A Tale of Two Moles
Enrique Olvera is a renowned chef from Mexico City who is recognized for his restaurant, Pujol and it’s cuisine. Pujol has consistently been ranked as a top world restaurants for many years. A signature plate of his restaurant is mole sauce served solo, that is, mole served on a plate as the singular ingredient. This is unheard of because mole is always served typically with poultry, meat or as a sauce for enchiladas.
Nexflix’s “Chef’s Table” episode of Enrique Olvera (season 2 episode 4) he serves mole as a botana (snack, appetizer). Nobody does this in any Mexican restaurant, but it really makes sense. Moles can stand alone as they are quite complex, sometimes made with 25 ingredients or more. UNESCO has designated Mexican cuisine as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” and mole is a “plato nactional” (National dish). For this reason, I think Chef Olvera showcases mole by plating it unaccompanied.
As you’ll see below Enrique layers two moles. The bottom mole is dark in color and it’s topped with a different mole of lighter color. As my second mole, I selected to use a Mole Amarillo (yellow). The recipe was selected and adapted from the cookbook titled “The Food and Life of Qaxaca”, 1997. Mole amarillo is a very simple recipe but the sauce won’t really be yellow. It comes out more of an orange shade. It’s light, tart and refreshing and great as a general sauce for braised meats and enchiladas. The other mole in this recipe, the base mole, is Mole Negro from Oaxaca. I use the commercial brand “La Soledad”, an excellent mole made in Oaxaca, Mexico. Let’s get started.
Makes 2 ½ cups
4 guajillo chiles seeds and stems removed
3 large tomatillos
1 large green tomato
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
10 black peppercorns
8 whole cloves or ¼ teaspoon ground
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh masa or 2 teaspoons masa harina mixed with 2 tablespoons water
1 cup of commercial dark mole, mole negro preferred
Makes 1 ½ cup s
3 oz mole (red, negro or poblano)
1½ cups chicken broth
2 eggs hard boiled halved
Preparation of Quajillo peppers
Press “Red Chile Sauce” to link to instructions.
Prepare Mole Amarillo
Grind the peppercorns and cloves together in an electric coffee or spice grinder. Add the tomatillos, onion, and garlic into 6 cups of boiling water and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until soft. Remove the ingredients and place in a blender jar and allow to cool.
Add the ground spices and a cup of cooking water to the blender jar and process to a smooth purée. Force the tomatillo purée and guajillo red sauce through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl to remove solids. In a medium size saucepan, heat the lard over medium heat until rippling. Add the puréed sauce and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt to taste. Sauce can be prepared a day ahead.
In a small bowl, mix the masa with ½ cup water and whisk into the sauce. Bring back to a simmer and cook, whisk constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes.
Prepare Mole Negro
Place the mole paste in a sauté pan. Use a wooden spoon or stiff spatula to breakup the mole paste and add chicken broth in small amounts to achieve the consistency of pancake batter that slowly runs off the spoon. Simmer for 15 minutes, Set aside.
Plating the dish
Slowly pour 1/3 cup of mole negro in a round plate and very slowly swirl the plate to form a circle of sauce. Slowly pour the mole amarillo over the negro and slowly repeat the swirling action to form a second concentric circle. Top with egg. Serve with fresh warm corn tortillas.
There are many different moles to include Poblano, Negro, Coloradito, Amarillo, Verde, Pipián and others from Mexican families that maintain mole traditions through generations. Use any remaining sauce to make chicken enchiladas.
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