Oaxacan Vacation: Mole-Style Tacos and Burgers With Beer Hot Sauce

Cooking with Beer by | Dec 2018 | Issue #133
Photos by Sean Z. Paxton

These recipes incorporate beer via a new hot sauce, Nor Cal Mole, which uses Oatmeal Stout from Anderson Valley Brewing Company as a base for building flavor. Imagine an ingredient that easily adds distinctive, historical, and multifaceted flavors. The hot sauce uses the hottest chili in the world, the Carolina Reaper, which is cooled off with habanero, poblano, and ancho chilies. Orange, tangerine, lime, and calamansi juices round out the acid, along with malt vinegar, Stout malt syrup, and mole-inspired spices. Ultimately, this hot sauce acts as a seasoning, increasing the heat and boosting Mexican umami in each dish.

Mole Taco Meat
Add this easy to make, flavorful, and versatile taco meat recipe to your cooking repertoire.

Serves: 4–6

Ingredients
2–3 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 pound ground lamb, beef, venison, turkey, or chicken thigh
3 clove garlic, peeled and grated fine
2–3 tbsp Nor Cal Mole from Eat Beer Hot Sauce
4 oz Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes

Directions
In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the oil and onions. Stir frequently for 10 minutes, until the onions are fully transparent and start to turn brown. Add the salt and ground lamb (or other meat). Brown the meat, using a spatula to break it apart. When it has fully separated and browned, about 10 minutes, add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Then add in the Nor Cal Mole Hot Sauce and stir for one minute. Deglaze with Oatmeal Stout and add in the canned tomatoes. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients, then simmer for approximately 10 minutes. The meat is finished when the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more hot sauce or salt if needed.

To Serve
This Mole Taco Meat can be used for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or as a chili relleno filling. Top with diced tomatoes, white onions, grated cheeses, sour cream, garlic rice, refried black beans, or anything else that sounds good.

Mole Burger
These Mole Burgers have a deep heat, made rich with flavors from the hills of Oaxaca. Bold dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, chilies, and a touch of citrus all combine into a unique burger patty. The mole hot sauce showcases its versatility as an ingredient in this guest-pleasing recipe.

Makes: Four 1/3 pound burgers

Caramelized Red Onion Ring Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, peeled whole, evenly sliced into 4 disks

Mole Burger Ingredients
1 1/3 pound lamb, ground
1  tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp cracked mixed peppercorns
4  tbsp Nor Cal Mole from Eat Beer Hot Sauce
4 hamburger buns (brioche, Kaiser, or potato roll)
1 recipe Oaxacan Secret Sauce
1/2 cup baby spinach, shredded iceberg lettuce, or arugula

Caramelized Red Onion Ring Directions
In a cast iron skillet or a sauté pan, add the oil, tilting to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Lightly dust the surface of the oil with salt. With the pan on medium low heat, add the red onion rings, pressing them down into the oil. Cook the onions for 10 minutes without turning to caramelize. Then flip them and cook another 5–8 minutes, until fully caramelized. Remove the onions to a plate and keep warm.

Mole Burger Directions
Divide the lamb meat into four 1/3 pound portions. Flatten the meat on a cutting board, seasoning each with salt and pepper, then 1 tablespoon of Nor Cal Mole Hot Sauce. Fold the meat onto itself and massage in the seasonings. Now form a single 4-1/2 inch diameter patty from the ball. Set aside and make the remaining patties. Lightly season both sides of each patty with salt.

Increase the temperature of the skillet to medium high and heat the pan for 4 minutes. Add the patties to the skillet, leaving enough room between them to cook evenly. Press the patties into the pan to get full contact, creating a caramelized crust. Cook for 3–4 minutes per side for a medium rare burger. Top each patty with cheese (optional) after flipping the patty. Alternatively, these patties can be grilled on either a preheated wood or gas BBQ.

While the patties are cooking, toast the buns, if desired, then spread Oaxacan Secret Sauce on the top and bottom of each half. On the bottom bun, add the lettuce. On the top bun, add a caramelized red onion ring. Place the cooked patty onto the lettuce and top with the onion bun. Serve!

As with any burger, topping variations abound. Sauté crimini mushrooms in olive oil and fresh garlic until brown, add cooked bacon and guacamole, or top with a slice of Oaxacan, Colby, cheddar, or pepper jack cheese.

Oaxacan Secret Sauce
Playing with the base ingredients of a fry sauce or a Russian dressing, Oaxacan Mole becomes the focal point in this savory and spicy combination.

Makes: 4 ounces

Ingredients
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1–2 tbsp Nor Cal Mole from Eat Beer Hot Sauce

Directions
In a small bowl or a cup-size canning jar, mix the mayonnaise, tomato paste, brown sugar, and Nor Cal Mole Hot Sauce. The heat will be there, yet lightly muted. By using this special sauce on a rich, caramelized burger, the combination of ingredients allows the Mexican umami to play on the palate.

Variations
• Try Oaxacan Secret Sauce as a dip for fries, hash browns, roasted potatoes, or onion rings.
• Make a Mexican-style Reuben with Swiss cheese, pastrami, and fermented vegetables like kimchi, carrots, fennel, or sauerkraut on a torta-style bun. 

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