Mole poblano has long been considered one of the jewels of Mexican cuisine, a true traditional Mexican dish. Its complex flavor is a combination of sweet, spicy, and earthy made possible by more than 23 different ingredients. This version of mole is from the city of Puebla, thus the name poblano, and is one of my absolute favorites!
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
This recipe for mole poblano sauce is from the talented Chantall Vigueras of @mamavegetal, who is originally from Puebla, so you know this is an authentic recipe! I have to be honest with you, making mole poblano can take quite a bit of time, but Chantall does a great job of breaking down the recipe in a very manageable way. Plus it is naturally vegan!
The recipe is also part of a collaboration with 32 vegan chefs in the ebook, Our Vegan Mexico, which showcases regional cuisine from all 32 Mexican states.
What is Mole Poblano?
Moles, or mullis as they were known by the Nahuas of pre-colonial Mexico are thick sauces made with a diverse variety of chiles, tomatoes, and seeds. But this changed in the colonial period (17th century) with the arrival of spices like cinnamon, clove, anise, nuts, and bread. This transformed mole into the sauce we know today.
There are many delicious moles in Mexico, not only the famous seven moles of Oaxaca, but there are dozens of regional variations. The book Larousse Diccionario Enciclopedico de la Gastronomía Mexicana by Ricardo Muñoz Zurita names at least 71! One of those regional variations is mole poblano which is also one of the most well-known moles in the United States.
The legend of the convent of Santa Rosa de Lima says that mole poblano was first created by divine inspiration in the convent in 1685 by Sister Andrea de la Asunción. Sister Andrea was very famous for her skills in the kitchen and was asked to make a special dinner for bishop Don Manuel Fernandez de Santa Cruz, the viceroy Conde de Paredes, and Marques de la Laguna.
Caught unprepared, she prayed to God for inspiration, and after selecting a variety of dried chiles and spices, everything was ground in the metate, and mole poblano was born. Divine inspiration or not, mole poblano is a delicious sauce that is often prepared for special occasions like weddings, funerals, and Dia de Muertos.
Ancho Chiles: Ancho chiles are dried Poblano chiles with a mild heat. The peppers are allowed to ripen on the plant until they turn red they are then picked and dried. They measure about 1,000-1,500 SHU on the Scoville Scale. You can find them online or at your local Mexican market.
Mulato Chiles: The Mulato pepper is a mild to medium dried poblano, similar to the ancho pepper, but with a slightly different flavor. The ancho is a poblano that ripens to a deep red, while the mulato is a poblano that ripens to brown, and then is dried. They measure about 250-4,000 SHU on the Scoville Scale. You can find them online or at your local Mexican market.
Pasilla Chiles: Pasilla (chile pasilla) or “little raisin” properly refers to the dried chilaca pepper, a popular Mexican chili pepper. The chilaca pepper, when fresh, is also known as pasilla bajio, or as the chile negro or “Mexican negro” because, while it starts off dark green, it ends up dark brown in color. Scoville Heat Units: 250 - 3,999 SHU. You can find them online or at your local Mexican market.
Chipotle Chiles: Chipotle peppers are dried smoked jalapeño peppers. They have an underlying sweetness with bitter and smoky notes. These chiles measure 2,500-10,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). You can find them online or at your local Mexican market.
Bolillo: A bolillo is Mexico’s version of crusty white bread, it is oblong in shape and used to make tortas! The flavor is very similar to a French baguette, so if you can't find it you can substitute it with a piece of baguette or country bread.
Ceylon Cinnamon: You will need to use Ceylon cinnamon, also known as true cinnamon, because it has a thin bark that is easy to blend in the sauce. You can find it at your local Mexican market or online. If you can't find it you can use powdered cinnamon instead.
Piloncillo: Piloncillo is sugarcane which is boiled until it thickens, then poured into a triangular mold and allowed to harden. It has a flavor similar to brown sugar and molasses. You can find it at your local Mexican market or in the Mexican section of your grocery store.
Mexican Chocolate: I like to use an artisanal brand called Hernan, but Ibarra is more readily available at Mexican markets or the Mexican section of your grocery store.
Spices: For this recipe, you will need anise seeds, whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, and black peppercorns. You shouldn't have any problems finding these at your local grocery store.
Seeds and Nuts: For this recipe, you will need peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. You shouldn't have any problems finding these at your local grocery store.
Plantain: Plantains can be found in the tropical fruit section of your grocery store. They look just like a banana but they are larger and with a thicker skin. You will need ripe plantains for this recipe. You will know the plantain is ripe when the skin is mostly black and yellow. If you can't find a ripe plantain, you can buy the green ones (unripe) and let it ripen in a brown paper bag on your kitchen counter for a couple of days.
How to Make This Mole Poblano Recipe Step by Step
Using a comal or cast iron pan set to medium heat toast the chiles.
Place the chiles in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them soak for 15 minutes.
Simmer the tomato, white onion, and garlic cloves for 5 to 6 minutes.
Drain and add to the blender with the drained chiles.
Fry the bolillo until golden brown.
Fry the tortilla until golden brown.
Fry the ripe plantain until golden brown.
Fry the almonds until golden and brown in spots.
Toast peanuts until golden brown and dark in spots.
Fry raisins until they become plump and a bright color.
