Deciding to prepare a mole sauce from scratch requires some planning. I always go into it thinking that I wil just be done in one afternoon. Hours later, I realize that just like tamales, you really can’t rush through preparing mole. It’s a process that you could break down into two days just to make life easier, lol! And then, on the other hand, you could purchase a concentrated mole sauce from the market. Unfortunately for most of us, we are limited to the one brand you see in most markets. There is nothing wrong with using that. It’s delicious and I loved that version of mole growing up. When I first researched different styles of mole sauce, it really was just to challenge myself. But after preparing it for a few years now, I do it more so as a learning experience. Deciding whether to dry toast your ingredients or fry them in oil. What kind of dried chiles you use will give you a different color or slight different flavor in the end. And for me, straining the sauces along the way make a big difference. This recipe was inspired by a recado negro (black chile paste) that my friend Norma sent me. Although I enjoyed that version very much, I wanted to develop a version that you could prepare at home. We are just getting a taste of fall weather and thinking back on this low and slow Oaxacan-Style Mole with all it’s aromas made for a nice afternoon in my kitchen.
My Version of a Oaxacan-Style Mole (Mo-Leh) Sauce
First~Prepare The Recado
Recado de Chile Pasilla y Chile Mulato
The most common used dried chiles used in the Oaxacan-style mole are the chile mulato, pasilla and chilhuacle. Unfortunately, the chilhuacle is not available where I live. These particular dried chiles are so dark, almost completely black in color.
Ingredients For Recado(Chile Sauce)
Manteca(pork lard) or canola oil
10-12 chile pasilla, stems and seeds removed
8 chile mulato, stems and seeds removed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 full teaspoon Mexican oregano
8-10 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 to 1/3 cup white vinegar
salt to taste
*I decided not to add any chile de arbol to this variation to keep it on the more mild side.
1. Heat 1/3 to 1/2 cup oil to medium heat. After a few minutes, add two of the dried chiles. Cook for just about 20 to 30 seconds per side. They will become brighter in color at first, then start to darken in color. As soon as they become darker, take them out and transfer to a plate. Repeat until all peppers are done. Once peppers are done, break them into smaller pieces(they should be very brittle) and cover them with boiling water. Let them steep.
2. In that same pan, add a little more oil and heat to medium/low. Add the cumin seeds, oregano and garlic. Cook stirring often until the spices and garlic become aromatic and slightly toasted. Remove from heat.
3. Drain the water from the chiles and transfer them to the blender. Add 2 cups of fresh water or chicken broth and all of the remaining ingredients, including the oil that you cooked the spices in. I prefer not to use the water that the chiles were soaking in. It can be bitter at times. Blend on high until smooth. Taste for salt. Strain sauce through a wire mesh strainer.
This version of a liquid recado negro or black chile sauce will still have a dark red hue to it. Typically the chiles are charred until they look like black ash. Not really interested in filling my house with smoke though, lol! This recado can also be used as a marinade or flavor base for sauces, soups and stews.
Second~Toasting and Roasting
Seeds and Nuts
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup natural pepitas
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon anise
2 whole cloves
6 to 8 peppercorns
1 inch piece of Mexican cinnamon
1 large roma tomato
2 to 3 chile serrano
1/2 large white onion, sliced into thick rings
6 to 8 cloves garlic, skins on
1/3 cup raisins, steeped in hot water
2 corn tortillas, toasted until charred(toast and char on a dry skillet at medium heat. Turn as needed)
1 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter(I used this since I had no peanuts)
1 disc Mexican chocolate ( 3 to 3.5 ounces)
8 to 10 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
- I also wanted to note, that I did not include any platano macho or plantains. It is a common ingredient used, but again not always easy to find where I live.
Directions For Toasting and Roasting~
1. In one skillet, combine the almonds and pepitas(pumpkin seeds). Heat to medium and add just a drizzle of oil. When they begin to sizzle, stir as needed and cook just until lightly toasted. remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.
