mole negro oaxaqueno (and pssst… a contest!)

March 5th, 2008 · 72 Comments


it’s a long story. but it all began about 2 weeks ago when i decided to cook lunch for the better part of the editorial staff of the nashville scene, our local free press. because i love them over there. because they are smart and funny and cool. and because they have a food blog called "bites" to which i am quite attached, as well as being an all too frequent commenter.

but i didn’t offer to cook just any old lunch. i mean, i could have easily brought them beef wellington or moussaka, a peking duck or a wedding cake – or any random recipe out of the ‘french laundry cookbook‘. but no. i decided to make them an authentic oaxacan black mole. something i knew nothing about. zero. zippo. nada. and i must admit that whenever i’d eaten it before, and it hadn’t been lately – the tequilla must have kicked in early on because i haven’t any recollection of the many flavor layers and subtle nuances of this highly esteemed mexican dish – the mole negro.

i was a mole making virgin. and yes, blood was shed… 29 ingredients, eleventy million steps and 7 hours later – after one flesh wound, 4 burns and almost crying (but only once), i pulled myself together, channeling my inner mexican grandmother from a past life – and i somehow had me some majorly kick ass mole. i kid you not. the results are in. i rock. the eastern european jew from nyc who was only in mexico for 3 days on the carnival cruise fun ship from hell – i give myself a solid A-. yes indeed. i lost points for what i believe was not toasting my chili’s long enough for fear of burning them, therefore losing a degree of depth of flavor AND i couldn’t get my chili seeds to ignite with a match after i’d blackened them (i mean wtf?). but besides that i was golden. a kitchen blow torch would’ve come in very handy… but alas with the 147 kitchen appliances and various implements of the culinary kind, i am somehow sans torch.


claudia, (the press asks) where did you get the recipe and how ever did you decide which one to use? well, (clearing my throat) first of all, thank you so much for asking and for recognizing the greatness of my efforts and allow me to tell you all about it, because a lot of thought and consideration went into the process of finding this award winning recipe. firstly, somehow i lost my rick bayliss cookbook in my divorce to a man who rarely cooks. so after dwelling in the moderate amount of anger that this brought up, i popped a xanax and turned to google. after looking at about 15 versions, i narrowed it down to 2 recipes that seemed to have the right vibe of authenticity (aka complication). one was plucked from a very cool 2005 post that waxed poeticly about the history of mole and included a romantic sounding recipe featuring the mole negro ‘from "Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey through Oaxaca, Mexico" by Susana Trilling’

while the other was a recipe from emeril. the BAM man.

Emeril Lagasse films Emeril Live!

(new york times)

and you just gotta know that emeril’s tv personna is so very grating to me – and that i therefore put him in the same category as rachel ray, and the rest of the food network yokels. (yes, yes, there are exceptions…) but then tony, you know… my tony, well he set me straight, after he apologized for bad mouthing emeril as he had done in his book ‘kitchen confidential’ – now saying that the guy really was a good guy – and a true chef. but still. BAM? i don’t do BAM. i do NPT. and so i went with Susana. my new BFF. and then today, just because, i decided to google "Seasons of My Heart", having no clue what any of that was all about and discovered that it was featured in a FOOD NETWORK special broadcast from a series called ‘Tasting Mexico’. and then i died. BAM. the end.

Mole Negro Oaxaqueno
from Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey through Oaxaca, Mexico by Susana Trilling

4 large onions, chopped, plus 1 medium onion, quartered
8 ribs celery, chopped
8 carrots, chopped
2 (3 pound) chickens, cut into 12 pieces, skinned
5 chilhuacles negros, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved (*i used mulato chili’s as chilhuacles are very hard to procure)
5 guajillos, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved
4 pasillas Mexicanos, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved
4 anchos negros, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved
2 chipotles mecos, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved
1/2 head garlic, cloves separated
2 tablespoons whole almonds 2 tablespoons shelled and skinned raw peanuts
1 (1-inch) piece Mexican cinnamon
3 black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 1/2 tablespoons raisins
1 slice egg-dough bread
1 small ripe plantain, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2-cup sesame seeds
2 pecan halves
1/2 pound chopped tomatoes
1/4 pound chopped tomatillos
1 sprig thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 sprig Oaxacan oregano, or 1/2 tsp. dried
2 tablespoons lard
4 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate
1 avocado leaf
Salt, to taste

In a 2 gallon stockpot, heat 5 quarts water and onions, celery, and carrots to a boil. Add chicken pieces and poach, covered, over low heat for about 35 to 45 minutes, until cooked through and juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Remove the meat from the stock. Strain and reserve the stock.


