Mole can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Really, you can make authentic red mole in less than one hour by following these five simple steps:
If you can get these steps down, you just might be making mole from memory before you know it!! (Unless you are pregnant or have young children, in which case you will never do anything from memory ever again. Ever.)
As pictured above, it’s a good idea to set out all of your ingredients, properly measured, before you start cooking. This way you can focus on each of the five steps, without having to scroll back up the recipe to look at measurements or run around the kitchen looking for stuff and then realize that your pumpkin seeds are burnt. (Not that I’ve done that. Okay maybe I did but it only happened once. Okay maybe twice but it was sesame seeds the second time.)
The full ingredient list and instructions are over here. In this post, we’ll walk through each of the five steps together.
You need to roast three ingredients (2 small tomatoes, 3 tomatillos, and 1/2 yellow onion) on a baking sheet in the oven under the broiler. The goal is to get the ingredients nice and soft and a little charred, without being completely burnt. So slice the tomatoes and tomatillos in half and place them skin side up on the foil. Then slice the onion in rings and place them on the foil, too, as pictured below. Then put the baking sheet under your broiler on high.
Depending on your broiler, it could take anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes to roast the ingredients, so do keep an eye on them. Ultimately, you want them to look like this:
When they do, pull out the baking sheet and set it aside.
To do this step, you need a large saucepan and plenty of olive oil. The goal with this step is to enhance the color and flavor of nine ingredients by toasting them in hot oil. Soft and golden is what you are going for, not burnt and crisp. The nine ingredients to fry are: the three types of chiles (stemmed and seeded), raisins, tortilla squares, garlic cloves, plantain slices, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Fry the chiles about 30 seconds a side. The chiles will turn a lighter color as they cook, and that is what you are going for. Work in batches with the chiles, about 3 at at time.
Fry the raisins for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently, just until they puff up and begin to turn a lighter color. You may need to add more oil as you go from ingredient to ingredient … so just pour in a tablespoon or two if the oil starts to get low.
Fry the corn tortillas until lightly golden, about 30 to 45 seconds, stirring frequently.
Fry the garlic cloves and plantains until lightly golden on both sides, about 1 minute, tossing frequently.
Fry the pumpkin seeds until lightly browned as well, stirring frequently.
I threw my sesame seeds in with the pumpkin seeds after frying the pumpkin seeds for about 30 seconds, and then fried them both for about 30 more seconds. You can do that or fry them separately. In either case, a light golden to light brown is what you want for both.
Okay frying is done! Now it’s time to move onto the soaking step.
Soaking is actually done concurrently with the frying, but it’s easier to remember as a separate step. Here’s how it works: Next to the stove where you are frying, set a pyrex 8-cup measuring cup (or large glass bowl) on the counter. Fill the bowl with about 4 cups of hot tap water. As you finish frying each ingredient, use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer it into the bowl of water. Use a spatula to press the ingredients down into the water, so everything gets a good soak. After you add the chiles, raisins, corn tortillas, plantain slices, garlic cloves, and pumpkin and sesame seeds to the hot water, then dump in the roasted tomatoes, tomatillos and onion. Then add your final two ingredients, the cinnamon and chocolate chips. I also add about 1 teaspoon salt at this point. When everything is in there, it will look something like this:
Yum, right? Okay maybe not yet.
Let everything soak in the water for about 5 minutes. It usually takes me about 25 minutes to get to this point … which is a good time to go grab a beer or something because the party is about to start :)
Not much explanation needed here: Just dump everything into the jar of a blender and blend on high until the mixture is completely blended and smooth. If you have a small blender jar, you may need to work in batches.
If your mixture is too thick to blend, add chicken broth to thin it. You can’t really “over blend” the mixture, so if you think it might not be completely smooth, go ahead and blend a little longer. Ultimately, it should look something like this:
Okay now for the last step. Stay with me people.
Even though the mole is thoroughly blended, you still need to strain it. To do this, you’ll need a fine mesh sieve, such as this:
Hold the sieve over a large Dutch oven and pour the blended mixture, about 1 cup at a time, through the sieve. Use a rubber spatula to press the mixture through the sieve, and add a little chicken broth to thin the mixture as you go. After you press the mixture through the sieve, you’ll see some solid pieces in the bottom of the sieve. Use your rubber spatula to scoop out and discard the solids, as these will clog the sieve and prevent the remainder of the mole mixture from passing through.
Sorry I don’t have a picture of this step … between the spatula, sieve and blender, I didn’t have a free hand. On the bright side, however, the picture would not be very enticing. As my little muñeca said when she saw the dirty sieve in the sink, “Mom, is that poop?”
And I won’t tell you what my almost-five-year-old son said next. (Sigh.)
But I digress.
Repeat with the remaining mole mixture, pressing it through the sieve and then scraping out and discarding solids as you go. Slosh a little chicken broth in the jar of the blender to get the last bit out, and then pour it through the sieve. Ultimately, the strained mole will look something like this:
And you’re just about done! Time for another beer, hopefully this one with a few amigos who are going to stay for dinner :)
All you have to do now is put the mole on the stove over medium-low heat and let it cook a little longer, about 5 or 10 minutes, stirring often. This extra cooking will deepen the color and flavor of the sauce, and thicken it a bit, too. If the sauce becomes too thick, add more chicken broth or water to thin it out again. Taste and adjust salt as needed. And that’s it!! In less than an hour you’ve whipped up Mexico’s most famous sauce, the elusive red mole. Que bueno, mi amigo, que bueno.
Now you can pour it over whatever you wish … from chicken or turkey (baked, boiled, grilled, or smoked) to cheese enchiladas to big beef short ribs. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with perfect white rice or Mexican red rice. Oh, and another beer. Of course another beer.
Do you have any questions? Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments and I will get back to you as soon as I can! Thanks so much for following along. I hope you get a chance to try it!
And don’t forget dessert! Here’s an easy recipe (with step-by-step instructions!) for the BEST Mexican flan you’ve ever tasted. Promise.