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Oaxacan Mole Negro

Serves

serves 8

Cooks In

All day

Difficulty

Tricky

Oaxaca is famous for it moles and maybe the most famous of all of their moles, is Mole Negro. It is a celebratory mole, because of the rarity and expense of one of the chillies used, the Chile Chilhuacle Negro and because of the process which involves burning the chillies and their seeds to obtain its beautiful colour and deep roasted flavours. So turn on the extract and open the windows, there is no way around it, this recipe makes you cough, however the delicious coffee notes obtained from this severe toasting are well worth the effort. As with all moles it is a balancing act of sweet, salty, acid flavours. For those fans of roasted, toasted and extreme flavours this is a mole for you. To serve: Mole is all about the sauce, lots of sauce, the chicken or plantain (for a vegan option) served with it, is just there for something to bite, eat with a lots of corn tortillas, some white Mexican rice is a nice addition too. Pro tip: weigh out all of your ingredients before you start cooking, it makes the process so much easier.

Method

This recipe was honed and perfected by Adriana Solis Cavita, a great Mexican chef who lives in London, thank you!

Handy Equipment:

  • cast iron frying pan
  • tongs
  • spatula
  • wooden spoon
  • blow torch
  • blender or stick blender with a jug
  • medium mesh sieve
  • large sauce pan with lid or clay cazuela

Prepare and roast the chillies, seeds and tortilla.

Discard stem and deseed the chillies collecting the seeds over a bowl as you go. 

Put a cast iron dry pan over medium high heat, allow to get hot. Turn on extract, open windows. Open the chillies so they are as flat as possible and one at a time with a spatula, wooden spoon or similar, place them on the surface of the hot pan, the inside of the chilli should be facing down, press the chilli down with the spatula ensuring that all the inside surface area is in contact with the hot pan. Keep pressing, you will see smoke and hear crackling, make sure you press the edges of the chilli to roast evenly, then flip, the underside of the chilli should be all black with no visible brown or tan spots, if it isn't then turn back so the inside of the chilli is face down and press again where it needs it, when completely black on this side flip the chilli and toast the skin side. This will not take as long, the chilli actuals puffs and becomes crisp like a wafer with a strong roasted coffee smell. As each chillies is roasted place them in bowl filled with warm tap water, continue roasting roasting each chilli, add more water as needed to keep submerged.

When you have finished the chillies, take 10g of the reserved chilli seeds and place them in the hot pan to burn, stir with a wooden spoon, they will pop and jump about, they might even catch fire this is ok, just keep stirring until they all are black. Add them to the soaking chillies.

Next place the tortilla into the hot pan to burn, use a blow torch to set the tortilla on fire, then place in the water with the chillies and seeds. Use a small plate to keep the chillies submerged in the water. Soak for 30 – 60 minutes.

Toasting the seeds, nuts, raisins, spices, avocado leaves, Mexican oregano and fresh thyme

Carefully wipe out the burnt crumbs from the cast iron pan, lower the heat to medium, we are no longer roasting until black but toasting until golden and fragrant.  First toast the sesame seeds until deeply golden, remove to a medium bowl. Next toast the pecans and almonds until browned in places and fragrant, remove to the bowl. Then toast the raisins until puffed, remove to the bowl. Then toast the allspice, cloves, star aniseed and cinnamon until fragrant, add to the bowl. Then toast the avocado leaves, quickly by pressing them on the hot surface of the pan, remove to the bowl. Add the Mexican oregano to the pan and stir until an beautiful aroma emerges, quickly add to the bowl before it scorches. Lastly toast the thyme on the stems until fragrant and add to the bowl. Reserve.

Charring the tomatillos, tomatoes, onion, plantain and garlic

In the same pan over medium heat, place the above ingredients, turn frequently to cook evenly, remove the ingredients to a bowl as they are cooked, garlic should be soft, plantain skin will go black but wait unit soft in the middle before removing, onion should be blackened in places and soft, tomatoes and tomatillos should be soft and black in places. Reserve.

Boiling all of the roasted, toasted and charred ingredients with stock

Drain the chillies, seeds and tortilla, place them in a saucepan large enough to hold all the other toasted ingredients plus the stock. Add the toasted ingredients from the seed bowl. Remove the skin from the garlic and plantain, add this to the pan plus the rest of the charred vegetables, add the stock. Bring to a gentle boil with a lid and cook for 5 -10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for 20 minutes to soften the seeds ready for blending.

Blending the ingredients

Blend in 3 batches with the cooking liquid, blend each batch thoroughly to be as smooth as possible, adding the puree from each blend to a bowl. Reserve.

Searing and cooking the puree

In a wide saucepan, heat the fat of your choice over medium heat until shimmering and rippling. Being very careful of splatters, quickly add the puree to the hot fat, stir to calm down, reducing the heat as needed. Stir constantly as you cook the puree for about 30 minutes, stirring and scrapping.

Seasoning the puree

Next season your Mole Negro with the Mexican chocolate, sugar and salt, stirring well to incorporate.

Sieve the puree

Sieve the seared and cooked puree through medium mesh sieve either into a clean pot or suitable storage container if you want to refrigerate and finish the mole another day, it will hold in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze. At this point this is your puree is now a paste and you will need to add stock to make it in to a sauce.

Serving

Mole Negro with chicken:

  • 1 litre chicken stock (or 2 stock cubes and water)
  • 2 packets of Bakers Dozen 15cm corn tortillas
  • white rice for 8 (optional)
  • 1 x 1.6-1.8kg free range chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Cut 1 chicken into 8 pieces, 2 legs, 2 thighs and cut each breast into half making 4 pieces, salt generously and allow to sit for 30 minutes. With the mole in a suitable pot, add stock until the consistency of double cream (you might not use all of it), bring it gently to a simmer whilst stirring, then nestle in the legs and thighs, cook for about 15 minutes partially covered, then nestle in the breast pieces and continue cooking partially covered for another 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Adjust seasoning, adding a touch of sugar to balance (this can be more than you would normally use, the sugar actually enhances the salty savoury flavours so do this first) and salt sparingly if needed (salt can cancel out the sweet nuances so careful). Serve in shallow bowls one piece of chicken per person with lots of mole, serve with white rice and corn tortillas on the side.

Mole Negro with plantain

  • 1 litre vegetable stock (or 2 stock cubes with water)
  • 2 packets of Bakers dozen15cm corn tortillas
  • white rice for 8
  • 4 ripe plantain
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut oil

Turn on the oven to warm, peel plantain and cut length ways then cut in half so each plantain yields 4 pieces, 16 pieces in total. Heat coconut oil in a cast iron pan and when hot add the pieces of plantain in batches. Place the pieces with the flat side up and squish slightly with a potato masher or a metal spatula. The idea is to flatten the round side so it cooks for evenly. Cook until deep yellow and soft, remove to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm in the oven. Salt the plantain lightly. Put the Mole Negro paste in a sauce pan and add enough stock to make it the consistency of double cream (you might not use all of it), bring it gently to a simmer whilst stirring. Adjust seasoning, adding a touch of sugar to balance (this can be more than you would normally use, the sugar actually enhances the salty savoury flavours, so do this first) and salt sparingly if needed (salt can cancel out the sweet nuances, so careful). Serve in shallow bowls, 2 pieces of plantain per person with lots of mole, serve with white rice and corn tortillas on the side.

Save left over sauce for emoladas or tacos, muy rico!