Eating “Mole Poblano” at home means a big celebration, a birthday party or a very special day. I learned how to make Mole Poblano more than 25 years ago, from one of my aunts who lives in the historic Puerto de Veracruz, in the state of Veracruz. It requires some preparation and time to cook, but once you make it, believe me, you will not want to buy the “jar version”. Besides, this dish is ideal to make with friends and family for a weekend celebration.
There is an interesting history about the origin of this dish. I found a web site that talks about its history, which you can read here, and the recipe that the government of the State of Puebla has in its web site and claims to be very close to the original, could be found here in this link. The word mole comes from the Náhuatl word “milli” or “molli” which means sauce or “concoction”. There are several types of moles: green mole, yellow mole, Oaxacan-style mole, Mole Xiqueño, Mole de Teloloapan, etc. I can go on for a while telling you about these different and delicious moles, and how some people will use peanuts instead of almonds, or crackers instead of bread, or how some won’t use plantain bananas in their mole, while others will use chipotle peppers to get a hot mole sauce. The mole sauce can be used over turkey, chicken, and even over fry eggs for brunch and for mole enchiladas the next day, since it tastes better when reheated.
This recipe is adapted from Sra. Diana Kennedy in her book “From my Mexican Kitchen” with the addition of plantain and onion. Since I do not use an exact recipe to cook it, I usually grab the ingredients and start cooking adding elements as needed to obtain a concoction of my liking. This is the beauty of cooking mole sauce.
I challenge you to cook your homemade mole. Put on your apron and lets get cooking! You don’t have an apron? I think you should really wear one today.
Makes about 10 servings
For the chicken:
- 1 large chicken cut up in pieces
- About 8 cups of water
- 1 small onion cut up in pieces
- 3 garlic cloves
- salt to taste
For the Sauce;
- 6 mulato peppers
- 4 ancho peppers
- 6 pasilla peppers
- 1 Tablespoon of reserved pepper seeds
- 6 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorn
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon anis seeds
- 3/4 cup sesame seeds
- 3/4 inch of mexican cinnamons stick
- 1/2 cup of raisins
- 1/2 cup unskinned almonds
- 1 corn tortilla
- 3 small slices of french bread
- 1/3 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 small white onion sliced
- 3 small roasted tomatoes
- 3 garlic gloves roasted
- 1 large ripe dark-skinned plantain, peeled, thickly sliced
- The reserved broth from the cooked chicken.
- 1/2 cup of oil or lard to fry the ingredients
- Salt to taste
Instructions to cook the chicken:
1.Combine all ingredients in large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, skimming foam, about 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to bowl; cover and chill. Strain and reserve broth in pot.
2.Get all the ingredients ready according to the list. This step is very important.
3.Prepare the peppers . Make sure to clean the dry peppers with a wet cloth and cut the peppers using your kitchen scissors if possible to flatten them for an even toasting.
Have a large bowl ready with water to soak the peppers after toasting.
4.In a skillet toast the dry peppers a few at a time, on both sides, pressing them down as you turn them, until the inside flesh turns tobacco brown. This takes a few seconds, take care not to let them burn. Place them in the bowl with the broth to soak. Keep toasting the rest of the peppers and placing them in the water. Soak them for about 30 minutes. Drain them and set aside in a bowl where you will be placing the rest of the ingredients after frying them until ready to blend.
Note: some recipes suggest frying the dry peppers, you could choose to do so.
5.Meanwhile, toast separately the reserved peppers seeds, the coriander seeds, the anise seeds and sesame seeds. Set them aside to cool.
6.Grind in an electric coffee/spice grinder as finely as possible. Cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, and all the toasted ingredients except the sesame seeds. In case you do not have a grinder, place in the bowl with the dry peppers.
7.Reserve 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds for serving the mole; grind the rest as finely as possible. After this step add this mixture of spices and seeds to the bowl with the peppers.
Now, add a small portion of the lard or vegetable oil to a skillet and begin frying the following ingredients separately draining any excess fat after frying: the raisins until plump up, the almonds until well browned, the pumpkin seeds until they swell (take care, since they tend to explode and jump), the tortilla and bread until crisp. Only add a little more lard at a time or it will be absorbed, specially by the tortilla and bread.
8.Add plantain and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, drain excess fat and transfer to bowl. Make sure to use a ripe plantain like the one in the picture. Fry the onions until golden brown and place in the bowl.
9.This is the bowl where all the fried and toasted ingredients were placed and now are ready to go into the blender. It is going to look a little bit messy. Crush the almonds, tortilla and bread roughly (to help your blender).
10.Put one cup of the chicken broth into the blender jar, the tomatoes (un-skinned) and peeled garlic, and blend until smooth. Gradually add the spice mixture and blend well; then add another cup of broth and gradually blend the fried ingredients to a slightly texture paste. Try not to add more liquid (unless your blender motor is heating or smoking) but constantly release the blades with a rubber spatula. You will have to do this step in 2 or 3 batches until everything has been pureed.
11.In a large skillet over medium heat, reheat the sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan very often to avoid sticking. Season with salt.
12.Continue frying until the mixture is very thick, about 8 minutes, then add the chocolate, broken into small pieces with yet another cup of broth and continue cooking and scraping the bottom another 5 minutes. Add the remaining broth as needed to desire thickness and continue cooking, the mixture should be bubbling and splattering—for about 25 minutes. By now pools of oil should be forming on the surface.
13.Add cooked chicken to hot mole; simmer until chicken is heated through, about 10 minutes. To serve, place a piece of chicken on a warm plate. Spoon on plenty of the mole sauce; sprinkle with sesame seeds. In Mexico it is usually serve with white rice with peas and a lot of warm tortillas.
This mole can be made well ahead and the leftover sauce can be kept very successfully in the freezer for about six months. When reheated it will probably have to be diluted with more broth and freshly cooked chicken, or better yet used for chicken-filled enchiladas.