March 25, 2010 10:00 PM
Mole Poblano: Yes You Can!
POSTED IN: Recipes , Main Courses
TAGS: Black pepper , bread , chiles , chocolate , Cinnamon , Clove , cloves , Coriander , Garlic , garlic , Mexican cuisine , Mexico , Mole , Mole Poblano , Onion , onion , peppercorns , poblano , Sesame , Sesame Seeds , Spice , Stock , Tomato
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The showcase of last week's class was one of Mexico's most famous and delicious moles, the Poblano, which originated in the kitchen of the Convent of Santa Rosa, in Puebla. After seeing how much guests enjoyed it, I can't wait to share it with you.

I know, the word Mole sounds exciting to eat yet intimidating to prepare. As the root of the word describes, from the náhuatl mulli, Mole is a thick sauce or paste made by grinding ingredients together in a molcajete or communal mill. A food processor works as well. This sauce can be thinned out with broth or water when ready to use.

The Poblano with its long ingredients list and its laborious process, is not the best way to introduce Moles. There are some simple Moles with no more than 4 or 5 ingredients that are easier to prepare and just as tasty.

But here I am! I adore the Poblano and I know you will too...

I tested many ways to find the easiest route to make it without compromising its authenticity and flavor. As long as you prep your ingredients and have them in place before you start throwing them in the pot -what the French call Mise en Place and Mexicans Estate Listo!-, it's a manageable task that takes about an hour. Trust me. Here we go.

As I list the ingredients, we'll go through some Mole basics...

Four chiles are typically used: The reddish Ancho (6 o'clock) with bittersweet and fruity flavors; the black Mulato (12 o'clock) with much sweeter, chocolaty and fuller tones; the raisin colored Pasilla (3 o'clock) with a deep, strong and bitter bite; and the tobacco looking Chipotle (9 o'clock) smoky, rich and spicy.

Mole poblano dried chiles.jpgTo be worthy of the name Mole, its not enough to be a sauce. You need chiles in there, but adding a Jalapeño doesn't make it a Mole. Some chiles work together and some don't. Some work for certain kinds of moles and some don't. This group of four, is like the Fantastic Four. 

The Mole Poblano has the deep clean flavors from the white onion, a judicious use of the pungent garlic, the refreshing punch from the tomato and the tartness of the tomatillo.

Mole 3.jpg
Moles show a deep intermarriage between the native Mexican cuisine and that brought from Spain. Three centuries of Colonial life deeply influenced our food. That's the case of the onion, garlic and many of the nuts, fruits and spices added below.

Native peanuts and pumpkin seeds which are present as a thickener and flavoring element in many Mexican dishes, add some Mediterranean almonds, a bunch of sweet raisins...

Mole 5.jpg
Chile seeds tend to be discarded in many Mexican dishes, but not in this Baroque concoction from the late 1600s. Seeds do store most of the heat from chiles but also a ton of their flavor.

They are beautiful too, especially in my grandmother's bowl which photographs so nicely...

Mole 4.jpgOther seeds and spices included take a ride through Mexico's history: Sesame seeds brought by African slaves; anise seeds, cloves, cinnamon and black peppercorns from the Orient routes; allspice from the Caribbean; coriander, thyme and marjoram from the Mediterranean...

Mole 7 c.jpg
To thicken the Mole and to add an earthy base with a small town flavor, corn tortillas are used. As well as Mexican style bread -bolillos or teleras which are the Mexican adaptation of the French baguette from the times of Maximilian. 

Mole 8.jpg
To top the balancing act of this dish, and also because it was created by Sor Andrea de la Asunción, a nun with an incredible sweet tooth, Mexican chocolate is added. Made with toasted cacao, cinnamon, sugar and typically ground almonds, it is sweeter and grainier than regular bittersweet chocolate.

Not that much chocolate is added though, so the idea that the Mole Poblano is a chocolate sauce is a bit exaggerated...

