Mole Poblano is Mysterious and Delicious
From the Mexican city and state of Puebla, Mole Poblano is one of the most revered, mysterious and treasured recipes in Latin American cuisine. Many attribute the sauce’s creation to Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz, a cloistered nun that lived in Puebla in the late 1600’s. Legend has it that she created Mole Poblano to impress a viceroy that was visiting. However, the history of mole precedes Sor Juana. The word mole come from the Mayan language of Nahuatl, and it simply means “sauce” (for example, in Nahuatl, guacamole means “avocado sauce.”)
Chiles, chocolate, salt and spices were combined and ground on a metate, or stone grinding table. Ingredients brought from the New World such as onions, garlic and cinnamon would have been added once the Spanish brought new crops to the Americas. Sor Juana would most definitely have modernized the ancient recipe of mole to fit the tastes of high level visiting Spanish clergy. And we are glad that she did!
Metates No Longer Necessary
With modern electric appliances, Mole Poblano is not that tough to make, but the ingredient list seems to go on forever. Your shopping trip could be compared to The Incredible Race – there is a lot of items to collect. But, if you get all of your ingredients, you are golden.
My husband bought a Vitamix, so when cooking my last batch of Mole Poblano, I made some adjustments to this recipe that made the process even easier. If you have a regular blender, or a food processor, follow this recipe as it is written. If you think about it, boiling doesn’t do too much for these ingredients except soften them, which is needed if you are using a less powerful motorized blender or food processor. Vitamix blenders have such powerful motors that you can skip some of the boiling in this recipe, if you want to make this sauce faster.
For the Vitamix version, I simply removed the seeds and stems from the chiles, toasted the the chiles lightly on a grill for about 20 seconds, and then I added them to my big ingredient bowl (see recipe). After that, everything went into the Vitamix, and was liquified within 3 minutes.
Another step you can skip is grinding the spices in a spice grinder. I simply added those to the Vitamix as well, and voila! Another step removed.
Mole’s Flavor Improves Overnight
Make your mole a day in advance, and let it cool. Simmering mole too long will cause it to scorch, so I cook it just enough to get the ingredients heated through, and then I remove the cooking pot from the heat. Usually, the pot of Mole Poblano will stay cooling on my stove over night. The next day I will adjust the salt and seasoning as needed. I usually have mole for dinner, and then pack the rest in containers for the freezer. Mole Poblano is best used within 6 months if it is frozen, and within 3 weeks if it is simply refrigerated.
Making Mole Poblano can be a big mess, and chiles can stain your clothes and table linens, so be forewarned. But the effort is so very much worth it. This is my oldest son’s all-time favorite dish.
Mole Poblano for Dia de Los Muertos
- Prep Time: 24 Hrs
- Cook Time: 30 min
- Total Time: -25447280.7 minute
- Yield: 16 servings
- Category: Main Dish
- Cuisine: Mexican
10-12lb fresh uncooked turkey (4.5-5.5 kg)
1 whole onion, peeled
1 head of garlic
Salt to taste
3 dried chile chipotle
1 ½ lb dried chile ancho, stems removed (750 gr)
1 ½ lb dried chile pasilla, stems removed (750 gr)
1 lb tomatoes (500 gr)
About 3 cups of lard or vegetable oil for frying
2 onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large plantain, peeled and sliced into rounds
¼ lb raw peanuts (114 gr)
¼ lb blanched almonds (114 gr)
¼ lb sesame seeds (114 gr)
5 whole cloves
1 tsp. anise seed (2 gr)
1 tsp. coriander seed (2 gr)
1 tbsp. salt (12 gr)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (30 ml)
3 toasted tortillas
2 tbsp. sugar (25 gr)
1/4 cup raisins (40gr)
½ cup pitted dried prunes (62gr)
1 cup corn oil (240 ml)
3 – 4 qts turkey broth (3-4 lt)
8 oz Mexican chocolate (250 gr)
1 stick cinnamon
½ cup sesame seeds for garnish (140 gr)
Cut turkey to fit into a stock pot (you may need a couple of pots). Place a peeled, quartered onion in each pot, and one peeled clove of garlic. Boil turkey until it is cooked, about 1 hour. Salt to taste.
Remove turkey from broth, reserving the broth. Cool the turkey completely, then remove turkey meat from the bones, cutting the meat into large chunks. Cover, and
Store the turkey and broth in refrigerator until ready for use.
Place all chiles and tomatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain the water, and peel the tomatoes. Place chiles and tomatoes in a very large bowl, and set aside.
Add 2 to 3 spoonfuls of lard or vegetable oil to a large skillet. Fry the onions and garlic until translucent. Remove the garlic and onions from the skillet, and add to the large bowl with chiles.
In the same cooking oil and skillet, fry the slices of plantain until golden on both sides. Remove the slices and place in the large bowl.
Add 2-3 spoonful’s of lard or vegetable oil to the skillet. Add the peanuts, almonds, and sesame seeds, and fry until slightly browned. Pour the entire contents of the skillet into the large bowl.
In a molcajete or spice grinder, grind the cloves, peppercorns, anise and coriander seeds and salt into a fine powder. In a small, clean skillet, heat about 2 spoonfuls of vegetable oil. Add the ground spices, and fry for 30 seconds. Pour the spices and vegetable oil into the large bowl. Crumble the toasted tortillas and add to the large bowl, along with the raisins, prunes, and sugar.
In a large stock pot, add one cup (240 ml) of vegetable oil, and warm gently.
The sauce now needs to be blended until smooth: Fill a blender container 3/4 full with the mixture in the large bowl. Add two cups of turkey broth, and blend until you have a smooth sauce, with no visible particles. Pour the blended sauce into the stock pot with the heated vegetable oil. Continue processing the contents of the bowl with the
turkey broth in this fashion until the entire contents of the bowl have been utilized. Add the chocolate and cinnamon stick to the stock pot. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes.
When ready to serve, place the cooked turkey in a large Dutch oven, or in a large open terra cotta mole dish. Cover the turkey with the mole. Stir a few times to turn the turkey in the sauce. Make sure it is heated throughout, but careful that the mole does not scorch, about 15 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle sesame seeds over the top.