HEARTH’s Chef-in-Residence, Tim Byres, shares his take on a traditional mole recipe. Mole, which comes from the Nahuatl word ‘mōlli’, meaning sauce, is a (vegan!) staple of Mexican cuisine and, due to its many possible ingredients—some native to the Americas and others to Europe—encapsulates the agricultural diversity and tumultuous history of modern-day Mexico. Mole recipes have traditionally been region-specific and even family specific, passed down from generation to generation. This is not the first mole or the last mole, but our take on mole—our way of honoring the dish. It will take a bit of time to make, but it is well worth it! Every step is another layer of flavor that when allowed to come together creates something otherworldly. Play around with the chiles and vegetables you use to come up with your own unique take on this time-honored dish!
|1/4 cup||olive oil|
|8-10||de-seeded ancho chile|
|4||de-seeded chipotle chile|
|2 cups||water/vegetable stock|
|1/2 cup||toasted sesame seeds|
|3/4 cup||toasted pumpkin seeds|
|1/4 cup||piloncillo sugar (or brown sugar)|
|3 tbsp||red wine vinegar|
|–||kosher salt to taste|
Remember that this sauce is seasoned in layers, developing richer, deeper flavors. First, salt the heirloom carrots and heavily char them along with the onions. The onions are done when the outside is completely blackened. There is a fine line between a good char and burnt, so be careful! Heavy charring, while it may look overdone, improves the flavor of the mole. Even though the outside of the onion is blackened the inner layers will be progressively less cooked which is perfect for us. Roasting over a fire is preferable to fuse the smoky flavors from wood, but hard broiling in an oven or grilling will work great too.
For the vegetable garnish, char any vegetables of your choice.
Sauté the garlic in olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, charred carrots and water/vegetable stock. Once cooked down, add in the seeded chiles and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes until aromatic and the chile skins begin falling apart. If you want your mole spicier, let it cook down for longer.
Remove from flame and place contents in a blender. Blend thoroughly. Blend in the toasted pumpkin seeds and toasted sesame seeds. (The pumpkin seeds like being blistered over high heat, whereas the sesame likes a gentler heat. The seeds add a great fragrance and dimension of butteriness—one of the many layers of flavor in this dish.)
Add the shaved piloncillo sugar. “Piloncillo” is Spanish for pylon, called this because of the cone-shape the raw cane sugar is formed into. Piloncillo, also known as Mexican brown sugar, adds a rich, chocolatey, and dark-malty element to the mole. Yet another layer of flavor! You can find it at a local Mexican grocery store or may use brown sugar instead.
Add in red wine vinegar. After the mole is all mixed up, it’s ready to serve! If you want the flavor to deepen and become richer, place the finished mole into a covered pot and let stand with a low heat for 2-4 hours to slowly incorporate. For this optional step you can put the pot in an oven with a low heat or a crock pot on a low setting. The mole is great out of the blender, but over the course of a few hours and a few days, watch as the flavors change!
To serve, heat the mole over a low flame and place the roasted vegetable garnish on top. Add lemon and a drizzle of honey to the vegetables for a little bit of sweet and sourness and you’re all done. Great job—you made mole! Enjoy all your hard work!