Mole Sauce: Mole Rojo

| April/May 2008

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.

We use a 60 to 70 percent organic bittersweet chocolate and add a little cinnamon and sugar. If you use Mexican chocolate, omit the cinnamon and sugar and use 4 ounces chocolate instead.

Mole rojo makes a delicious sauce for black bean and cheese enchiladas, grilled meats, seafood or vegetables, and makes extraordinary huevos rancheros. For a superb stew, add cooked vegetables, cooked fowl or meat to the finished sauce and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes. MAKES ABOUT 5 CUPS

• 4 dried ancho chiles
• 4 dried guajillo chiles
• 4 dried chile colorado or mulato chiles
• 1 dried habanero OR 2 or 3 dried red serrano chiles
• About 5 cups vegetable broth
• 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
• 1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted
• 6 tablespoons safflower or olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1½ cups)
• 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
• 6 garlic cloves, peeled
• 1 slice whole-grain bread, cubed (about 1½ cups)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried epazote leaves, crumbled
• 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano leaves, crumbled
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons masa harina
• 3 1/2 ounces 60 to 70 percent chocolate, broken into pieces
• 1/2 teaspoon canela or cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons sugar

1. Prepare chiles: Follow the directions for handling the chiles under "Cook’s Notes" at right. After you drain the soaking liquid from the chiles, place half of them in the blender with 1/2 cup broth and puree. Place a strainer over a bowl and pour the chile puree into it. Repeat the pureeing process with the remaining chiles and another 1/2 cup broth, then pour puree into strainer.

2. Add another 1/2 cup broth to blender to remove residual puree, then pour into the strainer. Using a spoon, press puree through strainer, extracting as much as possible. Discard what is left in the strainer and set puree aside.

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