I don't remember when I had my first chicken with Mole Poblano sauce, but I'm thinking it was sometime back in the 80's when I lived in California. I must have thought that I should give it a try just to see what the talk was about, or it could very well have been on a dare...not sure, but, frankly I was hooked from the start. The most common American served Mole is a sauce consisting of at least twenty ingredients including chocolate, fruit and nuts. The sauce is so complex and nuanced and at the time it became my benchmark for how much I liked a particular Mexican restaurant if it were done well. I had never given a homemade version a try before having been content to buy the stuff pre-made in a jar because who really wants to trouble themselves with that many ingredients, but I guess I was bored so thought I would give it a try.
I looked at a lot of reference material and ended up basing my sauce on one I found at Food and Wine. It just sounded doable and the ingredients were available at my local grocery store in the ethnic food section. I made chicken enchiladas with the sauce and should have used double sauce because it was that good.
Mole Poblano (adapted from Food and Wine)
Makes about 3 cups of sauce
- 5 dried Ancho chilies, stems removed and broken into 1-inch pieces
- 3 dried Guajillo chilies, stems removed, seeded and broken into 1-inch pieces
- 2 dried Pasilla or Negro chilies, stems removed, seeded and broken into 1-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup black sesame seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon anise seed
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
- 2 whole cloves
- 12 black peppercorns
- 1 1 1/2-inch cinnamon stick
- 3 tablespoons lard, divided
- 2 1/2 tablespoons dark raisins
- 20 whole almonds
- 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 stale corn tortilla torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
- 5 cloves garlic unpeeled
- 1 small onion peeled and quartered
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 3 1/4 ounce Mexican chocolate
- salt to taste
- Soak the dried chili pieces in hot water for 30 minutes.
- Heat a large skillet over low heat. When hot add sesame seeds, anise seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, whole clove, peppercorns and cinnamon stick. Toast until the seeds start to pop and release their oil, about 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. When cool add to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the lard over low heat. When melted and hot add the raisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds and tortilla pieces. Cook until almonds are toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.
- Add the garlic and onion to the same skillet and cook over low heat until browned in spots, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Peel garlic and chop the onion and garlic coarsely and add to the cooling almond mixture.
- Add another 1tablespoon of lard to the skillet and when melted add spice powder and onion/almond mixture and increase heat to medium-high and cook stirring often for 3 minutes. Add drained chili pieces, chicken stock and chopped tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about an hour, reducing by half. Remove from heat and add chocolate pieces and let melt.
- In batches, process in a blender until smooth.
- Season with salt if need