Nigredo: a plated dish

This was one of those dishes that I had on my to-make list for months, but I just never got around to it, mostly out of laziness – I wanted to practice doing a Oaxacan style black mole, using black garlic, but I just never got around to buying the chilies for it until more recently. For this dish, I wanted something that was dark in color, and I knew black mole with black garlic would fit that bill perfect. Pairing it with black beans and a tortilla is an homage to a tlayuda, which is like a Oaxacan pizza made from a tortilla topped with bean puree and other things. I took that and sort of flipped it on its head, having the bean puree, or in this case, a black bean crema, as the base for a black mole-braised shortrib, with the tortilla on the side. I named this dish “Nigredo”, because that is a term in alchemy for “deterioration”, which, between the mole oxidizing into the color black, using black garlic which is a fermented product, and featuring a braised protein, fits that bill perfect. That and “Nigredo” prefers to the term “blackness” in Latin, and with a black mole, that description fits nicely there as well. Overall, this dish is very earthy and comforting, with the mole having these rich, molasses-y notes from using the black garlic in particular.

For the shortribs:
4 bone-in beef shortribs
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion, peeled and diced
a pinch of salt
beef stock

Sear the short ribs on every side in a pan lined with a thin layer of oil. Then sweat out the garlic and onion in the same pan, seasoning them with salt. Add in the ribs and submerge with stock. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

For the mole:
2 pasilla chilies
2 guajillo chilies
3 ancho chilies
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 tspn ground cumin
1/4 tspn ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn ground clove
1/4 tspn ground allspice
1/2 tspn dried oregano
1/4 tspn dried thyme
2 cups beef stock
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup dried raisins
4 cloves black garlic
2 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped
Braised ribs and their braising liquid

Roast the chilies in a pan until they are brittle to the touch. Remove the stems and seeds. Toast off the pepitas and pecans in the same pan for about 20 seconds, then transfer into a blender with the chilies. In that same pan, toast off the spices as well, for about 10 seconds, before adding in beef stock, dried raisins, diced tomato, and black garlic into that pan – this will keep the spices from charring. Stir around, scraping the bottom of the pan to ensure nothing is left behind there, and then pour the liquid into the blender with the chilies and nuts. Puree on low speed first, then increase the speed slowly. Puree until everything is fully combined. Pour into a pan and cook on low heat, adding the chocolate in about 5 minutes the way through. Stir occasionally, every 4 to 5 minutes, leaving the mole on low heat for at least another 20 to 30 minutes. Afterwards, add the short ribs and the liquid into the mole and reduce down again until it reaches the consistency of a rich tomato-like sauce(think pizza sauce).

For the tortilla:
1 cup farina soft wheat flour(you can also use 00), with more for rolling
1/3 cup hot water
2 tablespoons neutral flavored oil
a pinch of salt

Mix ingredients together to form a dough. Divide into 16 pieces and roll each one out as thinly as possible. Sear on each side for about 20 seconds on medium heat, just to get the tortillas cooked.

For the black bean crema:
1 can black beans, liquid drained and beans rinsed
zest and juice from 2 limes
1/4 cup Mexican crema
a pinch of salt

Puree together until creamy in texture. Keep cold until time to plate.

To plate:
Nasturtium leaves

Start with a small mound of the crema. Top off with the short ribs and the mole sauce. Finish with the nasturtiums on top, and the tortilla on the side.

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