For Your Next Party: The Black Course

black course, short rib in grape leaf, mole

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.

oaxacan mole, short rib in grape leaf

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.

fried grape leaves, grape leaf chip

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.

rick bayless beef short ribs

11 thoughts on “For Your Next Party: The Black Course”

  1. Knowing the incredible taste of this course, and the tremendous amount of prep time that went into it, I can’t wait to see how you write it up for Lazaro Cooks.

  2. Lori.. you are amazing and you use flavors I have never dreamed about! I do love a good beer braised rib.. but the elements you combined with it are so intriguing. This sounds delish!!

    I am so excited for all the guest chef spots you have taken part in over the past years.. I remember your Charlie Trotter post and how excited I was for you. I’d love to stand next to Michael Chiarello in his Napa kitchen. 🙂 You are an inspiration! Still wish I could get out to your home restaurant up in S.P. 🙂

    1. Hi Laurie – thank you, gosh, we go back a while, my blog will turn 5 next month! I’ve been fortunate to be a guest chef in some awesome kitchens, thank to my generous brother. I hope you get to cook with Chiarello! We love him too.

  3. Hey LL!
    I loved the preview of this pic you sent me, and now I am excited to try this in my kitchen! Experimenting with my dessert presentation has me inspired to venture into the modernist approach a bit more.

    1. Hi Debi – The modernist approach is fun! Turning oil into power is one of the easiest techniques. I’m still practicing others, like the molecular egg…

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