Like many Americans, I think of mole as the dark chocolate chile sauce served over chicken – the sauce so complex and rich that I sometimes eat it with a spoon trying to catch all of the subtle flavors. This mole, mole poblano, is but one of many moles made in Mexico, the word “mole” having been derived from a pre-Hispanic term for sauce. Today in Mexico, travelers will find many types of mole, the only unifying factor the fact that each sauce contains chile peppers.
But I digress. I was in Puebla, home of mole poblano, to learn to make what some call the national dish of Mexico. I had always heard that mole poblano took many ingredients and much time; the complexity of flavors it contains indicated as much. But as I learned during my hands on cooking class at Mesones Sacristia de la Compania, mole poblano can be made by any home cook with determination and a good blender.
Mesones Sacristia offers guests a variety of cooking classes from one to six days. I love the idea of learning about a region through its cooking, especially with a cuisine as sophisticated as Mexico’s. Our class was taught by Executive Chef Alonso Hernandez who was ably assisted by Lizbet Hernandez Casares.
You will need a more detailed recipe with amounts before embarking on mole-making, but this will give you an idea of how these ingredients come together for mole poblano:
- Remove the stem and seeds from mulato, ancho and pasilla chiles, then roast the tomatoes, onions and garlic
- Fry chiles to get a crispy texture
- Boil the vegetables and chiles, then blend all of the ingredients and strain
- Fry the plantains and burn the corn tortillas, then blend them with water
- Combine with the sauce along with the spices, sugar and chocolate, simmering for 25 minutes
During my stay in Puebla, I ate mole poblano at almost every meal. Such is the greatness of this sauce that I never tired of eating it. As one tourist pamphlet described it, eating mole poblano is like eating a mouthful of joy.
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