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Yes, there are three chiles in this recipe, but they are relatively mild, making this a wonderfully spicy but not hot Mexican-inspired side for Thanksgiving. Yet another example of how sweet potatoes work wonderfully in a savory preparation.
The mole sauce can be made in advance and stored in the fridge, which I would definitely recommend doing if you want to make this for Thanksgiving. Mole has a lot of ingredients, but it’s not complicated.
Sweet Potatoes with Mole and Queso Fresco
Mole sauce adapted from multiple recipes, including Braised Chicken with Oaxacan Chocolate Mole Sauce, Food & Wine
2 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
1 guajillo chile, stems and seeds removed
3 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup almonds
3 tbsp. golden raisins
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 star anise pod
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
12 black peppercorns
One cinnamon stick
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
6 oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 cups water
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Soak the chiles in hot water for 30 minutes while preparing other ingredients.
3. Combine the cubed sweet potatoes, olive oil and salt in a large bowl and toss to coat. Spread potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft and very lightly browned.
4. In a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sesame seeds, star anise, cumin, coriander, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon stick. Toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a spice grinder and allow it to cool then grind the seeds and spices to a fine powder.
5. Return the 4-quart saucepan to the stove, add the vegetable oil and increase heat to medium. Add the onion and garlic and saut until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the almonds, raisins and pumpkin seeds and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the ground spice mixture, tomato paste and bittersweet chocolate, then add the chiles and water and stir until the ingredients are well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then puree the mixture using an immersion blender or transfer to a food processor and puree in batches. Transfer mole sauce to a container and store in the fridge until ready to use (reheat in the microwave as needed). Makes about 3 to 4 cups.
6. In a large bowl combine the roasted sweet potatoes with about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of mole sauce and stir to combine. Top with crumbled queso fresco and serve immediately.
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