Heat 2 quarts of water in a kettle. On a 10-inch dry comal, griddle, or in a cast-iron frying pan, toast the chiles over medium heat until blackened, but not burnt, about 10 minutes. Place the chiles in a large bowl, cover with hot water, and soak for 1/2 hour. Remove the chiles from the soaking water with tongs, placing small batches in a blender with 1/4 cup of the chile soaking water to blend smooth. Put the chile puree through a strainer to remove the skins.


In the same dry comal, griddle, or frying pan, grill the onion and garlic over medium heat for 10 minutes. Set aside. Toast the almonds, peanuts, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and cloves in a dry comal, griddle or cast-iron frying pan for about 5 minutes. Remove them from the pan.


Over the same heat, toast the chile seeds, taking care to blacken but not burn them, about 20 minutes. Try to do this outside or in a well-ventilated place because the seeds will give off very strong fumes. When the seeds are completely black, light them with a match and let them burn themselves out. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Soak the blackened seeds in 1 cup of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain the seeds and grind them in a blender for about 2 minutes. Add the blended chile seeds to the blended chile mixture.


Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in an 8-inch cast-iron frying pan over medium heat until smoking. Add the raisins and fry them until they are plump, approximately 1 minute. Remove from the pan. Fry the bread slice in the same oil until browned, about 5 minutes, over medium heat. Remove from pan. Fry the plantain in the same oil until it is well browned, approximately 10 minutes, over medium heat. Set aside.



Fry the sesame seeds, stirring constantly over low heat, adding more oil if needed. When the sesame seeds start to brown, about 5 minutes, add the pecans and brown for 2 minutes more. Remove all from the pan, let cool, and grind finely in a spice grinder. It takes a bit of time, but this is the only way to grind the seeds and nuts finely enough.


Wipe out the frying pan and fry the tomatoes, tomatillos, thyme, and oregano over medium to high heat, allowing the juices to almost evaporate, about 15 minutes. Blend well, using 1/2 cup of reserved stock if needed to blend and set aside. Place the nuts, bread, plantains, raisins, onion, garlic and spices in the blender in small batches, and blend well, adding about 1 cup of stock to make it smooth.


In a heavy 4-quart stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of lard or oil until smoking and fry the chile paste over medium to low heat, stirring constantly so it will not burn, approximately 20 minutes. When it is dry, add the tomato puree and fry until the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the ground ingredients, including the sesame seed paste, to the pot. Stir constantly with a wooden soon until well-incorporated, about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock to the mole, stir well, and allow to cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Break up the chocolate and add to the pot, stirring until it is melted and incorporated into the mixture. Toast the avocado leaf briefly over the flame if you have a gas range or in a dry frying pan and then add it to the pot. Slowly add more stock to the mole, as it will keep thickening as it cooks. Add enough salt to bring out the flavor. Let simmer another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it does not stick, adding stock as needed. The mole should not be thick; just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.


Place the cooked chicken pieces in the leftover stock in a saucepan and heat through. To serve, place a piece of chicken in a shallow bowl and ladle 3/4 of a cup of mole sauce over to cover it completely. Serve immediately with lots of hot corn tortillas. (ceF note – as a final step, i strained the mole when i was completely finished in order to remove any final grit)

ok – so a couple of things: 1. i am NEVER EVER making this again, even though it was great and 2. therefore i have decided to hold the first ceF contest in the long and distinguished history of this blog. to enter, you just need to leave a comment and then this random number generator will pick 2 winners and you will both receive the following 14 ingredients in quantities enough to make one recipe of the aforementioned mole negro oaxaqueno: guajillo, pasilla, ancho and chipotle chili peppers raw peanuts mexican cinnamon cloves and peppercorns raisins sesame seeds pecan halves mexican oregano mexican chocolate avocado leaves


this should give you quite the head start to making a muy bueno mole negro that will impress the masses and make you famous in influential circles across the universe. guaranteed or your money back. deadline for comment entries is midnight on monday march 10. so go ahead and click on ‘comment’ and you too could be slaving in your kitchen for an entire day preparing the much revered mexican mole negro – soon to be worshiped by your friends and family.

a little worship is a beautiful thing…

Tags: mexican

72 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Shane // Mar 9, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Wowzers. That is really impressive and daunting. maybe I’ll take a day off of work if I win just to make sure I have the proper time and focus. Thanks for the post!

  • 2 Tori // Mar 10, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Incredible, really admire your persistence in staying the course with this dish! Love your detailed account of the experience, and maybe maybe I can have the opportunity to try my hand at this in the near future!

