In my previous post, I talked about sunchokes (AKA Jerusalem artichokes, pataca, tupinambur, etc.). I found them recently at a local market, so I planted a few in a pot indoors, waiting for them to sprout and be transplanted outdoors, once we get some clear skies and warmer temperatures here in Southern Ontario. The rest I used for cooking; some of them had funny shapes, looking almost like chicken drumsticks, thighs and wings, which inspired me to prepare this dish with a meatless option.
I have also posted about the origins and history of Mexican pipián, a dish given this name during colonial times, but known to be prepared before the arrival of the Spaniards to the American continent. It is based on native pumpkin seeds and peppers (chiles), although some recipes have become so elaborate, containing both Old and New World ingredients, that may be considered moles. Linguistically speaking, mole simply means “sauce”, from the Nahuatl molli, so technically, any Mexican sauce would be a mole (for example, guacamole – avocado sauce); by the way it is more commonly defined nowadays, though, usually mole refers to a complex sauce that has varied ingredients, including spices, fruits, seeds and different peppers (chiles). Pipianes may include all these ingredients, but the type that truly defines them as their own, is always the ground seeds. There are many pipián recipes, originating from individual family heirloom formulas, and depending on the region, mostly parts of the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Puebla, Veracruz, San Luis Potosi, Queretaro and Hidalgo, as well as Mexico City. According to the ingredients, traditional or contemporary pipianes may be green, blushed, white or as in this case, red. This recipe was based on a recipe from Hidalgo, but may be considered as a “standard” contemporary recipe, which could be found in kitchens all around Mexico. The aspects I modified were the addition of sunchokes for a vegan option, and the techniques used regarding the spices, which are often roasted whole, ground in a molcajete (Mexican mortar), and then added to the sauce; I started with ground spices, which could easily burn and be hard to collect from a hot surface, so I added them later, directly to the final pan with oil, blooming right before incorporating the rest of the sauce, thus allowing all their aroma to pervade the sauce.
Red Pipián (with Vegan Option) –
Pipián rojo (con opción vegana)
Ingredients (for 6 portions)
2 ancho peppers
2 guajillo peppers
1 spicy dry pepper (chile de árbol, chipotle or morita), optional
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seed
1/3 cup shelled peanuts
1/4 cup sesame seed
1/4 white onion
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground all-spice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4-6 tbsp olive oil
Water, as needed
1 lb (454 g) boneless pork meat, such as loin or chops (omit for vegan)
1 lb (454 g) sunchokes
Mexican style rice (click here for my recipe)
Prepare pork (omit for vegan): Pat meat dry with a paper towel; cut into pieces, approximately one-inch per side. In a pot, warm up two tablespoons of oil over medium/high heat; add meat and fry for a minute or so per side, turning to sear all surfaces:
Add enough water to cover the meat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cover pot and cook for around 40 minutes, until the meat is tender and fully cooked. Transfer meat to a plate, strain broth through a mesh and reserve.
Prepare sunchokes: Wash and scrub thoroughly, then place in a pot and cover completely with water; boil for 10 minutes, just until partially cooked (photo below, left). Drain and discard cooking water, then drizzle blanched sunchokes with two tablespoons of olive oil, and season with salt and freshly grated black pepper (photo below, centre). Arrange on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and roast under the broiler for another 20 minutes, turning once halfway. Reserve roasted sunchokes (photo below, right):
NOTE: These particular sunchokes had funny shapes, looking almost like chicken drumsticks, thighs and wings. I left them whole for that effect, but they might be cut into chunks.
Prepare ingredients for sauce, as shown in the photo below, from top left: Using a damp towel, wipe peppers clean; remove stems and seeds from the ancho (top) and guajillo (middle) peppers, and stem from spicy pepper(chile de árbol for a slightly angrier sauce in this case, bottom). Measure ground spices and place in a small bowl. Wash tomatoes and remove stem spot. Peel onion and garlic. Measure pumpkin seed, peanuts and sesame seed:
Roast using a dry skillet (no oil) over medium heat: Start with the ancho, guajillo and spicy (if using) peppers, just until they become fragrant, turning frequently to avoid burning, and transferring promptly to a bowl (photo below, left). Add one cup of boiling water to the bowl, and allow peppers to soak (photo below, right):
Roast seeds, stirring constantly, starting with the pumpkin seeds (photo below, left). Transfer to a bowl, repeat with the peanuts, and finish with the sesame seed, adding them to the same bowl (photo below, right):
Continue roasting the tomatoes, onion and garlic, turning to char all sides (tatemar), but careful not to burn the garlic (photo below, left). Transfer to a bowl and reserve (photo below, right):
Process sauce: Place reserved seeds in a blender jar, and add half a cup of reserved broth (or water, for vegan, photo below, left). Process to grind all the seed, stopping to scrape with a spatula, as needed (photo below, centre). Add peppers and their soaking water to the jar (photo below, right):
Process for a few seconds, just to blend the peppers into the seed paste; add reserved tomatoes, onion and garlic, with any juices from the bowl (photo below, left); process to achieve a uniform sauce (photo below, right):
Cook sauce: In a large pot, warm up two tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add reserved spices from small bowl (photo below, left). Stir to coat with the oil, allowing to become fragrant, about one minute, or less. Pour reserved sauce from the blender (photo below, right):
Fry sauce, stirring continuously to mix with the spiced oil. Add one cup of reserved broth (or water, for vegan) to the blender jar, gently shaking to collect any leftover sauce, then pour in the pot with the sauce (photo below, left). Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and continue cooking and stirring, for about ten minutes, until the sauce has a nice smooth consistency; the sauce is ready when it develops a deeper tone, starts bubbling, and small pools of oil form on the surface (photo below, right):
Add reserved pork (photo below, left), and sunchokes, or omit meat for vegan (photo below, right):
Correct seasoning with more salt and/or black pepper, if needed. Gently simmer until all ingredients are heated through.
Serve with a side of Mexican style rice, and warm corn tortillas. In the photo at the top of this post, and below, the “chicken-shaped” sunchokes really look like a drumstick and thigh covered in red pipián:
Slicing reveals the tasty vegan surprise:
A non-vegetarian plate may have meat and sauce only, with the side of rice:
The juicy and tender pieces of pork pair perfectly with red pipián:
And of course, a plato mixto – mixed plate, provides a little of everything, for the whole omnivore experience:
For your convenience, click on the images below for products available on Amazon™. DISCLAIMER: Any reviews included in this post are my own, for items I have purchased, not provided by any company; as an Amazon Associates Program affiliate, I might receive a commission for any purchases originated from the links below, at no extra cost to you (thank you to readers who have bought other products starting with a click from my links!):
I am sharing my recipe at Thursday Favourite Things #480, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.