillos as smoothly as possible (you may need an extra 1/2 cup water to keep everything moving through the blades), then strain it in to the large bowl that contained the chilies. When the chili paste has reduced, add the tomatillo mixture to the pot and cook, stirring every few minutes until considerably darker and thicker, 15 to 20 minutes (again, a spatter screen saves a lot of cleanup).
4. Simmer. Add the broth to the pot and briskly simmer the mixture over medium to medium-low heat for about 2 hours for all the flavors to come together and mellow. If the mole has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little water. Taste and season with salt (usually about 4 teaspoons) and the sugar.
You can cool, cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to use. When you’re ready to proceed, rewarm the mole.
Download and print this recipe here.
What’s your favorite type of Mexican food? What additional recipes from around the world would you like me to share?
Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the meals are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.