YAM’s food writer Cinda Chavich shares a recipe for mole negra she learned how to make after a trip to Mexico.
By Cinda Chavich
I tasted several black moles on a food trip to Oaxaca, Mexico and learned how to make this Mole Negra from Donia Yolanda Geminiano at her La Capilla restaurant in Zaachila. My version uses the dried chilies I found at Mexican House of Spice and The Root Cellar in Victoria. This makes a very intense, spicy paste. To give it a fruity Veracruz twist, add a cup of prunes and an extra ripe plantain (or banana) to the mix.
Braise some chicken thighs with this spicy sauce for a tasty Pollo con Mole to serve with fresh corn tortillas, as they do at spots like La Taqueria and La Tortilla Mexicana in Victoria.
• 4 mulato chilies
• 4 pasilla chilies
• 4 ancho chilies
• 1 small chipotle chili (dried or canned)
• 2 whole cloves
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 3/4 tsp black peppercorns
• 1/2 tsp thyme
• 3/4 tsp oregano
• 1/4 cup sesame seeds
• 1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
• 1/4 cup raw almonds
• 1 slice of white bread (or corn tortilla)
• 2 tbsp raisins
• 1/2 very ripe plantain, sliced
• 4 Roma tomatoes (or two cups canned tomatoes, puréed)
• 4 tbsp canola oil
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
• 1 white onion, sliced
• 2 oz Mexican chocolate, chopped
• 2 tbsp brown sugar
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 3 to 4 cups chicken or turkey broth (homemade, if possible)
You can prepare and serve a mole in one day, but the flavours really improve if you let it rest overnight (or even for a couple of days) in the refrigerator.
Remove the veins and seeds from the chilies; reserve the seeds. Toast chilies on a hot, dry pan until puffed and softened, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Be careful not to burn them. Place chilies in a bowl, cover with hot water or broth, and soak for 30 minutes. You should have about 4 to 5 cups of chilies. Drain, reserving liquid.
If you like, put on the exhaust fan, and toast a handful of the chili seeds until they’re completely blackened. Adding this chili “charcoal” to the sauce is traditional and adds to the black colour.
In the same hot pan, toast the spices over medium-high heat until they are aromatic (just a minute or less), then pour into a bowl to cool. In a spice mill or mortar, grind the spices.
Heat oven to 425°F and toast the seeds, nuts and bread on a sheet pan until browned, about 10 minutes. Cool and set aside.
On another sheet pan, drizzle the onion slices and garlic with a tablespoon of the canola oil and, with the tomatoes, roast in the oven until brown, about 45 minutes. Cool.
In a blender or food processor, grind the toasted nuts and seeds, then add the bread and pulse to form crumbs. Add the spices and pulse to grind, then add the hydrated chilies, raisins, plantain and about 1 cup of the reserved soaking liquid. Blend until very smooth. Scrape out and set aside.
Don’t clean the blender, but add the roasted onion, garlic and tomatoes. Blend until smooth. Add a little broth if necessary.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat and add the tomato purée to the hot pan. Cook, stirring, until it’s a thick, dark paste, about 10 minutes. Add the nut and spice purée, the chopped chocolate, half the sugar and the salt. Continue cooking, and stirring for 10 to 15 minutes, until you have a very dark, thick, almost black mass.
This is your mole paste — chill overnight or for up to 2 days to allow flavours to marry (you will have about 6 cups of mole paste — use half for this chicken dish and freeze the rest).
Pollo Con Mole
The next day, continue with the sauce. For every 3 cups of mole paste, add about 3 cups of chicken broth. Slowly whisk broth into the mole paste and bring to a boil.
For a chicken and mole stew, add two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, halved, to the sauce; cover and simmer for 1 hour until tender and thick, adding more broth if necessary.
You can shred the tender chicken in mole sauce to fill corn tortillas for tacos or enchiladas, along with avocado, tomato and fresh cheese.
Otherwise, simply serve the mole sauce over grilled chicken or fish, with rice on the side. It’s traditional to sprinkle a few toasted sesame seeds over top to garnish.
This article is from the May/June 2018 issue of YAM.