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Red Cup Tailgates: Sausage sandwiches and chicken mole

In this new weekly feature, we show you what we're whippin' up to take to the Grove (or wherever us out-of-towners have to settle for watching the game).

In an effort to give us an excuse to cook and then share photographs of our spoils like the basic bitches we are here at the Cup, we've decided to start a new posting series titled "Red Cup Tailgates." We'll use this space to tell you about the things we made for the previous weekend's game and possibly wax poetic about other stuff. I dunno. We're just gonna talk about food and stuff. The duties of this will rotate, so you'll be getting a healthy dose of different perspectives throughout the season. Why is it called Red Cup Tailgates if we're not actually tailgating? Well, because sometimes we will. Also, I like to pretend I'm tailgating even when I go to or host watch parties. There are always good excuses to eat too much food and drink to much bourbon.

One thing you need to know about me: on College Football Saturday mornings I cook... a lot. I make lunch, dishes for games, and just general other stuff that I'll be consuming all day. This week, I made, among other things, chicken mole (pronounced mo-lay), sausage sandwiches, Mexican street corn and loaded mashed potatoes. I'll be spotlighting the mole and sandwiches for this post because pictures of mashed potatoes aren't all that interesting, and Mexican street corn, the way I make it, looks terrible but tastes great.

Sausage sandwiches

Things you'll need
  • Sausage
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Deli mustard
  • Pablano (or bell) peppers
  • An onion
  • Bread
  • A beer
How to make it

So, I started off by blistering the peppers in the broiler. They didn't get quite as soft-skinned as I wanted, but it was still pretty easy to peel them. It's important to do this because the skin of peppers is very bitter and can mess with the other flavors in your sandwich.

Peppers

While I blistered the peppers, I pan-fried some pork sausage that was on a mega-sale at Kroger. Any kind will work, but this one had cheddar in it and ended up tasting great. I just put some butter in a pan and then put the sausage in. It was really quite difficult.

Sausage

After I did this, I caramelized some onions in the same pan I had cooked the sausage in (yummy pork fat) and then added some beer (I used Southern Pecan, but it doesn't matter that much). It's important for you to let the onions cook before adding any liquid. Otherwise they will boil, which is not what you want. You want that severe onion-y flavor to cook out of them.

Onions

I like steamed buns, so I placed the buns on top of the onions (after the beer has mostly cooked down) and put a top on the pan. You can certainly prepare the bread however you want. Some people prefer it to be toasty, and I'm going to assume you know how to do that.

Cover one side of the bread with the mustard. I put the mozzarella on a warm pan for a few seconds before adding it to the sandwich, but that's not essential. It should melt with all the hot ingredients.

Sandwich

As with almost any sandwich, making this was pretty easy. Treating each ingredient like it's important though, makes an average sandwich much better.

The gooeyness of the cheese really did wonders for the overall taste. The sandwich was good, but it wasn't really all that special. I get that. But this one's for those of you who can't really cook.

Chicken mole

And now for the mole, which is actually even easier but much more impressive. If you're unfamiliar with the dish, it's a mexican staple and is really just the name of a sauce. The primary flavors in mole are tomato and chocolate. It sounds gross. It isn't, mostly because you don't use sweet chocolate. Trust me. It's really good.

So, I hadn't ever made it before and felt like I needed to use a recipe. I used a Martha Stewart recipe. I know. I know. She's not mexican. Don't hurt me.

Things you'll need
  • 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed
  • 1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

Don't leave anything out. It's all important. Here's a picture of the things you actually have to prepare. It's really not that much stuff.

Mole Ingredients

How to make it

Toast the almonds in a pan with a little bit of oil. Chop the bittersweet chocolate and onion. Stem the anchos. Try not to consume the chipotles whole.

Throw all this in a food processor or blender. Literally every ingredient other than the chicken thighs goes in now.

Blender

I don't know why the picture is rotated. It only looks that way when I upload it. In my image editing stuff, it's good. Tilt your head or something.

So yeah. Puree that. More than I did in this picture. It needs to look pretty homogeneous. Season chicken thighs with salt. Then put those in a slow cooker. Then pour the mixture over them. Cook it on low for 8 hours. It should look like this while it's cooking.

Mole in pot

After eight hours have passed, it's ready to go. I served it over rice. You can also roll it up in a burrito or do whatever you like that soaks up the sauce.

Mole

Overall, I loved it. I will say that it was better the next day and day after. Even considering that it cooked for eight hours, I guess the flavors just need time to really work together. If you're looking for a sweet taste, you'll be disappointed. If you're looking for something overly savory, you will also be disappointed. It combines the good bitterness of dark chocolate with the hearty taste of tomato sauce. I will definitely make it again.

Well, it has been a pleasure kicking this off. I imagine that who ever goes next will attempt to outdo me, especially if it's Ghost. I really enjoyed doing this though, and I hope you liked it too.