If you’ve ever been to a Latin restaurant and seen the words Mexican mole on the menu, you probably know that it’s a traditional sauce used in Mexican cuisine, but you don’t really have any clue what it is, what it is made from, or what it tastes like. But that’s about to change, because we have some mole recipes that will change your life—and no we’re not being dramatic. Let’s back up; what exactly is mole (pronounced mo-lay)? According to Serious Eats, mole is “a literal and figurative melting pot of fragrant herbs and local chilies enriched with dozens of other ingredients—a mother sauce and a traveler’s guide to everything this state has to offer.” Mole comes from Oaxaca, a southern Mexican state that is “Mexico’s primary exporter of mezcal and a famed producer of chocolate.” In addition, this state is sometimes called the land of seven moles (though there are a lot more than 7 varieties of this sauce). As per Epicurious, these mole sauces—and there are many varieties— are “intricate sauces, made by toasting and grinding spices, seeds, and chiles, are truly the hallmark of the region.”
Mole sauce is served with everything from turkey to pork to vegetarian dishes, and while the preparation and final dish may vary, one thing is consistent: mole is muy deliciouso. And did we mention it can be shockingly easy to make? Here are 9 game-changing Mexican mole recipes that will make every day, every dish and every meal better.
1. Chicken Mole
Cloves, cinnamon, sugar and chocolate (of course) give this sauce sweetness to compliment the 2 different kinds of chile peppers. When it comes to toasting the sesame seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, anise and coriander seeds, don’t skip this step. Toasting these ingredients helps release fragrance and flavor, which take the dish to another level.
2. Easiest Ever Chicken Mole Enchiladas
This recipe boasts the title “easiest ever” and it’s not wrong, mostly because you can make the mole sauce ahead and freeze it so you can enjoy mole any time with very little prep time required.
3. Classic Red Mole Sauce
We’ve already said that there are tons of mole varieties, though more often than not you probably see a black mole on restaurant menus. This red mole sauce is similar, but the main difference is that this mole uses less chocolate and more red chili paste, hence the red coloring. This sauce from Chef Rick Bayless is packed with exciting flavor and pairs well with chicken or pork—or anything really…it’s that good.
4. Mole Nachos
We’ve never met a nacho we didn’t like, but this recipe is pretty freakin’ awesome. The sauce is a little sweet, a little spicy, super flavorful and packing a punch. The ingredient list for the sauce may look long, but you essentially sauté and blend everything together, so it really doesn’t take much time or effort to make, and it takes your nachos to the next level.
5. Slow Cooker Chicken Mole
If you’re looking for an easy mole recipe that can be made with minimum effort, then this slow cooker recipe is your friend. The ingredients are pretty standard and involve a lot of chiles, but all you need to do is mix, blend and then leave in a slow cooker with chicken for 4 to 8 hours, no constant labor required. For mole lovers everywhere who are too intimidated to try to prepare mole at home, this recipe will change your life.
6. Turkey Tamales with Mole Negro
If you’re not familiar with tamales, they basically consist of masa (which is a corn-based dough) that is steamed in a banana leaf. They seem complicated, but the basics are you wrap a combination of masa, meat stuffing, and sauce in a banana leaf and cook in a steamer for about an hour. This recipe is so simple but so flavorful, all thanks to the shredded turkey in a rich black mole sauce. The mole recipe makes a paste, and then you thin it out slightly by added chicken stock to achieve a cream soup consistency, according to Chef Zarela Martinez.
7. Braised Chicken with Oaxacan Chocolate Mole Sauce
We love that this dish uses sautéed tomatoes, onions and garlic as a base, which you add to the spice powder, chocolate and chiles to create the mole sauce. And in our experience, braised chicken is always melt-in-your-mouth good, so this recipe sounds like a real winner.
8. Mole Poblano
Mole poblano is really another name for red mole, and what makes this recipe special is that it uses 4 different types of chiles to accomplish the flavor and color: reddish Ancho, black Mulato, raisin colored Pasilla, and tobacco looking Chipotle. As the chef explains, “some chiles work together and some don’t. Some work for certain kinds of moles and some don’t. This group of four is like the Fantastic Four.”
9. Mole Chili
We love chili and we love mole, so naturally we’ll love a recipe that combines those two things into one dish. Plus this mole chili recipe includes bacon, so we’re really in love. It only takes 25 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to cook and makes enough for leftovers. But trust us, there won’t be much extra after everyone discovers just how good this recipe is.
Photos 2 & 4 courtesy of Food Network.com