For a very long time now I’ve had it on my list to try to make my own mole sauce.
The traditional Mexican sauce is known for taking a long time to make and it turns out all the rumors are true! It really does take a while to make and is pretty complicated.
But you know what? I did it and you can too.
While it took me a day to make, the sauce ended up being very delicious. A perfect mix of savory and sweet. If you’ve ever had a desire to make it, here’s a walkthrough for you!
Traditional Mole Sauce
Yield: 5-6 Cups sauce
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
3 small tomatoes
8 black peppercorns
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
6 dried ancho peppers
3 dried pasilla peppers
2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons almonds
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup raisins
5-6 cups chicken stock (recipe below)
1 plantain or unripe banana
4 corn tortillas
3 ounces Mexican Chocolate (Ibarra is good)
1/4 cup lard
1 whole chicken
8-10 cups water
1 onion, quartered
2 stalks celery
2 carrots, chopped
10 black peppercorns
2 dried ancho peppers
1) Add all the stock ingredients to a large stock pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours. Strain stock and set aside. Discard veggies. Let chicken cool for later.
2) For sauce, roast dried peppers at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until fragrant. Then add peppers to a bowl with 2 cups boiling water. Let side for 30 minutes.
3) Toast spices in a large skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Then grind spices into a powder and set aside.
4) Roughly chop veggies for base and roast for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
5) Add roasted veggies to a blender with 1 cup chicken stock and blend until smooth. Strain and add veggie base to a large pot.
6) Cook nuts in melted lard over medium heat until they are lightly browned. Then add raisins and cook for another minute until they are soft. Be careful not to burn raisins.
7) Add nuts and raisins to blender with 1 cup stock and puree. Once smooth, add to veggie base.
8) Sautee diced banana (or plantain) in lard along with corn tortillas until lightly browned. Then add to blender with 1-2 cups stock and blend until smooth. Add mixture to sauce pot.
9) Add another two cups of chicken stock to sauce pot along with ground spices and chocolate.
10) Bring sauce to a simmer and simmer, on medium-low heat for 90-120 minutes, stirring regularly.
11) Season sauce with salt and pepper and serve over enchiladas or chicken or turkey.
12) Extra sauce will keep in the fridge for two weeks or you can also freeze it for later.
Recipe smashed together from 4-5 recipes online, none of which I can find again...
It Takes a Day to Make the Mole
Between shopping for all the ingredients, prepping the ingredients, and cooking everything, this sauce will no doubt take you an entire day to make. There are no short cuts.
The flavors are so good and complicated because it has a lot of different things going on and also simmers for so long.
If you want to try it, just be sure to block off enough time so you don’t feel rushed.
While there are around twenty ingredients in this bad boy, I tried to break them up into groups so you an more easily see how they fit into the recipe.
The base of mole sauce is actually chicken stock. I wouldn’t recommend using store-bought stock for this, but I guess you could. Since I was making chicken enchiladas to serve with my sauce, it was easy to just cook the chicken while making the stock.
I just tossed all the stock ingredients above in a large pot and let it simmer for around three hours.
The finished stock was a dark color and had a great flavor.
The basics behind this sauce are preparing a few different groups of ingredients by either roasting them or cooking them in lard and then blending everything together and simmering it for a really long time.
As long as you keep that in mind, the recipe isn’t really hard. It just takes some time.
A lot of the savory flavors in the sauce comes from dried peppers. Two kinds of peppers regularly popped up in the recipes that I researched and I was lucky enough to find both of them.
Roast these guys on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees so they are fragrant. Then add them to a bowl with about 2 cups of boiling water so the peppers reconstitute.
They will need to sit for about 30 minutes in the water.
Once the peppers are reconstituted, remove the stems from the peppers and slice them open. Scrape out all the seeds and add the peppers and steeping liquid to a blender. Blend them until they are smooth and set the pepper paste aside for later.
There are some great spices in this recipe and all of them really come through in the final sauce. The key is to toast the spices well in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes until they are fragrant and lightly browned. This will really bring out their flavors.
Then just give them a whirl in a spice grinder and you’re all set in the spices department.
Just set this spice mixture aside for later.
The Vegetable Base
Besides the chicken stock, a lot of the body in the sauce comes from a few simple vegetables that are roasted and then blended down.
Just roughly chop all the veggies and add them to a baking sheet. Bake them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Again, once the veggies are roasted, add them to your blender along with 1.5 cups of the chicken stock and blend until they are smooth.
Then strain the veggie mixture to remove any seeds.
Add the veggie base to a large pot where you can start building your mole sauce.
This recipe has a few different kinds of nuts in them. I think the almonds and peanuts are pretty important but I think you could also use walnuts instead of pecans or just leave them out.
Anyway, cook the nuts over medium heat for a few minutes in LARD.
Yep. That’s right. Lard. Can you use veggie oil or something? Sure. But I was going for a traditional sauce here so lard is the only way to go. You don’t need a lot of it.
Once your nuts are lightly browned, add your raisins to the pan also and cook them until they are soft. The raisins will only take about a minute to cook while the nuts will need 5-6 minutes so don’t add them at the same time.
As you might guess, once the nuts are done, add them and the raisins to the blender along with 1 cup of chicken stock. Blend it up!
Add the blended nuts to your master sauce pot where your veggie base is. You can also add the blended pepper paste to the pot and the spice mixture as well.
There are a few finishing ingredients that go in the sauce now.
Traditionally, a plantain is cooked in the leftover lard from the nuts and added to the sauce. The plantain was the only ingredient I couldn’t find so I just used a slightly unripe banana and it worked great.
Also, cook a few corn tortillas in the lard as well.
When the banana and tortillas are lightly browned from the lard, guess what you do?!
Add them to a blender with 1-2 cups of chicken stock and blend them up. Then into the sauce pot they go!
Finally, there is the most famed ingredient of the mole sauce: CHOCOLATE.
Not just any chocolate, but Mexican chocolate.
This chocolate is very different than what you might think of as chocolate. It’s really hard and very sweet. I’m not sure if I would recommend substituting it with normal chocolate.
You should be able to find this stuff at any Mexican market anywhere though.
The Long Simmer
You now should have a big pot of simmering sauce with all of your ingredients in. It will be pretty thick though so add 2-3 cups of chicken stock to it to thin it out a bit and then bring it to a simmer.
I recommend tasting the sauce now although it won’t be very good at this point. It’s just fun to see how the flavors change as it simmers.
Simmer this bad boy over low heat for 90-120 minutes. You need to stir it pretty consistently or it will stick and burn to the bottom of the pan. If it ever gets really thick, add more stock.
When the sauce is done simmering, season it well with salt and you should be good to go. This was my finished sauce which was done about 7 hours after I put my chicken stock on to boil.
What to do with the sauce?
You can put this stuff on tons of things, but it goes particularly well with poultry.
I made some really quick chicken enchiladas for my sauce by shredding the chicken from my stock and rolling it in some corn tortillas with cheese. Then I smothered the whole thing in sauce and baked it until the cheese was melted.
You can get creative with the sauce though. It would go great on grilled poultry or any sort of tex-mex dish really.
It’s really good stuff even if it is a bit of a pain in the butt to make.
While this sauce was completely delicious, there’s just no way that I will make it regularly. It’s just too much work!
That said, if you are up for a challenge or have a special occasion that calls for really authentic Mexican food, it’s pretty hard to beat this sauce!
Has anyone else tried to make mole before? If you have any tips to make it easier, leave a comment!