Coarse Heirloom Corn Mole

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico


By Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral

Published 2019

  • About

This is a minimalist mole, where corn plays a major part in its complexity. The corn is coarse and adds a tender, chunky texture to the mole sauce. I suggest you double the recipe, because this mole will have you reaching for seconds.


For the Pork

  • ½ cup (100 g) dried field corn
  • pounds (1.6 kg) pork spine, chopped by your butcher and trimmed of excess fat (can be substituted with pork shank)
  • ¼ of a small white onion (25 g)
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • tablespoons sea salt

For the Mole

  • 10 guajillo chiles (50 g), stems and seeds removed
  • 2 chiles de árbol, stems and seeds removed
  • 6 freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 4 freshly ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 hoja santa leaves
  • ½ cup (55 g) chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • cups (225 g) chopped tomatoes
  • Sea salt


In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast the corn for 7 to 10 minutes, moving the corn around with a spatula to make sure it all gets evenly toasted. Let cool. Put the corn in a blender or food processor. Pulse until the corn is coarsely chopped but not ground.

Soak the chopped corn in a large mixing bowl full of water for 20 minutes. The corn skins should float to the top; remove them with a double-fine-mesh strainer. You may have to rinse the corn again a few more times to remove all the skins. Once the corn rinsing water runs clear, drain the corn.

Fill a large pot with 3 quarts (3 L) of water and bring to a boil. Add the pork, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes, skimming all impurities that rise to the top. Add the onion and garlic and keep simmering for another 1½ to 2 hours. Reserve 1 cup of broth.

While the pork is cooking, heat a comal or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Toast the chiles well on both sides. Bring 3 cups (720 ml) of water to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the chiles, and let soak for 30 minutes or until they are completely softened.

In the same comal or skillet over medium heat, quickly toast the spices until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Blend the spices in a molcajete or spice grinder.

Heat your oven’s broiler to its low setting. On a baking sheet, broil the garlic and onion for 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a blender, combine the soaked chiles with 1 cup (240 ml) of their soaking liquid, the roasted onion, garlic, and toasted, ground spices. Blend until completely smooth. Add crushed, soaked corn and pulse until the corn is broken down into a coarse, chunky texture and set aside.

After the pork has simmered for an hour, remove the garlic and onion. Add the chile and corn mixture to the pot. Add 1 cup of reserved broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Add more broth if needed for a thick, heavy cream texture.

After 30 minutes, add the hoja santa, thyme, oregano, tomatoes, and the chile and spice mixture to the simmering meat broth. Keep simmering for another 2 hours. Mix the corn bits around a bit so they don’t stick to bottom of the pot while cooking. After 2 hours of cooking, the dried corn bits should be tender and al dente. Season with salt and serve.