Mole Mexican Choclate.jpg
Now that we ran through the ingredients, let's cook it. As we do, you will see that another Mole quality is that ingredients are transformed, and their qualities brought out, before they are pureed together. That helps achieve such a smooth layering of complex flavors. 

First add lard, vegetable shortening or oil in your pot. Once hot, saute the chiles until crunchy and browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. They will look something like this...

Fried chiles.jpg
In that same pot add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Mole 6.jpgMake some room and toss in the almonds, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes more...

Some versions of this mole ask that ingredients be charred, broiled, toasted, sauteed, ground one by one, even with different pots and pans. But you can use the same pot as long as it is heavy, large and extended and as long as you give the ingredients enough time before adding the next batch...

So, make some room again to throw in those beautiful reserved chile seeds... AND...  

after pumpkin seeds.jpg
...sesame seeds,stemmed cloves, anise seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, ground allspice, thyme and marjoram. Let it all cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Make some room again, and add the already charred or broiled tomatoes and tomatillos, the sliced tortillas and bread...

Mole 9.jpg
As you add each additional batch of ingredients, give them time to season and brown together. Don't let any of them burn though...

Go ahead and add the chiles that you already browned, and mix it all up.

after bread and spices.jpg

Pour in some rich tasting chicken broth.

Mole 10 a.jpgOnce it starts to simmer, drop in the chocolate pieces and stir until they dissolve.

Look at the gorgeous looking mess that we have here below!!!

mole with steam.jpg
Let it all simmer for about 15 minutes. You have quite a diverse group of ingredients in there, so they need a bit of time to get acquainted with each other...

Mole 11.jpg
Turn off the heat and let the mixture stand, so it can make sense of what it will become.

Then, puree in a food processor or blender. Or why not, if you feel like it, take out that molcajete.

Finally, thank Sor Andrea for what you are about to see!!! The tastiest, yummiest... 

Mole 12.jpg
Let's just say: one of my favorite Moles.

Of the many things you can make with this mole such as enchiladas, enmoladas, empanadas, eggs, nopales or potatoes.. there's of course the traditional: poured over simply boiled chicken or turkey and covered with lightly toasted sesame seeds.

Mole 13.jpg
You can see why I took longer to post this time: I was too busy adding ingredients to the basics section of my blog, just for this recipe!

Adapted from Sor Andrea de la Asunción from the Santa Rosa Convent
Serves 24-25

1/2 cup lard, vegetable shortening or vegetable oil
(reserve the seeds from all chiles)
3 oz chiles anchos, about 6 or 7, stemmed and seeded
3 oz chiles pasillas, about 12 or 13, stemmed and seeded
3 oz chiles mulatos, about 6, stemmed and seeded
1/3 oz dried chipotle chiles, about 4, stemmed and seeded
1/2 white onion, about 1/2 pound, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons raw almonds with skin
3 tablespoons raw shelled peanuts
3 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup reserved chile seeds
5 whole cloves, stemmed
1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 stick true or ceylon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoondried marjoram
1/2 lb roma tomatoes, about 2 , charred or roasted
1/3 lb tomatillos, about 2, husked, rinsed, charred/roasted
2 corn tortillas, sliced in 8 pieces
1/2 bolillo, telera or baguette, about 2 oz, thickly sliced (if it is a couple days old, better)
6 oz Mexican style chocolate or bittersweet chocolate
5 cups chicken broth(plus 4 more cups to dilute later on)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted, to sprinkle at the end

In a large extended casserole dish set over medium high heat, add 1/2 cup lard, oil, or vegetable shortening. Once hot, about 2 minutes later, add the chiles in 2 or 3 batches and saute, stirring often, and being careful not to let them completely burn. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a mixing bowl as you move along.

In the same oil, add chopped onion and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until they soften and release their aroma. Stir in the almonds, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds, and let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the sesame seeds, reserved chile seeds, stemmed cloves, anise seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, ground allspice, thyme and marjoram. Stir frequently and let it all cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, stirring often. Make room again, and add the tortilla and bread pieces along with the tomatoes and tomatillos. Let it all cook for a couple minutes.

