With Day of the Dead, skulls and skeletons upon us, a few friends have contacted me asking for mole recipes, a traditional dish at this time of the year.
So… here’s what I got.
The first one is from my friend Pilar Cabrera, the owner/chef at La Olla Restaurant in Oaxaca. Follow this link to another of my posts and there in all its glory will be an incredible recipe for one of my favorite Mexican dishes, mole negro.
So why not try something a little different, experiment, practice and perfect your own? Here’s a good basic beginning for your own mole rojo. It is nowhere near as detailed as Pilar’s, but trust me, if you get it right, you’re gonna love it.
It’s one of my favorites, served up from scratch by Estela Salinas on the ranch where my foundation serves, just south of Oaxaca.
Ingredients for mole rojo… serves 8 – 10 people
6 cloves of garlic
½ tbsp of dry cumin
1 medium white onion – diced
2 ancho chiles [dry]
5 guajillo chiles [dry]
4 medium roma tomatoes
4 medium tomatillos [paper removed]
1 platano macho – sliced
2 tbsp of sesame seeds
2-3 tbsp of raisons
1 extremely dry bolillo [Don’t be fooled! Get the real ones with the hard outer crust. Think French bread.]
5 whole almonds
1 disc of Mexican or Oaxaca chocolate
6 cups chicken stock – it’s better to use your own rather than store bought for a less salty taste.
salt to taste
Once you have all your ingredients together, you’re ready to start.
Take your dry chiles, cut them open, remove the seeds and veins and then toast them in a skillet or on a comal. Do not let them burn as this only takes a minute or so. Set them aside.
Toast the garlic, tomatoes, onion and dry cumin in your skillet or on your comal. The tomatoes should have some black on the skins as you need to make sure they are cooked all the way through. Some people prefer to roast the tomatoes in the broiler. This works too, just make sure to turn them when one side is done. Set all these aside when done.
Add some oil to your skillet and one by one, brown the almonds, raisons, sliced platano macho and the sesame seeds, setting each aside when they are done. Cut your bolillo into small chunks and brown it in the oil. Think lightly toasted crouton.
When all of these items are ready, put everything into a blender and mix well. Pour the mixture into your ceramic mole olla, or a heavy dutch oven and heat over a small flame, constantly stirring with a large wooden spoon.
As the mixture reduces, darkens and thickens a little, begin to add the chicken stock little by little until to reach you the consistency you want for your mole. If you want a thicker sauce, use less stock, thinner, add more.
When it is just how you want it, and the mixture is slowly bubbling, continue stirring and add your chocolate. When it is all dissolved, season the mole with salt and you are ready to go!
Serve with rice, over chicken, or turkey, garnish the mole with some additional sesame seeds and don’t forget the tortilla and plenty of napkins.
A final note… this is not an exact science. It takes a lot of practice and experimenting to get just the look, texture and taste of what you are looking for. But know this… for many, getting mole right is an incredibly fulfilling lifelong journey, and it will be for you too!