Classic Red Mole

Mole Rojo Clasico
Recipe from Season 7, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 3/4 gallon of mole


  • 10ounces (5 medium)tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 1/3 cup (about 6 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds
  • 1cuprich-tasting pork lard or vegetable oil, plus a little more if necessary
  • 6ounces (about 12 medium) dried mulato chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
  • 3ounces (6 medium)dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
  • 3ounces (10 medium)dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1cup (about 4 ounces) unskinned almonds
  • 1cup (about 4 ounces) raisins
  • 1teaspooncinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
  • 1/2teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/2teaspoon anise, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/4teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground
  • 2slices firm white bread, darkly toasted and broken into several pieces
  • 2ounces (about 2/3 of a 3.3-ounce tablet)Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3quarts chicken broth
  • Salt
  • 1/3 to 1/2cup sugar


  1. Preliminaries. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast the tomatillos 4 inches below a very hot broiler until splotchy black and thoroughly soft, about 5 minutes per side. Scrape into a large bowl. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirringly nearly constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Scrape half of them in with the tomatillos. Reserve the remainder for sprinkling on the chicken.
  2.  Brown other mole ingredients. Turn on an exhaust fan or open a kitchen door or window. In a very large soup pot (I typically use a 12-quart stainless steel stock pot or a medium-large Mexican earthenware cazuela), heat the lard or oil over medium. When quite hot, fry the chiles, three or four pieces at a time, flipping them nearly constantly with tongs until their interior side has changed to a lighter color, about 20 or 30 seconds total frying time. Don’t toast them so darkly that they begin to smoke—that would make the mole bitter. As they’re done, remove them to a large bowl, being careful to drain as much fat as possible back into the pot. Cover the toasted chiles with hot tap water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to insure even soaking.
    Remove any stray chile seeds left in the fat. With the pot still over medium heat, fry the garlic and almonds, stirring regularly, until browned (the garlic should be soft), about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove to the tomatillo bowl, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot.Add the raisins to the hot pot. Stir for 20 or 30 seconds, until they’ve puffed and browned slightly. Scoop them out, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot, and add to the tomatillos. Set the pan aside off the heat.

    To the tomatillo mixture, add the cinnamon, black pepper, anise, cloves, bread and chocolate. Add 2 cups water and stir to combine.

  3.  Blend, strain, cook. Into a large measuring cup, tip off the chiles’ soaking liquid. Taste the liquid: if it’s not bitter, discard all abut 6 cups of the liquid. (if you’re short, add water to make up the shortfall). If bitter, pour it out and measure 6 cups water. Scoop half of the chiles into a blender jar, pour in half of the soaking liquid (or water) and blend to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl; discard the bits of skin and seeds that don’t pass through the strainer. Repeat with the remaining chiles.Return the soup pot or cazuela to medium heat. When quite hot, pour in the chile puree—it should sizzle sharply and, if the pan is sufficiently hot, the mixture should never stop boiling. Stir every couple of minutes until the chile puree has darkened and reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, about a half hour. (I find it useful to cover the pot with an inexpensive spatter screen to catch any spattering chile.)

    In two batches, blend the tomatillo mixture as smoothly as possible (you may need an extra 1/2 cup water to keep everything moving through the blades), then strain it in to the large bowl that contained the chiles. When the chile paste has reduced, add the tomatillo mixture to the pot and cook, stirring every few minutes until considerably darker and thicker, 15 to 20 minutes. (Again, a spatter screen saves a lot of cleanup.)

  4.  Simmer. Add the broth to the pot and briskly simmer the mixture over medium to medium-low heat for about 2 hours for all the flavors to come together and mellow. If the mole has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little water. Taste and season with salt (usually about 4 teaspoons) and the sugar.You're now ready to make Lacquered Chicken or you can cool, cover and refrigerate until you're ready to use. When you're ready to proceed, rewarm the mole.


  1. Nicely done recipe. By the way Mexican Canela is actually Ceylon Cinnamon. Mexico is the biggest importer of Ceylon Cinnamon from the Island of Sri Lanka and has low Coumarin levels that will NOT damage your liver, unlike Cassia Cinnamon.

    This recipe works best with Ceylon Cinnamon or also called Mexican Canela because the taste is very smooth and not harsh like the Cassia type cinnamon available in US. Ceylon Cinnamon has notes of clove and citrus which gives this dish that characteristic taste.

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