Susana's Black Mole
Mole Negro de Oaxaca
This recipe is adapted from My Search for the Seventh Mole by Susana Trilling.
From Season 9, Mexico: One Plate At A Time
Makes 12 servings
5 chile chilhuacle negro (1 ½ ounces)
5 chile guajillo (1 ounce)
4 chile pasilla mexicano (1 ounce)
4 chile ancho negro or mulato (2 ounces)
2 chile chipotle meco (1/4 ounce)
1 medium white onion, quartered
½ small head of garlic, cloves separated
2 heaping tablespoons almonds
2 tablespoons shelled and skinned raw peanuts
1” Mexican cinnamon (canela)
3 black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
2 tablespoons oil
1 ½ tablespoons raisins
1 slice of bread, preferably challah or an egg bread
1 small ripe plantain, cut into ½-inch slices (about 1 cup)
½ cup sesame seeds
2 pecan halves
½ pound (1 medium-large round or 4 to 5 plum) ripe tomatos, cut into chunks
¼ pound (2 to 3 medium) fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into chunks
1 sprig fresh thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried
1 sprig Mexican oregano, or ½ teaspoon dried
5 generous cups light chicken stock
2 tablespoons lard or oil
6 ounces Mexican chocolate
2 dried avocado leaves
Rinse the chiles quickly in running water, and remove all stems, veins and seeds. Reserve the seeds. Heat 2 quarts of water in a kettle. In a large griddle, comal or frying pan, toast the chiles over medium heat until black, but not burnt, about 10 minutes. Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with the hot water to soak for 30 minutes. When the chiles are soft, remove the chiles from the soaking water with tongs, placing small batches in a blender with ½ cup of the chile soaking water (or more if needed) to blend smooth. Pass the chile puree through a food mill or strainer to remove the skins.
In the same dry griddle, comal or frying pan, roast the onion and garlic over medium heat for 10 minutes. Set aside. Toast the almonds, peanuts, the cinnamon stick, peppercorns and cloves on the same pan for about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan.
Over the same heat, toast the chile seeds, taking care to blacken but not burn them, about 20 minutes. Try to do this outside or in a well-ventilated place because the seeds will give off very strong fumes. When they are completely black, light them with a match and let them burn themselves out. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Soak the blackened seeds in 1 cup of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain the seeds and cover them with more water. Let them soak another 15 minutes more, then strain them. Grind them in a blender for about 2 minutes with ½ cup of water. Strain them through a medium-mesh strainer. Add the blended chile seeds to the blended chile mixture.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the raisins and fry them until they are plump, approximately 1 minute. Remove from pan. Fry the bread slices in the same oil until browned, about 5 minutes; remove from pan. Fry the plantain in the same oil until it is well-browned, approximately 10 minutes, and set aside.
In a separate frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil and fry the sesame seeds, stirring constantly over low heat, adding salt if they start jumping around too much. When the sesame seeds start to brown, about 5 minutes, add the pecans and brown 2 minutes more. Remove all from the pan, let cool, and grind finely in a spice grinder or a powerful blender with ½ cup stock. The spice grinder takes a bit of time, but this is the only way to grind the seeds and nuts finely enough. The mixture should be very smooth.
Wipe out the frying pan and fry the tomatoes, tomatillos, thyme and oregano, over medium to high heat, allowing the juices to almost evaporate, about 15 minutes. Blend well, using ½ cup stock if needed to blend and set aside.
In the blender, in small batches if necessary, place the nuts, bread, plantains, raisins, onion, garlic and spices. Blend well, adding about 1 cup chicken stock to make it smooth.
In a large cazuela or stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons of lard or oil until smoking and fry the chile paste over medium to low heat, stirring constantly so it will not burn, approximately 20 minutes. When it is “bubbling furiously,” add the tomato puree and fry until the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Add the ground ingredients, including the sesame seed paste, to the pot. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until well incorporated, about 20 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock, stir well, and allow to cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Break up the chocolate and add to the pot, stirring until it is melted and incorporated into the mixture.
Toast the avocado leaves briefly over the flame if you have a gas range, or in a dry frying pan and add to the pot. Slowly add more stock to the sauce—it will keep thickening as it cooks. Continue to cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Add stock as it thickens. The more time it has to cook the better. There should be no gritty texture (from the seeds), which will cook out over time. Add enough salt to bring out the flavors. If you can only taste the chiles, you need more salt. The mole should not be thick, just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.