More likely, most of these moles are coming from some dried reconstituted mass-market paste. But like anything else, when the big boys get involved and start diluting the marketplace, it's harder to see what all the fuss is about. After all, if Miller Lite was your first sip, you'd probably swear beer off forever. (Unless you happen to be Nick Lachey.)
But when you want the craft beer equivalent of a great mole in Chicago, everyone knows you go to see chef Geno Bahena. Unfortunately, Bahena's an itinerant dude; in the last few years he's spent time in California and when he came back to Chicago, he was often without a restaurant kitchen to call home. Thankfully though, he's now back with a new spot in Logan Square called Real Tenochtitlan.
I stopped in last week for a taste, and his Borrego en Mole Negro, or medium-rare lamp chops swimming in a pool of mahogany mole made of chilhuacle chiles, had me at, "Hola." The layered spicy perfume of the sauce drew me in like a cartoon character following the waft of a fresh apple pie to a window sill. Bahena hasn't lost his touch, and, unlike the corner taqueria, his mole negro is made from scratch, reportedly with 28 spices. Most importantly, he knows how to season, bumping up the earthy chocolatey tones of the mole with the right amount of salt—a seemingly simple feat that's almost always overlooked.
I was so knocked out by the sauce that when we ran out of the freshly griddled tortillas to sop it up, I took the bare lamb chop bones and started running them through the sauce and sucking the drippings off. Thankfully, my scolding mother was nowhere in sight.
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