Mole Sauce: The National Dish of Mexico

These sumptuous sauces will have you shouting ole.

| April/May 2008

  • Mole rojo makes a tasty topping for black bean and cheese enchiladas.
    Illustration by Anni Betts

Here are four of our favorite mole recipes to whet your appetite.

Mole Rojo: This mildly spicy mole requires a little more work than some recipes, but it’s worth the effort: You can’t eat food like this in many places other than Mexico. 
Cacahuatl Chili: Art’s cacahuatl-inspired chili is a Tex-Mex chili in a rich mole sauce. 
Mole Verde: This mole is thick and mild. Try it on cheese enchiladas, sweet potato enchiladas, breakfast eggs or burritos. 
Holy Mole Ice Cream: This ice cream requires a bit of prep time, but its incredible flavor is worth the effort. 

Mole? Perhaps we should explain. Mole (mōh-lāy) is the national dish of Mexico: a tantalizing sauce made from sautéed onions and garlic combined with exotic spices and herbs, ground nuts (such as almonds, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds) and chiles, simmered with dark bittersweet chocolate.

Although there are countless variations of this hot sauce—from red to green to black—chiles and chocolate are at the heart of many of them. The combination of endorphin-producing chiles with chocolate creates a veritable Aztec ambrosia.

Mole traditionally is served with turkey or pork, but also pairs well with tortillas, chips, enchiladas, burritos, grilled vegetables, tamales, eggs, chilaquiles and more.

Moles of Mexico

The recipes for mole are as varied and individual as their makers, with each region and cook boasting their own versions. Chocolate is fundamental to the darker-hued moles, but is absent from mole verde and most mole amarillo, which are flavored subtly with traditional herbs and spices.

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