Beware: this recipe takes a long time. But! Good things come to those who wait. If only patience were always rewarded with such a delicious outcome. And while the time investment and ingredient list may seem daunting - this recipe is nearly impossible to mess up. Oh, and those ingredients are totally optional. No two mole recipes are alike and everyone seems to have their own version. Mine is based on Oakacan Mole Negro.. loosely adapted from Saveur, Rick Bayless (you can read his extraordinary, albeit elaborate, version here), and the Mexican restaurant down the street from my house in Austin, Texas.
This recipe greatly benefits from addition of beer. Mole is meant to be rich and complex. A well selected stout will add deep roasted flavors and body to the mole and a mild, but desired, bitterness that’s balanced by the sweetness of the chocolate.
- 2 to 3 cups dark beer, such as a Chocolate or Oatmeal Stout
- 1 to 2 cups chicken stock
- DRIED CHILES - remove stems and seeds
- 4 Chilhuacle (difficult to find - substitute ancho or mulato if needed)
- 2 Chipotles
- 4 California chiles
- 4 Guajillo chiles
- 4 Pasilla chiles
- 1 head garlic, peeled or unpeeled
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup almonds
- ¼ cup walnuts or peanuts or pecans
- ¼ cup pepitas
- 1 stick canela (or cinnamon)
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 2 tbs. cumin
- ½ tsp. dried oregano (or 2 tsp. fresh)
- ½ tsp. dried thyme (or 2 tsp. fresh)
- 1 medium onion
- 4 or 5 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 2 or 3 tomatoes
- 4 ounces (2 rounds) Mexican chocolate
- Apple cider vinegar
- Honey or brown sugar or ground piloncillo
- 4 tortillas, preferably stale
- Salt & pepper
- Vegetable oil
Note: Don’t be afraid to mix and match chiles! If you like it hot.. add a chile de arbol or two. If you prefer a rich earthy raisin flavor.. add raisins. The trick is really to utilize your pantry and taste as you go to adjust for seasonings. Don’t worry if you don’t have Mexican oregano, just add a bit more of the Greek variety. No tomatillos? Add an extra tomato or two or leave it out altogether. You may need a bit more vinegar for acidity, but the sauce won’t suffer.
- Cut the tomatillos, tomatoes, onion, and garlic into quarters. Toss in 2 tbs. vegetable oil, season with salt, and place on a foil lined tray, under the broiler or on the grill.
Allow to cook, only turning once, until soft and well browned. Set aside.
- Toast the chiles in a large, heavy bottomed pan until fragrant and begin to puff, being careful not to burn them. This may need to be done in batches.
- Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Set a dish over the bowl, if needed, to fully submerge the chiles in the boiling water. Allow to soak for 20 minutes.
- Using the same pan, toast the sesame seeds, almonds, nuts, canela/cinnamon stick, and cloves over medium high heat until they begin to brown - stir often.
- Add ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil, remaining spices, and raisins (if using). Once they fragrant and the nuts are golden brown, turn off the heat and set aside.
- Drain the chiles and reserve any excess liquid. Place the chiles and ½ cup reserved (more, if needed) soaking liquid in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth - Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Combine the toasted ingredients with the roasted vegetables in the same food processor or blender as the chiles. Puree until smooth, adding just enough beer or chicken stock to get the mixture moving.
- In a large stockpot, heat ½ cup vegetable oil or fresh lard. Add the roasted and toasted mixture (ignoring the chiles for now) and beer; cook on low at least 45 minutes, up to a couple of hours, stirring every now and again to prevent splattering or burning.
- Add the chile mixture and enough chicken stock to reach desired consistency; stir well, and allow to simmer for an additional 30 to 120 minutes.
- Stir in the chocolate and mix until melted.
- While the chocolate melts, toast the tortillas until they turn black; crumble into the mole.
- Season to taste with sugar (brown sugar, honey, or piloncillo), apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Adjust for spices, as well - cumin, coriander, oregano, etc.
Optional: use a stick blender to further puree the mole.
Pour over roasted duck or pork, go traditional and serve over turkey, add to tamale fillings, or eat with a spoon. This recipes makes A LOT of mole, so I usually freeze most of it for a rainy day (literally - it makes a great black bean & bison chili).
For this particular recipe test, most of the mole found its way into enchiladas de mole. This also meant I killed two birds with one stone - the turkey was braised in half water, half chicken stock (enough to cover) with celery, cilantro, carrots, onions, and garlic.
The turkey made for an amazing enchilada filling while the chicken/turkey stock was used in the actual mole. The best part? I have plenty of stock leftover. And mole. Thank goodness they both freeze well. Top enchiladas with sesame seeds, cotija, crema, and fresh cilantro.
Serve with a crisp, dark beer