the black course:
negra modelo beer braised beef short rib with chile de arbol
wrapped in a grape leaf with oaxacan black mole sauce
black mission figs, shiitake mushrooms
crispy grape leaf chip, sesame ash, black sesame seed, cacao nibs
Of the seven courses we served at our fundraiser dinner, the black course is my creative favorite. I looked to Mexican cuisine experts – Chefs Rick Bayless, Patricia Quintana, and Javier Plascencia for inspiration. I learned about making sesame ash while Guest-Chef-for-the-Day at Moto Restaurant in Chicago last January and had been wanting to try Chef Homaro Cantu’s modernist technique in a dish ever since. What appears to be ash is black sesame seed oil converted into a powder. It serves visual interest as well as a flavor complement to the sesame seed in the mole.
Rick Bayless’ Beer Braised Short Ribs with Arbol Chile and Shiitake recipe was our guide for cooking the bone-in organic beef short ribs. The March 2012 issue of Sunset magazine showcased a Short Rib Wrapped in Fig Leaf recipe by Javier Plascencia of Tijuana, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Top Chef Korean Food Challenge in 2011. Sunset’s recipe uses store-bought mole which we did try, but were not completely satisfied, so we turned to Patricia Quintana’s indispensable classic cookbook The Taste of Mexico for help with the Oaxacan Black Mole.
While not complicated, there were many steps in the making of the mole, but it was definitely worth the time and effort. It required a trip to a Mexican supermercado for the ingredient list. Plascencia’s fig leaf wrap, while edible, is typically only used to encase foods. We replaced the fig leaf with the more tender, fragrant grape leaf and served a crisp grape leaf chip with the dish. Bitter cacao nibs and sweet black mission figs add contrasting textures and play on the flavors in the Oaxacan mole.
Hungry for details? I have the honor of writing a Guest Post for my Floridian blog friend Laz, of Lazaro Cooks! He is an audacious cook, bold & fearless, and his super-creative plating skills are second to none. Reading his blog is never dull! I knew since conception that this edgy black course was the one to share on LC. Make sure to visit Laz’s blog here and read all about the black course with recipes for the Beer Braised Short Ribs with Chile de Arbol & Shiitake, Grape Leaf Chips, Oaxacan Black Mole, and the cool Sesame Ash.