Oaxaca, Mexico is known for its mole — a rich, velvety sauce comprised of chilis, spices, nuts, fruit, tomatoes, and chocolate blended and served over browned meat. The state claims seven different types of mole, each with a unique flavor. They range from savory-sweet to spicy.
While the indigenous dish takes approximately one hour to prepare, the steps are simple and a good way to spend time with friends and family in the kitchen. Cooking mole from scratch requires about two dozen ingredients. However, it’s the perfect recipe to make in large batches and pop in your freezer for future meals.
As I learned on a recent visit to Oaxaca, no trip to the southern state is complete without taking a mole cooking class.
My husband and I enrolled with Me Encanta Oaxaca. Due to COVID-19, they currently only offer private classes. Our chef, Betsaida Lopez Dias, was wonderful! We called her Betsy. She speaks perfect English and her culinary skills are top notch.
Me Encanta’s tour includes transportation to and from your hotel, a stop at the local mercado, and an at-home cooking class with Betsy’s sweet Mama and Papa as sous chefs. Their authentic Mexican kitchen and cookware enhances the experience.
You’ll enjoy lots of laughs while learning to create this delicious dish.
I chose to make almond mole. Other options include rojo, verde, negro, amarillo, coloradito, chichilo and more. You can learn about each one in the cookbook “Oaxaca: Home Cooking From the Heart of Mexico.”
Here is how to cook Mexican mole from scratch!
The ingredients can be found at your grocery store or local Mexican market. Measurements are simple — a pinch of this, a handful of that. It’s how Betsy cooks, adding to the fun!
● 4 pieces of chicken — 2 drumsticks & 2 thighs (can use the meat of your preference.)
● 2 guajillo chiles
● A handful of sesame seeds
● A handful of raisins
● A large handful of raw almonds
● 2, one-inch pieces of cinnamon
● 3 pinches of oregano
● 3 pinches of thyme
● 3 pinches of cumin
● 4 cloves
● 4 black pepper corns
● 3 red tomatoes
● 4 green tomatoes
● 1/2 white onion
● 2 garlic cloves
● 1 flour tortilla
● 1, two-inch slice of bread (baguette)
● 1/4 of a plantain (5 slices)
● 2 sprigs of parsley
● 3 tablespoons olive or soy oil
● 8 olives (no pit), sliced
● 1 can pickled jalapeño chiles
● 3 cups chicken broth
◼︎ 1 skillet
◼︎ 1 frying pan
◼︎ 1 chopping board
◼︎ Sharp knives
◼︎ 1 large pot
◼︎ 1 small pot
◼︎ Blender or food processor
Betsy recommends to use a few quintessentially Mexican vessels. Therefore, I’ve provided links here to where you can purchase the items.
Molcajete: A volcanic stone version of the mortar and pestle. Betsy uses this to ground the spices together, and to serve salsa. Link to purchase here: https://amzn.to/38ACvrT
Clay cazuela (cooking pot): A shallow, lead-free glazed pot used to cook sauces on the stovetop. In addition, it’s perfect for serving beans, rice, even tortilla chips. Link to purchase here: https://amzn.to/38zP9Y1
All these Mexican cooking essentials are great to use for more than making mole.
Clay platter: The finished chicken mole looks beautiful on this traditional clay plate. Likewise, it can be used to serve enchiladas, tacos, tostados, and much more. Link to purchase here: https://amzn.to/3oAXgJn.
Small clay bowls: Before cooking, measure out all the ingredients into these handy bowls just as the chefs do on cooking shows! Above all, it streamlines the process of preparing the dish. Link to purchase here: https://amzn.to/2LVEi20.
Recipe & Preparation
1. Remove seeds and vines from the 2 guajillo chiles.
2. Roast the sesame seeds in a skillet on low heat, stirring until they are golden yellow.
3. Roast the almonds in a skillet on low heat, stirring until they turn darker. Afterwards, remove almonds from the heat and put in boiling water to blanch about 5 minutes. Let cool, then peel off the skin. Set aside in a small bowl. Next, blanch the guajillo chiles in the same water for 5 minutes. Remove, set aside.
4. Place the cinnamon sticks in a molcajete and grind until powdery. Afterwards, add the oregano, thyme, cumin, cloves, and black pepper corns to the molcajete and grind all together until powdery. Place spice mixture in a small bowl and set aside.
5. In a skillet, roast the whole red tomatoes, whole green tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves with the peel on. When they are brown, take off the heat and let cool. Chop the tomatoes into quarters. Peel the garlic. Place in a bowl and set aside.
By now your kitchen smells amazing!
6. Next, heat your frying pan on medium. Cook the tortilla and piece of bread baguette until golden brown. Put on a plate and set aside.
7. Similarly, on medium heat, cook the slices of plantains until light brown. Put in a small bowl and set aside.
8. Use the same frying pan, but on low heat, and fry the ground spices. Afterwards, add the raisins, blanched almonds, sesame seeds, cooked vegetables, tortilla, bread, and guajillo chillies. Mix together and cook for 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
9. After it’s cooled, put mixture into the blender or food processor and add the parsley. Blend well until it has the consistency of a sauce.
10. At this point, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to the frying pan and cook chicken pieces until brown and cooked throughout (165 degrees).
11. Meanwhile, on the stovetop, heat the clay pot with 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil on medium. Once hot, pour in the blended mixture — mole — and stir without stopping. Add the sliced olives. Promptly turn off when mole bubbles.
12. Add the cooked chicken to the mole in the clay pot. Cook together on very low for 3-5 minutes.
13. Lastly, serve mole and chicken on a clay serving platter. Garnish with a few peeled almonds, parsley leaves, a pickled jalapeño, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice.
Fresh flour tortillas in a basket lined with colorful Mexican napkins are a nice accompaniment to the meal.
A basket with lid: This keeps the tortillas warm throughout the meal. Link to purchase one like Betsys here: https://amzn.to/3qnzrFN.
Brightly colored napkins: The bright hues compliment the terra cotta clay platter and the straw tortilla basket. Link to ones used in every Mexican kitchen here: https://amzn.to/35CG52T.
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