Mole making

Cooking authentic mole takes time. For those uninitiated, mole is a popular sauce in Mexican cuisine. Oftentimes, each restaurant, family, grandma, and mother has their own version of mole. It varies by region and by town. But the unifying ingredients in all of them include a combination of Mexican spices, such as oregano and canela (Mexican cinnamon), aromatics such as charred onions and garlic, Mexican chocolate, and the most pungent and fun ingredients: dried Mexican chilies. The end result is a mix of chocolate, spices, chilies… a very complex tasting dish that is hard to liken to anything else I’ve ever tasted or made. Some moles have 20-30 different ingredients and can take days and days to make! And the longer it sits on the stove cooking, the more and more the flavors meld together and become even more complex and delicious.

I’ve made mole twice, both times in cooking classes in Oaxaca. The first time was in 2010 during my first trip, and the second time was this past trip in May 2018 with Chris. Today was my first time attempting mole at home, albeit a more simplified, home-friendly version.

Today, we used dried ancho and guajillo chilies that we brought back from our Mexico trip last year for a simplified red mole. I also ground up the canela I purchased whole from a market in Mexico City. I used a teaspoon of the Mexican oregano I purchased, as well; Chris noticed that the smell was far more pungent than the dried oregano we buy here. It took about 2-3 hours including the time to film the cooking, but in the end, after adding some additional shaved Mexican chocolate and a touch of sugar, it tasted rich, well-rounded, and smoky.

I knew that I’d use it as the base sauce for the chicken enchiladas I wanted to make to use up old corn and cassava tortillas in the freezer, but I didn’t realize how special it would taste when all the components were put together until I ate them today. Filled and topped with a vibrant red mole, chicken, cilantro, and cheese, these enchiladas were lick-your-plate worthy and definitely tasted authentic. I actually impressed myself with this dish.

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