There are many moles in Mexico—there are the seven moles of Oaxaca, and then that are fruit, nut, and herb moles. But when you mention mole, most people think of mole Poblano, the dried chile mole with the chocolate in it.
Recipes for authentic mole Poblano can be found in many Mexican cookbooks, and they may contain up to 24 ingredients and daunting techniques. If those recipes aren’t complicated enough, chef Hugo Ortega at Hugo’s roasts his own cocoa beans and grinds his own chocolate for his mole. Mole makers seem to feel that the more arcane they can make the process the better. One Mexican author says that to appreciate mole Poblano, you have to share the Mexican love for the baroque.
Most Mexican home cooks buy ready-made mole paste in a Mexican market. Spec's Downtown Warehouse also sells an excellent bottled brand from Oaxaca. If you want to make your own, but don't have several hours, I suggest you cheat by using tahini, peanut butter and almond butter. Here’s a simplified mole recipe that you can whip up in half a hour, adapted from The Hot Sauce Cookbook. Your friends will be amazed—just go ahead and let them believe that it took all day.
- 2 ancho chiles
- 1 pasilla chile
- 1 guajillo chile
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 onion, sliced
- 2 tomatoes, quartered
- 1 ounce semisweet chocolate pieces
- 1 teaspoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon almond butter
- 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Stem and seed the chiles, tear them up, and put them into a saucepan with the chicken stock over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat and allow the chiles to soak for 10 minutes, or until soft. Remove the chiles and reserve the chicken stock.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, ancho chile, pasilla chile, guajillo chile, chocolate, tahini, almond butter, peanut butter, sugar, and chicken stock. Simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. If the texture is still gritty, return the mole to the blender and puree again.
This is a great chicken enchilada sauce or a simmering sauce for chicken. Tightly sealed, this sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. It makes two cups.