  • 3 Ian // Mar 10, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Looks awesome. Srsly.

  • 4 Sam // Mar 10, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    wow. This recipe is calling to me. the grad student in me is saying don’t make it and study instead, but my stomach is saying FEED ME.

  • 5 Danelle Toner // Mar 10, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    This is the first post I’ve read of yours and already a contest! Yeah! Pick me! Actually, I can promise that if I am lucky enough to win I would be thrilled to attempt this dish! I am 1/2 Mexican and my maternal grandmother is famous for her mole. I’ve been wanting to cook something for her that might impress her and I bet if I did this right I would be famous in her eyes. Thanks for the post!

  • 6 Meg // Mar 11, 2008 at 10:17 am

    I wanted to wait until the deadline for entering was over, because although your mole looks amazing, and your story is hysterically funny, I have long been aware that I have no ambition to make mole, and the best way to get mole is to find a place that’s good at making it. Still, that was hilarious. And way to impress the staff.

  • 7 LaLaLand // Mar 17, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    My brother and I made the Rick Bayless Mole Negro, and it was an all-day process. Having said that, there are several more things worth mentioning: first, it makes a bunch of mole, and you can jar/ziploc portions and freeze to use later; second, be sure to wear old clothes you don’t care about permanently staining; third, save the chile soak water to make rice with, it’s insanely good. We had so much mole that we made two different types of tamales with it (chicken and pork) plus a whole chicken. That took another entire day, but was so worth the effort. He took it to his favorite mexican restaurant and they told him it was muy autentico. I took some home and made a batch for my family and neighbors, and STILL had some left in the freezer. Verdict: lots of work, but lots of mole too.

  • 8 cook eat FRET - chickpea and shrimp // Apr 6, 2008 at 11:32 am

    […] put to task regularly and by choice – and i love it.  every now and then i’ll make something totally out of my comfort zone but pretty much the food i am cooking is ingredient driven, and simple. chickpea and shrimp  […]

  • 9 Beth // Jul 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I am laughing so hard there’s tears in my eyes. when I was about 14 , and bored on a long afternoon with my mom gone, my girlfriend and i decided to try to make “chocolate chile sauce” from a kind of comic book cook book that i had. everything went well till the “put everything in the blender and turn it on” stage. We forgot the part about holding the lid down and woosh! the whole mess was all over my mon’s (super) clean kitchen walls and ceiling. And of course before we could get it cleaned up in walks mom…last time I ever made mole, that’s for sure.

  • 10 amoxcalli // Aug 7, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    As someone who has parents that sneak Oaxacan Mole into the country every time they visit Oaxaca this looks like a pretty good result. My Oaxacan grandmother (and father) would be impressed. My Mom makes Mole Negro for my birthday every year. I love it so much I could use it as a face mask, take a bath in it, baptize my first born in it…you get the idea.
    I have the Susana Trilling book, its pretty authentic though my Mom has a US version of Mole that isn’t so demanding. She uses plain PB instead of the nuts, for example and she doesnt fry anything. She justs toasts everything. The taste is still wonderful but with a little less stress (My Oaxacan grandmother gave her this recipe)

    Do it again! It gets easier every time you do it.

  • 11 Rosa // Aug 27, 2008 at 11:54 am

    As much as I love making things from scratch, INCLUDING mole (the more difficult and involved things are, the better) , I must recommend the mole paste/base or whatever you want to call it by Cocina Rustica, which I recently purchased at Target. Yes. Yes. I have tried the Mole Oaxaqueño and Mole Verde, the latter not nearly as delicious as the first. SO easy, just add some low sodium chicken broth to the desired thick- or thin-ness. NOT like the awful Doña Maria or Bueno or other brands that aren’t even worth doctoring. I live in the S.F Valley and found it at my local Target (Don’t know WHAT made me want to try it). A time-saver and a blessing when you have that awful craving for mole. Also, any of Rick Bayless’ or Diana Kennedy, or, if you really want to put yourself through lots of pain (but SO worth the effort), any recipe from Patricia Quintana’s books… I’ve tried several of their recipes and have not been disappointed. :)

  • 12 Vincent // Oct 6, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    I will certainly try that recipe over the weekend! It looks awesome!

  • 13 Mary Harrington // Nov 14, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Re: the Avocado Leaf. Not just any avocado leaf will do, only the Mexican avocado has the required anise flavor – crush a leaf in your hand and you will know.
    There are 3 types of avocado trees: Guatemalan, Mexican and West Indian. The Mexican are the most cold hardy. Cultivars Fuerte and Mexicola are examples of Mexican avocados.
    I live in Southern California so I just go outside and pick a leaf from a tree I know is fragrant.

