This is a really nice recipe that I’m happy to bring to you today. Its wonderful mix of flavors will make you feel that all that time you spent preparing it was definitely worth while! The ingredients in the Mole Verde add a bright green color to the dish, which easily makes it one of the most beautiful moles I’ve seen.
In Mexico, the variety of Mole recipes vary form region to region; this particular recipe is from the State of Veracruz, where the mole’s consistency is a little less thick than versions from other states. Mole Verde is also known as “Pipian” or “Pipian Verde” in some places of Mexico. It can be made with chicken or pork, and you can also add vegetables like green beans, chayotes, nopales, zucchini, and even sweet peas. Many cooks add a small amount of corn masa to thicken the sauce, but I didn’t use any in this recipe.
What makes this particular recipe different from others is its addition of “hoja santa”, an aromatic herb. The green leaves of the Hoja Santa are thin with a heart-shaped form and soft texture, and come in sizes ranging from 4-10 in. It’s name literally translates to “Sacred Leaf” or “Holy Leaf”. Found in the tropical regions of Central America, Hoja Santa is also known as “Acuyo Leaf”, “Yerba Santa”, “Hierba Santa”, “Tlapena”, and “Momo”, among other names. The flavor of this leaf isn’t easy to describe; it’s a combination of anise, mint, licorice, and even eucalyptus. Hoja Santa has many gastronomic uses, and is used in states like Tabasco, Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Chiapas. It can be used in soups and stews, in sauces like this recipe, or just as a seasoning. It is also used to wrap tamales for steaming, and meats and fish for baking.
Although fresh Hoja Santa can sometimes be hard to find, make sure to check out the fresh produce section of your nearest Latin Store. If you can’t find them, you can use the dried version. Dried Hoja Santa leaves aren’t as aromatic as the fresh ones, but they will still work fine.
- 2 pounds of pork (country style ribs), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 Bay leaf
- 6 medium tomatillos, husks removed
- 2/3 cups of pumpkin seeds, shelled and toasted
- 1/2 cup of sesame seeds, toasted
- 2-3 Serrano peppers
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 small white onion, chopped
- 3 large romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
- 2 Hierba Santa leaves, chopped*
- A small bunch of cilantro
*If you don’t find the fresh Hierba Santa, you can use the dried version at the Latin Stores, or you can buy it online HERE. However, you can make this recipe without the Hierba Santa and still have a memorable Mole Verde.
*You can also add chayotes, green beans and nopales to this stew.
1. Place the meat and bay leaf in a large casserole, and add just enough water to barely cover it. Turn heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes with the lid on. The water will start to reduce, and the meat will start browning on its rendered fat. The slow cooking process will produce a tender meat. If after this period of time your meat still looks though, keep cooking and add a little bit more water as needed.
2. While the meat is cooking, place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatillos are pale green and soft, about 6-8 minutes.
3. Place the cooked and drained tomatillos in a blender with the pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, Serrano peppers, garlic, onion, romaine lettuce leaves, Hoja Santa leaves, cilantro leaves, and 1 cup of water or chicken broth. Process until you have a very smooth sauce. Depending on your blender, you may need to work in batches.
4. By this time, the meat should be starting to brown in the casserole. Pour the sauce over the meat and cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently to avoid the sauce from sticking to the bottom. Once the sauce starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently to allow all the flavors to be absorbed. Add the cubed vegetables and more water as needed.
5. Keep slowly simmering until the vegetables are cooked, about 8 minutes. Serve warm with a nice portion of rice and corn tortillas to scoop up the mole sauce from the plate.
Do you have a favorite stew recipe?