Incorporate the already sauteed chiles and pour in the chicken broth. Stir and once it comes to a simmer, add the chocolate pieces and the salt. Mix well, and let it simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let the mix rest for 1/2 hour, so the chiles can completely soften.

In batches, puree the mixture in the blender or food processor until smooth. You can store this mole, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a month, or freeze it for up to a year.

When ready to eat, dilute a cup of mole with 1/2 cup chicken broth in a saucepan and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve over cooked chicken or turkey and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds on top.
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I love the photos. They are so beautiful . . . I feel like I just ate all the mole and crusty bread and pepitas and . . .

Love the entry, beautifully written--the fabulous four--I only have three, got to get the fourth!!!

Tamara Belt | March 26, 2010 9:43 AM

Thank you Tamara! Give it a shot! This recipe will make enough for many, many meals.... Sauce keeps beautifully in refrigerator and freezer too...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Tamara Belt | March 26, 2010 9:49 AM

This mole is so beautiful to look at and with a little prep, not too difficult to make. Thanks.

Debra Eichenbaum | March 26, 2010 11:44 AM

Here's a very gringo question... why is it called mole Poblano when it doesn't use any Poblano chilis?

Debra Eichenbaum | March 26, 2010 1:49 PM

WOW. I LOVE mole, but have always been to afraid to try making it. Now, despite the staggering number of ingredients, I think I am brave enough to try! You make it seem (dare I say it?) EASY! Thank you for taking the time to write this post Pati!

Fuji Mama | March 26, 2010 3:11 PM

Hi Debra,
It is a great question! It is called Poblano because it originated in the state of Puebla, people from Puebla and anything that relates to having an origin from Puebla is called Poblano or Poblana.... Aside from the Poblano chiles!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Debra Eichenbaum | March 26, 2010 5:01 PM

My pleasure!! So glad it was worth the number of photos.....(have to take some classes on photography). As long as you gather all your ingredients beforehand and have them ready before you turn the fire on, it is really manageable... give it a try!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Fuji Mama | March 26, 2010 5:08 PM

Yum! As a witness to the preparation of this thing, I know it is awesome. Thanks, Pati!

Moni | March 29, 2010 12:56 AM

So glad you liked it Moni!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Moni | March 29, 2010 11:56 AM

Oh My- MOLE is my absolute fav, but something I have not attempted at home... bookmarking and making!! Thanks~

TangoKarnitz | April 23, 2010 5:13 PM

So glad!!! Do give it a try... recipe makes for a huge batch, that you can then refrigerate or freeze for future occasions. Enjoy!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from TangoKarnitz | April 23, 2010 8:13 PM

I can't wait to try this recipe! Mole always seemed like that one impossible friends will just LOVE this.

Sue-Jean Chun | May 4, 2010 10:25 AM

You go Sue-Jean!!! Give it a try, and let me know how it turned out...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Sue-Jean Chun | May 4, 2010 9:01 PM

Se me hace la boca agua... me ha encantado tu blog, la presentación, las recetas, las entrevistas, las fotos y lo que escribes.
Algún día intentaré hacer mole Poblano, es mi plato favorito!
Un beso

Dana | May 26, 2010 10:00 PM

Muchas gracias Dana!! Me encantó recibir tu mensaje!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Dana | May 27, 2010 10:11 AM

Hola Pati!!!

Me encanta tu blog, las fotos, los comentarios, las entrevistas y sobre todo las recetas!!
A ver si me animo algún día a preparar mole poblano, es mi plato favorito...
Un beso muy fuerte,

Dana | May 28, 2010 9:42 AM

Every year, since I left L.A., beloved by me in large part for all the amazing comida mexicana, I swear I am going to roll up my sleeves and make a pot of mole for a big party. I even found chihuacle (sp?) chiles in Montreal this spring, which Rick Bayless calls for in his mole negro recipe. But now, thanks to you, I swear I am going to make this a reality. I get amazing chickens, lovingly raised by my neighbor, with incredible flavor: the next ones, I swear, will be wearing this sauce. I promise to send a full report.