  • 14 ruth greenwood // Feb 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    think i could substitute something (or nothing) for the nuts? if I make it as is, allergies would keep everyone but me from eating it…hey, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing!

    THIS is the kind of cooking that really turns me on, although I don’t often go to quite this length (and so I am VERY impressed)…my fantasy would be to have a LIBRARY of fresh and dried herbs and spices from A to Z…

    your blog will soon cost Weight Watchers’ points just to read–yum!

  • 15 katiek // Mar 20, 2009 at 6:15 pm


    I really like this site. I am researching and cooking mole negro tomorrow.

    I read your post and will definitely use it for reference. I actually was able to procure chihuacle chiles by calling a woman who will bring them to the farmer’s market. Very excited.

    Anyways, I was just wondering if you had any words of advice that were not included in the above post.


  • 16 User links about "anthonybourdain" on iLinkShare // Mar 29, 2009 at 1:33 am

    […] 30 days ago2 votesNon-fiction books read in 2007 and beyond>> saved by tmeisen47 33 days ago1 votesmole negro oaxaqueno (and pssst… a contest!)>> saved by holon67 33 days ago5 votesMy Last Supper — Existential Questions>> saved by luffyfan209 […]

  • 17 Chef Clay Greenberg // Aug 5, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Thanks for the positive vibes in BITES about my upcoming restaurant, Chez Lis. I figured when we messed around working on the pig’s trotters recipe here at the house and Lily, then 6 was all into the squish, splish and splosh of getting the tiny bones out without a wince and then wolfed them down that I probably had a winner.

    Anyway, we used to do a mole from scratch at Lime of which I was very proud. The kitchen staff (who would know) said it was the real deal. We used toasted pumpkin seeds instead of almonds but still very similar.

    I basically wanted to pass on from New Mexico the next time you need to get your chile itch scratched. Their anchos and mulatos smell like sweet prunes when you open the bags. The flesh is still moist and leathery, not dried up like paper as they are at most markets here.

    Buen Provecho!

  • 18 Chloe // Sep 10, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Ha ha, Sounds tempting, but I don’t know if I dear to do it.

  • 19 cook eat FRET - a mexican fiesta // Jul 31, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    […] a total major production – if not reminiscent of my all too recent and never to be repeated mole making experience. joanna remarked how the mole would be even better the next day and i told her it was too bad that […]

  • 20 Book cook emeril lagasse recipe - Live recipe - Recipes cookbook // Nov 6, 2010 at 11:48 am

    […] Cook eat FRET – mole negro oaxaqueno (and pssst… a contest!) 5 Mar 2008. while the other was a recipe from emeril. the BAM man…. I've got the Mark Bayless book that I think you are missing and I make his mole recipe… I live in the S.F Valley and found it at my local Target (Don't Cook eat FRET – mole negro oaxaqueno (and pssst… a contest!) […]

  • 21 Book cook emeril live recipe - Live recipe - Recipes cookbook // Nov 7, 2010 at 12:42 am

    […] Cook eat FRET – mole negro oaxaqueno (and pssst… a contest!) 5 Mar 2008. while the other was a recipe from emeril. the BAM man…. I've got the Mark Bayless book that I think you are missing and I make his mole recipe… I live in the S.F Valley and found it at my local Target (Don't Cook eat FRET – mole negro oaxaqueno (and pssst… a contest!) […]

  • 22 SippitySup » Chili That Was “Born in the Sauce” // Apr 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    […] athletic enough, to attempt to make a mole sauce from scratch. It’s an arduous process of seeding, roasting, drying, grinding, mixing, tasting and waiting. Too may steps to go into […]

  • 23 // Sep 20, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I visit everyday some sites and sites to read articles, however this weblog provides feature based articles.

  • 24 Denise // Jan 24, 2016 at 6:46 am

    Hi my name is Denise and I just wanted to drop you a quick note here instead of calling you. I came to your claudia young – mole negro oaxaqueno (and pssst… a contest!) page and noticed you could have a lot more visitors. I have found that the key to running a popular website is making sure the visitors you are getting are interested in your subject matter. There is a company that you can get targeted visitors from and they let you try the service for free for 7 days. I managed to get over 300 targeted visitors to day to my website. Check it out here:

  • 25 sac longchamp soldes // Feb 5, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    sac longchamp soldes sacs longchamp noir pas cher\n demander de femme

Leave a Comment