One of the most common questions we get at the restaurant is about the differences among moles. It’s not just the color. The flavor profiles of the red, black, green, yellow, coloradito, chichilo, and every other mole are very different. The red and black moles are the closest in flavor, because they share a lot of the same ingredients, but a few chiles and techniques change in the process. Unlike mole negro, where the chiles are fried to achieve a glossy, pitch-black color, mole rojo calls for the dried chiles to be smoked or dry-roasted. In Oaxaca, trimming, seeding, and roasting the chiles becomes a social gathering. At these gatherings, spicy dark smoke overflows the house and penetrates every inch of your hair and clothing. I absolutely love it. The smell of roasted chiles will forever remind me of my grandma, great-aunts, and every woman in my family. When I make this recipe at home, where I don’t have an outdoor comal and want to minimize the smoke inside, I opt to toast the chiles briefly, laid out on a baking sheet. It’s a great hack to give those chiles the perfect layer of smoke and toast but still stay in total control.
Carefully place the ancho chiles on a baking sheet with a rim and
Repeat this process with the chilhuacle chiles, but toast them for 4 minutes. Repeat with the guajillo chiles for only 3 minutes. Once all the chiles are toasted, let cool.
In a comal or skillet over medium heat, individually toast the sesame seeds, almonds, and peanuts in batches until lightly browned and aromatic. Be very careful not to burn them. Set aside.
In the same comal or skillet over medium heat, toast the thyme, oregano, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, and cinnamon. Grind the spices in a molcajete or spice grinder until finely ground and set aside.
In the largest skillet you own, heat
In another saucepan over medium heat, combine the tomatoes and tomatillos with
In two batches, add
In a 5-quart (
When the oil is hot, carefully add this blended mixture and mix well.
Remove the chiles from the hot water and reserve 1 cup (
Blend the cooked tomato and tomatillo mixture until smooth. Pass it through a double-fine-mesh strainer and add that to the simmering mixture as well.
Add the bay leaves, sugar, chocolate, and salt to the mole mixture and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and taste for salt. When the sweet and salty flavors are balanced, the mole sauce is ready. You’ve just made one of Oaxaca’s most prized moles.
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