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Category: Mains

Mole poblano

Mole poblano
Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

The first time I visited Mexico City, many years ago, I dined in the Zona Rosa at Fonda El Refugio, a traditional restaurant that opened my eyes to a number of dishes I hadn't seen at home in Los Angeles. ... Read more

Total time: 4 hours plus overnight soaking | Serves 10 to 12
Note: Adapted from a recipe by Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of Cenaduria La Casita Mexicana. For a milder version omit the puya chiles. Chiles, cacao beans and Mexican crema are available in Latin markets.

Chile mixture

  • 16 mulato chiles
  • 20 pasilla negro chiles
  • 10 ancho chiles
  • 4 puya chiles, optional
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

Step 1The day before making the mole, remove the stems and seeds from the chiles; rinse the chiles and pat dry. Reserve three-fourths teaspoon of the seeds for the mole sauce. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the chiles (in batches if necessary) and fry until glossy, about 4 minutes. Drain and place in a Dutch oven. Cover with 10 cups hot water, add the vinegar and let stand overnight, covered.

Step 2The next day, drain the chiles and reserve the soaking liquid. Working in batches, place the drained chiles in a blender jar. Add enough soaking liquid to blend them smoothly. Repeat with the remaining chiles and set the mixture aside. This makes about 8 cups.

Mole sauce

  • 2 large plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup cacao beans
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon reserved chile seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 cup oil, divided
  • 1 corn tortilla (let air dry while assembling ingredients)
  • 1/4 bolillo roll, sliced crosswise (4 slices)
  • 1/4 ripe plantain, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shelled raw peanuts
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon blanched almonds
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • Chile mixture
  • Leaves from 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablets Mexican chocolate (6.2 ounces), chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar, according to taste

Step 1Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Do not peel them before or after roasting. Slice the onion crosswise into 1-inch-thick pieces. Roast the tomatoes, onion and garlic cloves in an ungreased skillet until spotted with brown. Remove from the pan and place in a large bowl. Set aside.

Step 2Add the cacao beans to the skillet and roast until fragrant, about 2 minutes, then remove from pan, wrap in a towel and set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove outer shell and skin. Next add the coriander seeds, anise seeds, pepitas, reserved chile seeds, peppercorns, cloves, sesame seeds and cinnamon stick to the skillet and roast just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to the bowl.

Step 3Add one-half cup oil to the skillet. When the oil is hot, fry the tortilla, then the bolillo slices until the tortilla is crisp and the bolillo slices are golden. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Fry the plantain slices until golden and softened. Remove and drain. Set aside.

Step 4Fry the peanuts, almonds and raisins for about 1 minute until well browned. Drain on a paper towel. Fry the cacao beans until they turn a slightly darker color, about 30 seconds, and remove to a paper towel. Drain, then crush the beans.

Step 5Fry all of the seeds and spices for 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and return to the bowl. Discard the oil from the skillet.

Step 6Heat the remaining one-half cup oil in a Dutch oven. Add the pureed chile mixture and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often.

Step 7In a blender, combine the cacao beans, seeds, spices, nuts and raisins. Grind with enough chile soaking liquid to puree. Add to the chile mixture.

Step 8Grind the reserved roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic cloves, the thyme leaves and the parsley sprig in the blender with enough chile soaking liquid to puree, then add to the Dutch oven.

Step 9Crumble the fried tortilla into small pieces. Place the bolillo slices, tortilla pieces and plantain slices in the blender with 1 tablespoon salt. Add enough soaking liquid to blend. Add this to the Dutch oven. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until dissolved. Add sugar to taste.

Step 10Stir constantly over medium heat until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency and becomes very dark. Strain the sauce and return to a clean pot. Place over low heat. Discard remaining chile soaking liquid. Makes 10 cups of sauce.


  • 1 (8-pound) turkey or 2 whole chickens, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 3/4 cup Mexican crema for garnish

Step 1Wash the turkey or chicken and place in a Dutch oven or large stockpot. Add water to cover. Add the onion, bay leaves, garlic cloves and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the poultry from the pot. Strain the stock and set aside.

Step 2Return the poultry to the pot and pour in the mole sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer and continue to cook until cooked through, an additional 15 to 20 minutes for chicken, 30 to 40 minutes for turkey, adding stock as needed to thin the sauce. Reserve remaining stock for another use.

Step 3To serve, place a serving of poultry on each plate and cover generously with mole sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Drizzle crema on the poultry and around the plate. Serve with Mexican or white rice. Freeze leftover mole in an airtight container.

Each of 12 servings with one-half cup sauce:
582 calories; 36 grams protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 36 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 125 mg. cholesterol; 628 mg. sodium.
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