Puebla: Ole Mole

Ingredients for mole poblano

Like many Americans, I think of mole as the dark chocolate chile sauce served over chicken – the sauce so complex and rich that I sometimes eat it with a spoon trying to catch all of the subtle flavors. This mole, mole poblano, is but one of many moles made in Mexico, the word “mole” having been derived from a pre-Hispanic term for sauce. Today in Mexico, travelers will find many types of mole, the only unifying factor the fact that each sauce contains chile peppers.

But I digress.  I was in Puebla, home of mole poblano, to learn to make what some call the national dish of Mexico. I had always heard that mole poblano took many ingredients and much time; the complexity of flavors it contains indicated as much.  But as I learned during my hands on cooking class at Mesones Sacristia de la Compania, mole poblano can be made by any home cook with determination and a good blender.

Mesones Sacristia offers guests a variety of cooking classes from one to six days. I love the idea of learning about a region through its cooking, especially with a cuisine as sophisticated as Mexico’s. Our class was taught by Executive Chef Alonso Hernandez who was ably assisted by Lizbet Hernandez Casares.

Chef Alonso with the finished mole poblano

You will need a more detailed recipe with amounts before embarking on mole-making, but this will give you an idea of how these ingredients come together for mole poblano:

  • Remove the stem and seeds from mulato, ancho and pasilla chiles, then roast the tomatoes, onions and garlic
  • Fry chiles to get a crispy texture
  • Boil the vegetables and chiles, then blend all of the ingredients and strain
  • Fry the plantains and burn the corn tortillas, then blend them with water
  •  Combine with the sauce along with the spices, sugar and chocolate, simmering for 25 minutes

During my stay in Puebla, I ate mole poblano at almost every meal. Such is the greatness of this sauce that I never tired of eating it. As one tourist pamphlet described it, eating mole poblano is like eating a mouthful of joy.

 

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Catherine Stribling About Catherine Stribling

Catherine Stribling has written non-fiction books, magazine articles, teleplays for NYPD Blue and JAG as well as DogWhisperer.  JohnnyJet.com has taught her that travel writing is no vacation, but it is way more fun than sitting behind a desk.

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