The Mexican grocer was my 4th stop in search of the chilies I needed for my Mole recipe. By the time I arrived there, I had already purchased the other 24 ingredients. The shop owner told me “I have a paste, you just add broth. It’s made in Mexico and it is really good”. I replied “I really like to cook, so I want to make it from scratch”. On the third day of my adventure in Mole Sauce, those words from the kind man, kept repeating in my head. Day 1, source and purchase the ingredients. Day 2 prepare the Mole and simmer, simmer, simmer. Day 3, cook the chicken and make the enchiladas! Ole!
I’ve made Mole 4 or 5 times. It is one of my husbands favorites. I adapted my recipe from the book, The Taste of Mexico. I follow the recipe closely, with one or two time saving steps and ingredient changes. I use high heat safflower oil, instead of lard. I roast the chilies all at once in a large pan in the oven. I use store-bought chicken stock. This is a “go big or go home” recipe, that makes about a year’s worth of sauce. I freeze it in quart jars for future enchiladas and tamales.
2 – 3 cups of lard, or oil
5 large white onions
14 cloves plus one head of garlic
3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup raw sesame seeds
3/4 cup raw peanuts
3/4 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup pitted prunes
2 small plantains peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 stale croissant
2 charred tortillas
4 quarts chicken stock
30 chiles mulatos
16 chiles anchos
6 chiles pasillas
2 chiles chipotle
8 ounces Mexican chocolate tablets with cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
Remove the husks and wash the tomatillos. Place on roasting pan with tomatoes, one head of garlic, and one onion. Roast at 375′ for approximately 20 minutes. Cool and chop onion coarsely. Squeeze garlic out of skin. Set aside.
Char the tortillas in a dry skillet. Set aside.
Prepare the chiles. Wash chiles well to remove dust and dirt. Remove stems and seeds. Place on large baking sheet. Spray with oil. Roast chiles until softened, about 15 minutes at 375′. Remove chiles from baking pan, place in large bowl, cover with water and soak at least 20 minutes. Do not drain, leave in bowl until ready to use.
Saute 2 1/2 chopped onions in about 1/4 cup of oil in large, heavy pot. Cook until softened and translucent. Add 8 garlic cloves and sauté a couple more minutes. Add roasted vegetables and cook until combined, about 5 minutes. Remove to bowl and set aside. Return pot to stove.
Add enough oil to coat bottom of pot. Heat over low heat. Add sesame seed, pumpkin seed, almonds and peanuts. Sauté about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add raisins, prunes, plantains, coriander seed, anise and cinnamon. Continue to stir and sauté about 5 more minutes. Add torn tortilla and croissant. Mix well. Remove from heat and add ingredients to bowl with onions, tomatoes, tomatillos and garlic.
Heat a quart of chicken stock on stove or in microwave. Set up your blender. Add the spice mixture to the blender with enough chicken stock to ensure mixture will blend smoothly. Blend long enough to ensure all seeds are broken down. You will need to do this in batches. Add a little oil to the bottom of the cooking pot and place on very low heat. Pour each batch back into the cooking pot.
Simmer on very low heat for about an hour. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Meanwhile, prepare the chiles.
Chop 1 1/2 onions and 6 cloves of garlic. Place the chiles in the blender in batches adding equal amounts of onion and garlic to each batch and adding soaking liquid from the chiles, to blend smoothly. Pour the mixture into a strainer set over a bowl. Repeat this process until all chiles are blended. “Force” the mixture through the strainer with a spoon.
Add the chiles to the spice mixture in small batches, allowing about 10 minutes between each addition.
Coarsely chop the chocolate tablets add to the Mole with the 1/4 cup of sugar. Simmer on very low heat 4 – 6 hours. Since we finished this late in the day, we actually simmered the sauce overnight.
Day 3 – Make the Enchiladas!
You can use any kind of filling you choose. We like chicken with Mole sauce. I boiled a chicken, cooled it and removed the meat from the bones. I added a chopped onion and enough Mole sauce to hold the mixture together. Place a few spoonful’s of meat on each tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down in oiled baking dish.
Cover the enchiladas with additional Mole. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375′ for about 40 minutes. Add Queso Fresco and cilantro before serving.
We served this with homemade black beans and Mexican red rice, and one very large margarita!
The History of Mole*
Most people associate mole with either with Puebla or Oaxaca , but the origin of mole poblano, the thick, rich, chocolate-tinged sauce made so famous in the colonial mountain city of Puebla, Mexico, is still disputed, and generally involves these two versions of the legend:
The first says that 16th Century nuns from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles, upon learning that the Archbishop was coming for a visit, went into a panic because they had nothing to serve him. The nuns started praying desperately and an angel came to inspire them. They began chopping and grinding and roasting, mixing different types of chiles together with spices, day-old bread, nuts, a little chocolate and approximately 20 other ingredients.
This concoction boiled for hours and was reduced to the thick, sweet, rich and fragrant mole sauce we know today. To serve in the mole, they killed the only meat they had, an old turkey, and the strange sauce was poured over it. The archbishop was more than happy with his banquet and the nuns saved face. Little did they know they were creating the Mexican National dish for holidays and feasts, and that today, millions of people worldwide have at least heard of mole poblano.
The other legend states that mole came from pre-Hispanic times and that Aztec king, Moctezuma, thinking the conquistadors were gods, served mole to Cortez at a banquet to receive them. This story probably gained credibility because the word mole comes from the Nahuatl word “milli” which means sauce or “concoction”. Another connection could be that chocolate was widely used in pre-Columbian Mexico, so people jumped to that conclusion.
Diana Kennedy, the famous cookbook author and television chef, adds a third, less plausible version in her book The Cuisines of Mexico, [Harper & Row:New York] 1972, (p.199-200), “This time it was Fray Pascual who was preparing the banquet at the convent where he (the archbishop) was going to eat. Turkeys were cooking in cazuelas on the fire; as Fray Pascual, scolding his assistants for their untidiness, gathered up al the spices they had been using, and putting them together on a tray, a sudden gust of wind swept across the kitchen and they spilled over the cazuelas.” Thus mixing together such an unheard-of combination of ingredients.