Mole Negro

The key is to balance the earthy, nutty, sweet, salty and acidic flavors.

To increase the flavor complexity of this mole, add any of the following: cooked avocado leaves, sunflower seeds, chipotles, smoked paprika, different types of chocolate (such as Mexican chocolate, 85-percent dark chocolate and 100-percent unsweetened cocoa powder), celery, carrots, blue-corn masa, a variety of toasted corn, fresh pomegranate seeds, roasted pumpkin or roasted winter squash. The key is to balance the earthy, nutty, sweet, salty and acidic flavors. (Pomegranate molasses and dried avocado leaves can be found at most international grocery stores.)

Mole Negro

The following is an abbreviated recipe for mole negro (which can often include up to 130 different ingredients) with fewer ingredients and a shorter prep time. Carreón estimates the recipe takes around two hours to prepare, with a one-hour cook time for the paste and an additional one hour for the mole. He notes that dried chiles have the tendency to have some dust attached, so clean them using a damp paper towel or cloth prior to making the mole paste. 

Yields | 6 to 8 cups mole sauce before thinning with stock |

Mole Paste

  • 2 oz dried chile mulato
  • 2 oz dried chile pasilla
  • 4 oz dried chile chilhuacle negro
  • 8 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 3 to 4 4-oz tomatillos, whole
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup whole, unbleached almonds
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted peanuts (optional)
  • ½ cup stale bread, crushed (challah is ideal)
  • 6 blue-corn tortillas
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 1 stick Mexican cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ cup pepitas
  • 3 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Mexican oregano, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 6 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mole Sauce

  • mole paste (recipe below)
  • pomegranate molasses, to taste
  • low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock, to taste
  • dark chocolate, to taste

| Preparation – Mole Paste | Set oven to broil. On rimmed sheet trays, arrange dried chiles and broil for 1 minute on each side until slightly blistered. Remove chiles from oven and let cool about 2 minutes. Cut chiles lengthwise and remove and discard stems. Toast seeds and veins in a sauté pan with 2 tablespoons oil until completely blackened but not burned. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat stock and add cleaned chiles to soak.

In a cast-iron skillet over high heat, cook onion, tomatillos, tomatoes and garlic until blackened. Remove and add mixture to chicken stock.

In a skillet over medium heat, add nuts, bread and tortillas and toast until almost dark. Remove and set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast cloves, allspice berries, Mexican cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin, fennel and coriander seeds until fragrant. Let cool. In a spice grinder, add toasted spices, nuts, pepitas and sesame seeds and grind into a fine powder.

In a large pot over high heat, add remaining 6 tablespoons oil and sauté raisins, dates, Mexican oregano, ginger and thyme for about 5 minutes. Add cooked onions, tomatillos and tomatoes and toasted bread and toasted ground nut, spice and seed powder. Reduce heat to medium and cook 2 minutes more. Add chile mixture, chocolate and pomegranate molasses and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add extra stock as needed. Simmer for 1 hour.

In the bowl of a blender or food processor, purée mixture in small batches until smooth. Remove each batch into an oversized container so you can mix thoroughly. Paste can be stored for up to 6 days in the refrigerator or frozen for up to 1 month and later thinned into a sauce.

| Preparation – Mole Sauce | In a stockpot over medium heat, add paste and more pomegranate molasses, stock and chocolate to taste or as needed to thin sauce. Serve with duck, pork or beef.

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