Toast the pumpkin seeds until they begin to pop.
Toast the sesame seeds until they begin to pop and become golden brown.
Toast the spices until aromatic.
Puree the nuts, seeds, plantain, raisins, and bread with water until smooth.
Combine the chile puree and the nut/seed puree.
Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes then add chocolate and piloncillo.
Simmer for 20 more minutes until the piloncillo and chocolate completely dissolve.
Tips and Tricks
- I want to be honest with you and let you know that this recipe is time-consuming and has a lot of ingredients, but it is not complicated at all!!
- The recipe makes mole paste, which you can freeze or save in the fridge for later use.
- To use the paste all you need to do is add enough vegetable stock to get it to the right consistency and let it simmer for a couple of minutes, then serve.
- If you want to make this without oil you can toast the ingredients, that were meant to be fried, in the oven until a dark golden brown.
- Since it is so time-consuming to make it’s best to make the full recipe and freeze the rest so you can enjoy mole whenever you want as a quick meal.
You can make enmoladas (mole enchiladas) with this or serve it over potatoes, chayote, and zucchini with rice.
Store the mole in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer.
What is mole in Mexican cooking?
The term “mole” stems from the Nahuatl world “molli,” which means “sauce” or “concoction.” Mole comes from a family of sauces prepared throughout the Oaxaca and Puebla regions of Mexico and is characterized by a complex, layered flavor derived from intricate blends of dried chiles, spices, fruits, and seasonings.
Does mole always have chocolate?
People mistakenly think that mole is also a chocolate sauce, but in reality, not all mole sauce contains chocolate. You see, there are several types of mole sauces – some may contain chocolate but others don't.
Is mole unhealthy food?
It has feel-good benefits. It may be a caloric sauce, but it is packed with good-for-you qualities. According to the Institute of Medicine, mole sauce is an excellent source of Vitamin B, riboflavin, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and niacin.
What is the most popular mole in Mexico?
Mole poblano is the most popular variation of mole. This version, associated with the Puebla region, is considered the national dish of Mexico.
How do Mexicans eat mole?
Mole is often used as a sauce for enchiladas or enmoladas as they are known. Mole can also be used in as a saucy addition to vegetables, rice, or beans. Mole chilaquiles are very popular in Mexico, as well as mole empanadas.
More Mole Recipes
Authentic Mole Poblano
Mole Poblano Paste
- 7 dried ancho chiles
- 6 dried mulato chiles
- 6 dried pasilla chiles
- 3 dried chipotle chiles dried
- 1 white onion, small
- 2 to 3 Roma tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 bolillo, a couple of days old, sliced
- 2 corn tortillas, cut into fourths
- ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 ripe plantain, peeled sliced
- ⅔ cup almonds
- ¾ cup raw peanuts, unsalted
- ⅔ cup raisins
- ⅓ cup sesame seeds
- 1 stick Ceylon cinnamon broken into pieces
- 3 whole cloves
- ½ teaspoon anise seed
- ½ cone piloncillo (4 oz)
- 1 tablilla Mexican chocolate (Ibarra)
- 1 L water or vegetable stock
- 2 vegetable bouillon cubes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- Olive oil or avocado oil
- Corn Tortillas
- 8 oz. Mushrooms, sliced
- ¼ Onion, thinly sliced
Garnish for Enmoladas
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Crumbled tofu
- Thin onion slices
MOLE POBLANO PASTE
- Clean, and remove the seeds and stems from the dried chiles. Using a comal or cast iron pan set to medium heat toast the chiles 30 seconds on each side. Be careful not to burn them or the sauce will be bitter. Once they are lightly toasted place them in a heat proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them soak for 15 minutes.
- While the chiles are soaking, bring a medium pot of water to a simmer and add the tomato, onion, and garlic. Simmer for about 6 to 7 minutes or until the tomates begin to lose their skins and the onion is tender. Drain and add to the blender.
- Once the chiles are soft and pliable, drain them and add to the blender with enough water to get the blender to puree smoothly, about 1 1/2 cups. Transfer this sauce to a large bowl.
- Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high heat and add vegetable oil. Fry the bolillo, tortillas, plantian, almonds, peanuts, raisins, sesame seeds and spices one at a time until golden brown. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Place all of the fried ingredients in the blender in batches, adding enough water to get it to puree the sauce smoothly. Transfer to the bowl with the chile sauce and stir to incorporate.
- In a large pot, set to medium heat, pour in the mole sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes stirring constabtly. When you see the fat rise to the top of the sauce then you add the piloncillo, vegetable bouillon, and chocolate. Simmer another 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until the piloncilo and chocolate completely dissolve.
- Taste and adjust seasosing with salt and pepper if needed. Let cool in pot. Now it is ready to use or store.
MOLE POBLANO ENMOLADAS
- Place 1 cup of the mole paste in a medium sauce pot. Add ½ cup of water or vegetable stock and bring to a low simmer. Stir to incorporate. Add more liquid if necesary to get the right consistency.
- In a large sauté pan, sauté the onions and mushrooms until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Soften your corn tortillas by heating them briefly in the oven or microwave until the roll easily.
- Fill the tortillas with the mushroom mixture and roll. Place on a plate and pour mole sauce on top of them.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and top with sliced onions, avocado and crumbled tofu.
Although dorastable.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates.