mole negro – i freaking did it!
My love of mole negro knows no bounds. If it’s on a menu, it’s in my mouth. I know how lengthy the preparation is and how uniquely and lovingly each recipe is curated, so I just can’t pass it up – ever.
While this 24-ingredient sauce was a little intimidating to take on, I had my heart set on at least attempting it at home, as I’ve set a couple of goals for recipe makin’. Number 1 is to push myself a bit in terms of complexity of a dish (hello, mole!) and numero dos is practically the complete opposite in that I’d like to also challenge myself to create quick but delicious meals that are easy to whip up on a weeknight. How’s that for range? 😉 These are honestly the two kinds of recipes I’m usually looking for – inspirational, maybe intense to attempt but worth the effort, and quick + yummy. Dig it? Hope so!
So as a first go of something a tad out of my norm, I give you mole! And while I had a few hiccups along the way I had an absolute blast making this dish – and y’all the flavor was ON POINT.
So without further ado, let’s get on to this yummy dish!
8 dried mulato chiles
8 dried pasilla chiles
4 dried cascabel chiles
1 medium white onion, quartered
1/2 small head of garlic, cloves separated
2 heaping tbs almonds
2 tbs shelled and skinned raw peanuts
1 inch Mexican cinnamon
3 black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
2 tbs oil
1 1/2 tsp raisins
1 slice of bread, preferably challah or an egg bread
1 small ripe plantain, cut into ½-inch slices (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 pound (1 medium-large round or 4 to 5 plum) ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/4 pound (2 to 3 medium) fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into chunks
1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried
1 sprig Mexican oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
5 generous cups chicken stock (will make below)
2 tbs lard or oil
6 ounces Mexican chocolate
For Stock + Chicken:
3 bone in chicken breasts
10 cups water
1 head of garlic
4 sprigs thyme
shredded chicken from 3 chicken breasts
bunch of cilantro
I have pretty much one way to cook shredded chicken, as it lends to super moist chicken that creates a great stock. Simply place the three chicken breasts in a large dutch oven with one head of garlic sliced through the equator, the thyme and peppercorns and cover with at least 10 cups of water or until the chicken is fully submerged. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for an hour and a half. Remove the chicken, let cool for a few, then shred and set aside until ready to douse in the mole. Strain the stock and reserve for the mole.
To start the sauce, rinse the chiles in running water, and remove all stems, veins and seeds. Reserve the seeds. Heat 2 quarts of water in a kettle or on the stove top at medium heat, set aside. In a large frying pan, toast the chiles over medium heat, turning them until black, but not burnt, about 10 minutes.
I burnt my first batch! D’oh! So really, really keep an eye on these. If they’re blackening in less time, that’s fine. Don’t over do it.
Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with the hot water to soak for 30 minutes.
When the chiles are soft, remove the chiles from the soaking water with tongs – SAVE THE WATER, placing small batches in a blender with ½ cup of the chile soaking water (or more if needed) and blend until smooth. Pass the chile puree through a food mill or strainer.
In the same dry griddle or frying pan, roast the onion and garlic over medium heat for 10 minutes, then set aside. Toast the almonds, peanuts, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and cloves in the same pan for about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and also set aside.
Over the same heat, toast the chile seeds, taking care to blacken but not burn them, about 30 minutes. Try to do this outside or in a well-ventilated place because the seeds will give off very strong fumes. When they are completely black, light them with a match, or give a quick hit of a kitchen cooking torch and let them burn themselves out. Remove these from the heat and place in a bowl. Soak the blackened seeds in 1 cup of cold water for 10 minutes. Then drain the seeds and cover them with more water. Let them soak another 15 minutes more, then strain them. Grind them in a blender for about 2 minutes with ½ cup of water. Strain them through a medium-mesh strainer. Add the blended chile seeds to the blended chile mixture.
Heat 3 tbs of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the raisins and fry them until they are plump, approximately 1 minute. Remove from the pan. Next, fry the bread slices in the same oil until browned, about 5 minutes; remove from pan. Fry the plantain in the same oil until it is well-browned, approximately 10 minutes, and set aside.
In a separate frying pan, heat 2 tbs oil and fry the sesame seeds, stirring constantly over low heat, adding salt if they start jumping around too much. When the sesame seeds start to brown, after about 5 minutes, add the pecans and brown 2 minutes more. Remove all from the pan, let cool, and grind finely in a spice grinder or a powerful blender with ½ cup stock. The spice grinder takes a bit of time, but this is the only way to grind the seeds and nuts finely enough. The mixture should be very smooth.
Wipe out the frying pan and fry the tomatoes, tomatillos, thyme and oregano, over medium to high heat, allowing the juices to almost evaporate, about 15 minutes. Blend well, using ½ cup stock if needed to blend and set aside.
In the blender, in small batches if necessary, place the nuts, bread, plantains, raisins, onion, garlic and spices. Blend well, adding about 1 cup chicken stock to make it smooth.
In a large stock pot, heat 2 tbs of lard or oil until smoking and fry the chile paste over medium to low heat, stirring constantly so it will not burn, approximately 20 minutes. When it is “bubbling furiously,” add the tomato puree and fry until the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Add the ground ingredients, including the sesame seed paste, to the pot. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until well incorporated, about 20 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock, stir well, and allow to cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Break up the chocolate and add to the pot, stirring until it is melted and incorporated into the mixture.
Slowly add more stock to the sauce—it will keep thickening as it cooks. Continue to cook for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Add stock as it thickens. The more time it has to cook the better. There should be no gritty texture (from the seeds), which will cook out over time. Add enough salt to bring out the flavors. If you can only taste the chiles, you need more salt. The mole should not be thick, just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
To serve I simply mixed a serving of the shredded chicken with some of the mole until it was well coated. Then I served with chips, tortillas, radishes and cilantro to just combine and layer as I saw fit! Honestly, it’s pretty tasty just straight up on a fork, but you do you!
I’m already looking forward to making this again, perhaps a mole dinner party should be in the works…
Happy eating y’all!