Mole sauce

Olé for molé!

Originally appeared in the May 3, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

With Cinco de Mayo approaching this weekend, you could pay a friendly visit to your local Mexican restaurant, order up some fine cuisine and a sweet-and-salty margarita.  Or you could procure some fine ingredients, carve out some kitchen time, and produce a classic Mexican dish on your own.

The often erroneous assumption is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day (which is actually September 16).  Rather, it’s an observance of the Mexican military’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla.  And one of the most esteemed recipes is in Puebla is molé.

Molé (pronounced mo-lay) is a complicated concoction.  Likely, the one most Americans recognize would be molé poblano, an aromatic mixture of (to name a few ingredients) chiles, spices, nuts, and chocolate.  Another popular sauce is molé verde, made with pumpkin seeds and tomatillos.  This particular interpretation has been adapted from a recipe found in the third edition of On Cooking (2003).

And I won’t skirt the issue:  This sauce takes a little work.  But like most gastronomic tasks that require time and attention, you (and your hungry amigos) will be richly rewarded.  Happy Cinco de Mayo, dear reader, and viva Mexico!

Molé sauce

Yields 1 pint

  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 guajillo chile
  • 1 pasilla chile
  • 2 ounces sesame seeds
  • 3 ounces pumpkin seeds
  • ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • ½ onion
  • As needed, olive oil
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 spring fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • To taste, salt
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped.

1.  Grind cinnamon and allspice in spice grinder.  Stem and seed guajillo and pasilla chiles.  Break into small pieces and simmer in water for 15 minutes.  Drain well.

2.  Combine sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and cumin seeds and fry them in a dry sauté pan until well toasted; reserve.  Slice onion to ½-inch thick.  Sauté in pan until well colored; reserve.  Add tomatoes to sauté pan and allow to char slightly.  Remove blistered skin and chop cores.

3.  Combine cinnamon and allspice with chiles, toasted seeds, onion, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, oregano and chicken stock in a saucepan.  Season with salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool, and remove sprig of thyme.

4.  Blend mixture in a blender until smooth.  Strain through china cap (or strainer with cheesecloth) and stir in chocolate until melted.  Adjust seasonings.

5.  Serve mole over grilled chicken, turkey, duck, quail or a meat such as pork or rabbit.




Published in: on May 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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