If you’ve ever had a good molé, you won’t question the ridiculously long list of ingredients you see below. A sauce this robust takes time and care to achieve the perfect balance of flavor.
I’ve tried to break the recipe up into sections, based on the different stages of the cooking process. Read through the recipe multiple times before starting, prep everything out ahead of time, and it’ll save you a lot of headache once you get going. It isn’t technically difficult but it does take some time and attention.
The good thing is that the time you put in pays off when you’re left with the base for many multiple meals. I like to use small 2-cup containers to freeze the sauce base for later use.
Don’t skip this recipe just because you don’t have all the spices (and don’t try and make it without everything listed). Check out the bulk section at your nearest market and you’ll find they’ll have most of what this recipe calls for priced out by the pound. Buy just what you need for the recipe, rather than investing in large jars of spices you may never end up using again. If you find you like the recipe, next time you can go for the full jars!
*And if you are wondering where the poblano peppers are in this recipe, ancho chilis are what they call dried poblanos!
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Traditional Molé Poblano
(a concentrated sauce base)
Yields: about 6-8 cups mole base
1 oz. dried pasilla chilies (about 2)
1 oz. dried ancho chilies (about 2)*
1 oz. dried chipotle chilies (about 4-6)
3 c. bone broth or stock of choice
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. whole anise seeds
4 whole cloves
3 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried marjoram
½ c. ghee, lard, or tallow
1 medium onion, chopped
10 garlic cloves, minced
½ c. dried, unsweetened cherries
½ c. dried, unsweetened raisins
½ c. almonds, soaked 4+ hours
¼ c. pumpkin seeds
¼ c. sunflower seeds
2 tbsp. tomato paste
½ c. white wine
14 oz. crushed roasted tomatoes
1 whole cinnamon stick
¼ – ½ c. coconut palm sugar, honey, or maple syrup
2 oz. stone-ground dark chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp. sea salt (adjust to taste)
Filtered water, for blending
Note: to speed up the process, measure out all your ingredients ahead of time. The sesame, coriander, cumin, anise, cloves, and allspice berries can go in one small bowl. And the bay leaves, thyme and marjoram should go in a separate one. Make sure your almonds are soaked at least 4 hours.
Using kitchen or poly gloves, pull the stems, seeds, and inner rib fibers from the chilies. (Do NOT skip the gloves or everything you touch for hours will burn like hell — eyes, lips, etc.) Rip the chilies into smaller pieces, about 3-4″ squared. Add the chili pieces to a dry medium-sized stock pot on one of your back burners. Cook over medium heat until the chilies have darkened slightly and the room is fragrant (those with sensitive eyes may want to have some ventilation in the room for this step). Add the broth and bring the liquid to a simmer. Turn the heat off and cover with a lid to steep the chilis for later use.
Place the sesame, coriander, cumin, anise, cloves, and allspice berries in a new larger stock pot over medium low heat. Cook until the seeds barely start to turn golden and pop a bit. Pour them out into a spice grinder or Magic Bullet style blender. Add in the bay leaves, thyme, and marjoram and grind everything together until very, very finely ground. Set the spice mix aside for later use.
Add the ghee and chopped onion to the large stock pot you just used to toast the spices. Move the heat to medium and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, cherries, raisins, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Cook until the nuts are toasted and the dried fruit is softened, about 5 more minutes.
Add in the tomato paste and white wine. Stir until the alcohol is cooked off and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, cinnamon stick, and the ground up spices. Bring to a simmer, cover, and turn the heat to medium low. Cook covered for 20 minutes.
Uncover and stir in the reserved chilies and broth, coconut palm sugar, chopped dark chocolate, and sea salt. Stir until the sugar and chocolate is dissolved in. Continuing to stir occasionally, allow the sauce to cook uncovered for another 5 minutes or so to let the flavors meld together. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool for 15 minutes before blending. (a good time to lay down and relax from all that hard work!)
Once the sauce is warm but not piping hot, ladle it into a high-powered blender to puree (due to the nuts, seeds, and chilies, a lower-powered blender will not yield a smooth sauce). I recommend blending in 2 batches and taking caution to let enough steam escape before blending to prevent an explosion. Depending on your exact cooking times and how thick your resulting sauce is, you may need to add small amounts of filtered water to the blender to help smooth it out. Take breaks between blending rounds to check the smoothness/thickness of the sauce. It should lighten in color and be fairly paste-like (as shown above).
Storing and usage: this is a mole sauce base and will yields at least 20 servings in total. Unless you have a large family and/or want to eat a lot of mole within a week’s time, I recommend dividing this into 2-4 portions and freezing for later use.
Chicken Molé Poblano
Yields: about 4 servings
1 lb. chicken breast or thighs
1 c. Mole Poblano Sauce Base (recipe above)
1-2 c. bone broth or stock of choice
Roasted Cilantro Lime Cauli-Rice (or other deliciousness to serve with)
Season the chicken generously with sea salt and black pepper. Heat a wide sauté pan over medium high heat and lightly grease it with a high-heat cooking oil. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides (I used chicken thighs and cooked about 5 minutes per side). Remove it to a plate to let it rest before shredding.
While the chicken rests, turn the heat to medium low and add the Mole Poblano Sauce Base to the pan with 1 cup of broth or stock. Stir well to pick up the browned bits from the chicken. Bring the sauce to a simmer and add additional broth to thin out to the consistency you’d like (I prefer a straight 1:1 ratio).
Shred the chicken and add it to the sauce. Stir well and turn off the heat. Serve the Chicken Mole Poblano over Roasted Cauliflower Rice or whatever other base you prefer.