Making a Pipian. A Few Helpful Pointers

“Pipian is the orphan of the mole family, ” says Mary Jane Gagnier co-owner of Rancho Pitaya. “It rarely gets served in restaurants, or talked about.”

I can see why. Pipian verde or rojo, is a lusciously textured mole that uses pumpkin seeds as an integral ingredient and can be tricky to make. My few attempts at home were troublesome – one broke into a curdle-y mess, another I just couldn’t get the consistency right – so attending this cooking class for a few pointers was a Godsend.
The ingredients for this pipian verde are: jalapenos, deveined and seeded, hulled pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, epazote, cilantro and cooked tomatillos.
Pointer #1
Sesame seeds and pepitas should be dry-roasted separately. Roast the pepitas until they pop and plump up. Stir often.

Pointer #2 & #3
Your blender is the most important tool to reproduce the velvety texture associated with a pipian. That and the subsequent straining of blended ingredients through a proper strainer. (Before the blender the stone metate was used – and perhaps still is in some households).
Blend the ingredients in batches until smooth.

Pointer #4
This was so helpful. Strain with a medium open-holed strainer. Note Eloisa’s technique of firmly tapping the side of the strainer with the side of her fisted hand.
Once all the ingredients are blended and strained, don’t worry about what is left in the strainer. Not matter how much you are tempted – and I’ve done this – do not put it back in the sauce.
Your sauce will be watery at this point, but again don’t worry.
Pointer #5
Heat oil in a deep cazuela over medium heat. Pour the pipian in and bring to a simmer. DO NOT BOIL - or it will separate.
Simmer for around 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chicken thighs lightly salted and peppered are sauted and covered to cook. (You can also bake or poach the chicken in a bit of stock).

Your resulting sauce should be velvety, not curdled or thick and gloppy.
It also goes great with prawns.
Lesson learned.

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