Paige Orloff | July 13, 2010 11:51 PM

Dearest Paige,
Make the Mole Party and send me a full report! Can't wait to hear aaaaaaaall about it!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Paige Orloff | July 14, 2010 6:41 PM

I have a question regarding the use of the dried peppers - I have used them before in a fabulous enchilada sauce - but I noticed a bit of grit in the final sauce - like very fine sand. I can only conclude that it came from the dried peppers. Since then, I rinse the dried peppers (inside and out) under water before using them - no more grit.
Have you had this experience?
PS - love your site!

Jane | July 17, 2010 4:21 PM

Hi Jane,
Dried chiles can be used in so many ways. For some recipes they are first toasted and then simmered, in others they are rinsed and then simmered... I haven't had that experience with the grit in the final sauce... Many thanks for your lovely comments!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Jane | July 17, 2010 7:18 PM

I've had spicy mole sauce from 2 different places, my latin american studies professor in college, and a taqueria off my muni line that closed years ago. Both were very spicy, which is what I'm looking for. Does this recipe have the kick, and if not, what can I do to turn up the heat?
Thank you,.

New Cook | August 9, 2010 5:17 PM

This recipe definitely has a great kick to it. However, it is not terribly spicy. If you want it very, very spicy, add more of the seeds from the dried chiles. That will do it!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from New Cook | August 9, 2010 5:29 PM

Just a clarification. You mention "ancho" chile, but you show a picture of the dried version of the ancho called "poblano" chile. Also, you say not to add "jalapeno" but the dried version of a jalapeno is the "chipotle". My grandmother taught me how to make this recipe over 40 years ago and I must admit yours is very close and so very authentic. She was from "Aguascalientes" Mexico and only used dried versions of all her chiles. The dried versions often have slightly different flavors than the fresh version. Thank you for sharing your beautiful recipe. This is one of my comfort foods and never fails to bring me back to my childhood. Thank you!

Diana | November 13, 2010 3:07 PM

Hi there Diana!
The Poblano chile is the name that chile gets when it is Fresh. Once it is dried it goes by the name Ancho. Same with the Jalapeño, that's the name that chile gets when it is fresh; once it is dried it is called Chipotle. The Jalapeño, when fresh, tastes completely different then when its dried and turned into a Chipotle. I also only use the dried chiles for the Mole!
Hope you enjoy the recipe!!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Diana | November 16, 2010 9:34 AM

Hi Pati,
I made this wonderful Mole' for Thanksgiving. It turned out wonderful and it was enjoyed by my company. But, in your instructions you missed the step from the Roma tomatoes to the bread. It wasn't until I added the broth and chocolate that I noticed them sitting on my counter. I ended up just through them into the pot after looking at the helpful pictures above. Can you please explain how this process was suppose to go.

Kristy | December 3, 2010 12:31 PM

So glad you liked it! Its in there now...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Kristy | December 3, 2010 6:03 PM

I made this last night! It went straight to the freezer (I had to cancel the event I planned to serve it at, but had the ingredients so figured I might as well). It tasted and smelled so good, I could not believe I actually made it myself. Thank you for such a clear and encouraging recipe! Can't wait to really eat it and share it with friends.

Elizabeth | December 14, 2010 11:26 AM

Hi Elizabeth,
I am so glad! You can use it as a sauce with chicken or meat or even veggies... And you can also use it to make Enchiladas! Just shred and heat some chicken, heat some corn tortillas, dip them in the mole, stuff the tortillas with the chicken, fold them and then cover the whole thing with fresh cream and crumbled cheese...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Elizabeth | December 19, 2010 4:42 PM

Hi Pati,

I looked all over for a mole poblano recipe that didn't look too difficult for a beginner and here it is!
I made it this evening and I think it tasted and smelled wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time to perfect and post this recipe.
I enjoy your blog. All the best.

