Chris and I made a big batch of traditional Mexican Teloloapan Red Mole sauce (pronounced mo-lay) on Labor Day. The process took 5-1/2 hours. There are many different kinds of Mole, including Mole Poblano, and many different recipes to choose from. I tried Mole for the first time four years ago in Chicago. The cook was from Mexico, and her mole was amazing. Chris had tried mole before at Jalapeño’s in Pontiac, and he was amped. We decided then that we had to make it. Well, we did make it about a year ago, and it was awesome. Took us two days. This time around, it took us less time, and we seem to have it down to a science. And when I say science, I mean science. Homemade Mole is like one giant chemical equation, one giant scientific, kitchenific experiment. It is definitely a process, and that’s just to make the sauce, let alone use the sauce in dishes like tacos and enchiladas.
The recipe we used is from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen. Bayless is a great chef who has spent a great deal of time in Mexico; He really knows the ins and outs of Mexican cuisine. For an experienced chef, I’m sure Bayless can manage to make Mole by himself, but for the rest of us, this recipe takes two people. If you’re going to attempt to do this, please make sure you have (and are yourself) a patient, organized and meticulous cooking partner. This is by far the most complicated dish I’ve ever made. On to the ingredients:
16 medium (about 8 ounces total) dried ancho chiles
22 medium (about 5-1/2 ounces total) dried guajillo chiles
1/3 cup (about 1-1/2 ounces) sesame seeds (I omitted these due to an allergy)
1 small avocado leaf (or 1 teaspoon aniseed) (This is where my avocado trees came in handy!)
3 bay leaves
About 1-1/2 inches cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela (you’ll need enough to yield about 1-1/2 teaspoons ground)
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
A heaping 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/3 teaspoon whole cloves
The pit from 1 avocado
2 slices dry firm white bread (or 1/2 dry Mexican bolillo roll, sliced 1/2 inch thick)
2 stale corn tortillas
2 cups rich-tasting lard or vegetable oil (you need this much for effective frying; not all goes into the sauce)
1/3 cup unskinned almonds
1/3 cup unskinned or Spanish peanuts
1/3 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup raisins
1 medium white onion, sliced
9 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large (about 5 ounces total) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into quarters
1 medium-large (8-ounce) tomato, cut into quarters
7 to 8 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 scant cup (about 5 ounces) finely chopped Mexican chocolate (That’s right. Chocolate.)
Salt, about 3 tablespoons, depending on the saltiness of the broth
Sugar, about 1/3 cup
This recipe is no joke. It’s three pages long. Once you gather everything, mash it all together and fry it. Puree. Strain. Puree again. Strain again. Let it simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. You’ll know you’re doing it right if you’ve used every bowl, spoon and spatula in your kitchen, had to do dishes halfway through, and used them all again. The actual recipe is much more in depth than this, of course. You pretty much have to buy the book to get it right. However, here’s another version, also from Rick Bayless. By combining the ingredients from my list here and the instructions from this link, you too can make a beautiful, flavorful, multifaceted sauce which can be used with meat and vegetables, tacos, enchiladas and even simply poured over rice.
When we made this sauce a year ago, we seared turkey breasts with a little oil in a hot skillet before putting them in a slow-cooker with some Mole sauce for 8 hours. Once the meat was cooked and full of flavor, we put the pulled turkey in tacos and over rice. This time around, we made veggie Mole enchiladas with corn tortillas, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, and queso.
Homemade Mole is a lot of fun to make. The sauce is rich in flavor and unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. A few tips: Make sure you have a fan blowing out your kitchen window. Do not inhale deeply when cooking with these peppers. Wash your hands frequently and do not touch your eyes. Mole sauce can be stored in air-tight containers and kept in the freezer for up to a year.
If you don’t want to make your own homemade mole, come over for dinner some time. We do love to cook.