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Oaxacan Black Mole

Monday, 26 May 2008


There are more than 60 varieties of chiles that are grown only in the state of Oaxaca and nowhere else in Mexico. We have suggested substitutions here to reflect varieties more commonly available north of the border. You can use oil instead of lard, but the flavor will change dramatically.


At a glance
Chile peppers
Cooking Method
Heat Level
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into eight serving pieces

  • 6 cups chicken stock

  • 5 chilhuacle negro chiles, stems and seeds removed (save the seeds) or substitute ancho chiles

  • 5 guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed (save the seeds) or substitute dried red New Mexican chiles

  • 4 pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed (save the seeds)

  • 4 mulatto chiles, stems and seeds removed (save the seeds), or substitute ancho chiles

  • 2 chipotle chiles, stems and seeds removed (save the seeds)

  • 1 medium white onion, quartered

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 2 tablespoons whole almonds

  • 2 tablespoons shelled and skinned peanuts

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons raisins

  • 1 slice of bread (Challah or egg type is best)

  • 1 small ripe plantain, sliced or substitute a banana

  • ½ cup sesame seeds

  • 2 pecan halves

  • 1-inch cinnamon stick, Mexican preferred

  • 2 whole peppercorns

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped

  • 5 fresh tomatillos, chopped

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 avocado leaf, omit if not available or substitute bay leaf

  • 1 bar or to taste Mexican chocolate, Ibarra preferred

  • Salt to taste

  • Plenty of fresh tortillas


In a pot, simmer the chicken in the stock until tender, about ½ hour. Remove the chicken and keep warm and reserve the stock.

In a large frying pan or comal, toast the chiles, turning once until darkened, but not burned or, as some Oaxaquenas prefer, fry the chiles in lard. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with hot water to soak for ½ hour to soften. Remove the chiles and place in a blender or food processor and puree, adding a little chile water if necessary, to form a paste.

In the same pan, roast the onions and garlic cloves until slightly browned, remove. Then toast the almonds and peanuts slightly, remove. Finally, toast the chile seeds, taking care to make them dark but not burned.

Heat 2 tablespoons of lard in the skillet and fry the raisins until plumped, remove and drain on paper towels. Next fry the bread until browned, remove and drain. Repeat with the plantains. Add more lard if necessary, lower the heat and fry the sesame seeds slowly, stirring often. When they are slightly browned, add the pecans and brown, remove and drain.

Toast the cinnamon, peppercorns, and cloves lightly in a dry pan. Cool and grind in a mocajete or spice grinder.

In a food processor or blender, puree the nuts, bread, sesame seeds, and pecans in small batches, remove. Add the onions, garlic, plantains and puree, remove. Finally, add and puree the tomatoes and tomatillos.

In a large cazuela or heavy pot heat the remaining lard and fry the chile paste, stirring constantly so it will not burn. When it is "dry," add the tomato puree and fry until the liquid has evaporated. Add the ground spices, the nut-bread mixture, the pureed onion mixture, and the oregano and thyme.

Heat, stirring constantly, to a simmer and add the chocolate to the mole. Toast the avocado leaf for a second over the open flame and add. Slowly add some of the reserved chicken stock to the mole until the mixture is just thick enough to lightly coat a spoon and salt to taste. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, return the chicken to the mole and heat through.

Serve with plenty of sauce and hot tortillas.


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