Melissa | December 31, 2010 1:36 AM

Hi Melissa,
Many thanks and enjoy that Mole!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Melissa | January 2, 2011 12:18 PM

Is this mole a sweet one? I do not care for sweet moles.

dora | April 9, 2011 7:59 PM

Hello Pati,
I just found your program this last weekend on PBS, and was I happy! So glad you are there. I have a question concerning the chiles. I live in Northern California, (really) North of Sacramento, and in my area I can find the Ancho, & the Pasillas dried chiles, but I am sure I have never run across a Mulatos Chiles. Is there another similar or a different name for that particular chile?
Thank you, Shawn

Shawn | May 11, 2011 7:19 PM

Hola Shawn,
Here is a link to more info on ancho chiles :
Here is a link to more info on mulato chiles:
If you can't find mulato chiles near you, you can always order them online, or for this recipe, it is fine to use more ancho chiles in place of the mulatos, they should be just as yummy here!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Shawn | May 13, 2011 12:13 PM

Hello! I made this mole recipe today and was having a little bit of trouble with the final taste.
I feel like I taste too much of the dried peppers and the bittersweet chocolate I used is way too...well bitter. Any suggestions?

diana | May 16, 2011 4:23 PM

Hey Pati! I just recently saw one of your shows for the first time and I loved it. I'm from El Salvador and my husband is from Mexico, and I really don't know much about how to make any Mexican dishes. After I saw your show, I tried out the poached eggs in salsa. He loved it! He said it reminded him of "home." Thanks for making the recipes easy(and delicious)so now I can make him dinner and my husband can enjoy some of his food!

Stacy | May 25, 2011 1:41 PM

Hola Pati! I just love your show but discovered it while in a cast for a broken thumb. This is going to be the first thing I make when my cast comes off, I can't wait! In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the next episode.

Cheers, Mark

Mark | June 17, 2011 10:06 PM

Love your Tv show and website Pati! Would love to meet you up here in Canada! I love to cook Mexican and was happy to stumble on your tv show and website what wonderful recipes. I would love to make some of your recipes but dried chiles are mostly only available up here in Canada. Was wondering for example to make mole if i could use dried chiles and just reconstitute them to make your recipes. Or do you use dried chilies? Let me know. Can't wait until you finish your book; i will be in line to buy it!

Gail | July 20, 2011 1:19 AM

Thanks so much for sharing!

Marianela Neuhauser | July 26, 2011 12:42 PM

Thank you for such a great Mole recipe. What a fabulous concoction of deliciousness. I may actually try to tackle this intimidating dish only because you have put it together so nicely. Good job!!!

Maulana | August 27, 2011 6:05 PM

Don't be intimidated Maulana. You can do it!!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Maulana | August 28, 2011 9:28 PM

Hi Pati,

I used this recipe to make mole for the first time a couple days ago and it's incredible! Thanks for your great photos and description, it made me excited and confident enough to try it. It is so rich and complex, I can understand why it has such a distinguished reputation. It's worth the effort, however, and I will be making it again.

I used lard for cooking the chiles, and left out the chipotle and allspice, and used Mexican oregano instead of the thyme and marjoram. I also toasted and ground the spices separately to ensure a smoother texture. The grit someone mentioned may have been bits of cinnamon or peppercorns that didn't get blended enough?

Another commenter noted that it tasted bitter, and I had the same experience. I was expecting something sweeter, and I was worried that I had overcooked the chiles, they looked a bit black in places. It doesn't take long to fry a dried chile, and you warned me! I was afraid this might have led to the bitterness.

However, after diluting the sauce with stock and adding some boneless skinless chicken thighs, we cooked the whole thing for an hour or so, and it came to life! All the flavors intensified and the color deepened and it turned into one of the yummiest things I've ever tasted. I think restaurants must use sugar to boost their mole's impact. This one is subtly sweet and just slightly bitter. What a sauce!

Thanks, and best of luck with your new show!

Jonathan | May 18, 2012 1:26 AM