Mole is one of Mexico’s most iconic dishes. It is a savoury concoction of dried chilies, seeds, nuts, tortillas, stock, fruits, herbs, spices, chocolate and tons of other ingredients, amounting to up to 60 ingredients sometimes! It is a complicated dish worth every bit of the effort. This smooth, thick and fragrant sauce is moreish, sexy, delicious and positively addictive.
This Mole sauce is very versatile. It keeps in the fridge inside an airtight container for about a week. When reheating, add some water to prevent the sauce from getting too thick. Use it to eat as you would a curry, or to make Enmoladas (a mole flavoured enchilada); it is perfect to make a Pastel Azteca (a sort of mole flavoured lasagne using corn tortillas instead of pasta) or to pour over fried eggs for Huevos con Mole. It also works as a great filling for tamales too!
For the stock:
4 chicken legs (thigh included)
5g garlic cloves, Peeled
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon table salt
2½ litres Water
For the Mole Paste:
25g Pasilla chilies (see notes below)
50g Ancho chilies (see note below)
3 tablespoons pork lard (or Sunflower Oil)
40g bread roll, torn into 4 or 5 pieces
2 mini yellow corn tortillas, cut in quarters
100g onion, sliced
100g ripe plantain, sliced (see notes below)
1 tablespoon of reserved chili seeds (see notes below)
25g sesame seeds
25g shelled pumpkin seeds
2 allspice berries, whole
4 black pepper corns, whole
5g Mexican cinnamon (see notes below)
75g Mexican chocolate (see notes below)
1 teaspoon Maldon salt
3-4 cups of reserved stock liquid from above
1 extra tablespoon of pork lard (or sunflower oil) for frying the sauce
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
Mexican Red Rice (recipe here)
First, make a chicken stock:
- Place all ingredients for the stock in a suitable pot and turn the heat to high. Bring to the boil and lower heat to medium low. Simmer partly cover for an hour. When the stock is done, leave the chicken in it until you need to use it and make sure you keep all the stock as you’ll need it for the mole paste!
- Put the reserved, oily pan on the hob again at medium heat. Add a tablespoon of lard or oil to it and heat it through. Pour the contents of the blender into it and using a wooden spoon, stir constantly. Mole sauce thickens as you heat it, so you might need to add an extra cup or two of chicken stock liquid to the sauce. Initially, the colour of the sauce is a red-ish brown. If you taste it, it would be raw and even a little bitter, this is because most ingredients are not fully cooked yet and the flavours need to develop longer. Keep the heat at medium low and add extra liquid if you feel the sauce is thickening too much. If you run out of chicken stock liquid, boiled water would be fine at this point too. As you cook the sauce, you will notice the colour getting a deeper shade of red with a nice shine to it. Stop cooking after 25 minutes and taste to adjust seasoning.
- When you’re happy with it, put the poached chicken legs on plates and covered them with the piping hot mole sauce. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and serve it with a portion of Mexican Red Rice.
While the stock is cooking, make the Mole Sauce:
- Begin by cleaning your chilies. Take out the stems and discard them. With scissors, open the chilies in half and empty all the seeds and veins into a bowl. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the seeds for later and discard the rest.
- Put the cleaned chilies in a pot with 1 litre of fresh water. Turn the heat to high and bring it to the boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the chilies for 10 minutes. Leave them in the water to cool down while you work with the rest of the steps.
- Heat the pork lard / oil in a large, deep, non-stick pan, on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the pieces of bread, corn tortillas, garlic cloves, onion slices and plantain slices and gently fry these ingredients for about five minutes, stirring occasionally so all sides are fried. Tortillas need to be crispy, the garlic cloves blistered, and the bread toasted. Onions would be soft and slightly caramelised and the plantain slices should turn a brighter shade of yellow. Transfer the fried ingredients to your blender or food processor and set aside.
- Return the oily pan to the heat and add the reserved seeds from the chilies, the sesame seeds, the pumpkin seeds, the allspice berries, the peppercorns and the cinnamon. Keep the heat at medium while you gently fry these ingredients for about three to four minutes, stirring gently every now and then. You’ll be able to smell the spices by then and the seeds will be shiny and toasted. Once they’re done, transfer them to the blender or food processor where the other batch of ingredients are and set aside. Do not wash the pan, set it aside as you will be cooking the mole in it.
- Drain the rehydrated chilies of all water and transfer the chilies to the blender/food processor too. Follow by adding the chocolate roughly chopped and the salt.
- Take the chicken legs out of the stock and put them on a plate for later.
- It is now time to blend the sauce. Add at least three cups of the chicken stock to the blender/food processor and blend well. This sauce is not an easy blend, we want it as smooth as possible, so if you need more stock to aid the blending process by all means use it; there is not such a thing as too much stock! Once you’re happy that all ingredients have been blended and you have a uniformly thick-ish sauce with a little bit of nutty texture to it, the paste is done.
Mole Poblano Notes
- Make sure you weigh the dried chilies with stems and seeds on for this recipe. Once they’re weighed, then you can clean them and take the seeds out, but make sure to reserve those seeds as you’ll need some for the recipe!
- Plantains can be easily bought in any Middle Eastern shop. If you can’t get it, substitute with 40 grams of organic jumbo sultanas. Flavour would change slightly, but it will still work.
- Mexican Canela or cinnamon is absolutely delicious and different to the one you get in regular shops. It’s softer, more fragrant and it makes a difference!
- Mexican drinking chocolate is VERY different to the regular chocolate found in Ireland. It is made by grinding sugar, almonds and toasted coco beans; it is hard, grainy and rich.