2. Wipe out that same skillet and add the sesame seeds. Heat to medium and toast until golden in color. Stir as needed. Transfer to a bowl. Wipe out the skillet. Reserve 1/2 of the toasted sesame seeds for garnish on the mole.
3. In the skillet, add the spices and heat to medium. When they become aromatic, stir often. Toast for just a few minutes and remove from heat. Wipe out the skillet. Again and finally in this same skillet, add the tomato, onion, serrano and garlic. Drizzle with a little oil and heat to medium. Cook until they begin to char in some spots and cook through. remove the garlic after 15 minutes. If you feel comfortable toasting several ingredients at once using a few pans, you could do that as well.
Third~Grinding and Blending Seeds, Spices and Fresh Ingredients
After toasting the seeds, nuts and spices I grind them down in batches using my coffee grinder. I only use it for this purpose.
Directions for Finishing The Sauce~
1. Using a coffee grinder or mini chopper, add the toasted nuts. Grind by pulsing until it resembles a thick paste. Set side. Using a coffee grinder(I use mine strictly for spices) add the toasted spices and seeds. Grind until you have a fine paste/powder. Set aside.
2. Once everything is toasted, roasted and charred, add the ground seeds, nuts and spices to the blender. Also add the charred tomato, onion and serrano. Remove skins from garlic and add them, along with the raisins, charred tortillas and peanut butter. Add 2 cups of broth. Blend on high until smooth. For a smoother sauce, strain sauce through wire strainer and set aside.
3. In a large dutch oven pot, add 2 tablespoons of pork lard(manteca) or oil of choice, and heat to medium. After a few minutes when oil is hot, add the strained chile sauce(sauce from dried chiles). Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring as needed. Add the other blended sauce and 6 cups of broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the mexican chocolate. Stir as needed to melt chocolate. Cover 3/4 of the way and continue simmering the mole sauce for a good hour or two. The sauce will become darker and thicker as it cooks and reduces. Aadd extra broth (2 or more cups)depending on how thick you like it. Taste for salt along the way.
This is the sauce that includes all the seeds, nuts, spices and fresh ingredients.
This variety of Mexican chocolate contains sugar, but will just add a subtle sweetness to the finished sauce.
The sauce will thicken and darken in color as it cooks and reduces. Thinning out the sauce with more broth is totally up to you and how you would like the finished product. The sauce is freezer friendly and will only improve with age.
Oaxacan-Style Enchiladas(Enchiladas Oaxaqueñas). Depending on what region you visit in Mexico, the recipes may be called by different names. I grew up knowing these as enmoladas, where the tortilla is dipped in the mole sauce, filled and rolled like an enchilada. In some regions this dish is known as Enchiladas Oaxaqueñas. Either way you cal them, they are delicious!
To prepare these Oaxacan-Style Enchiladas or Enmoladas you will need:
Oil of your choice
Cooked, shredded chicken
Toasted sesame seeds
Onion. thinly sliced
Guacamole sauce or avocado slices
Oaxaca cheese, shredded
In a skillet, preheat 1/4 to 1/3 cup of oil to medium heat for a few minutes. Cook the desired amount of corn tortillas, one at a time, until they just start to crisp, but are still soft enough to roll. Turn as needed. Stack onto plate.
Into the shredded warmed chicken mix in just enough of the warm mole sauce to coat evenly. You could dip each tortilla in the warm mole sauce, fill with chicken and then roll and transfer to serving plate. Or, you can fill and roll plain tortilla, place on serving plate and then ladle the warm mole sauce over top. I prefer to do it this way myself.
Garnish the enchiladas or enmoladas with sesame seeds, onion, crema, guacamole sauce and Oaxaca cheese.
I enjoy pairing these enchiladas with Mexican Style Rice and Charro Beans.
To see full recipe for Mexican-Style Rice, click onto picture. On this day, I left the onions in larger pieces as my Mom used to. They were added to flavor the rice and could be removed easily. I also used fresh carrots that I diced and steamed for a few minutes before adding to the rice.