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Mole Negro de Oaxaca

Mole Negro de Oaxaca

To a large pot of gently boiling water, add the washed chicken pieces, one onion, one unpeeled garlic head and one tablespoon of salt.

As chicken cooks, spoon out foam and cooked blood that accumulate on the surface (you want to end with a clear and delicious broth). Boil gently until tender — do not overcook. Separate chicken from broth and discard onion and garlic head.

For the mole. cut the stems off the chiles negros, guajillo and pasilla and take out the seeds (save the seeds). Wash the chiles and pat dry with a towel.

In a pan with 3 tablespoons olive oil, sauté chiles a few at a time until crispy but not burned-set aside. Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil and sauté pumpkin seeds, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, chile seeds and one layer of the cinnamon stick until golden, and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté Mexican chocolate until softened, and set aside. Toast slice of Mexican pan dulce, and set aside.

Over a grill, toast the tortillas until golden.

Mix together all the sautéed ingredients, toasted tortillas, Mexican bread, marjoram, oregano, thyme, anise, cumin, whole peppers and cloves.

In a blender or food processor, process the above mixture a little at a time with chicken broth (about 6 cups) until smooth, and set aside.

Over a grill, fire roast tomatoes, tomatillos, ½ onion and 1 head of unpeeled garlic until blackened but not burned.

Process fire roasted ingredients with 2 cups chicken broth until smooth.

To a heated large pan with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, add the tomatoes mixture and simmer for about 15 minutes-stir frequently.

Add processed sautéed mixture to simmering mixture and continue simmering gently (add broth to desired thickness of mole sauce); stir continuously for one hour.

To serve, distribute mole sauce on plate and place two chicken pieces on it. Add mole sauce across chicken pieces and serve with warm corn tortillas. ¡Salud!

– adapted from My Search for the Seventh Mole by Susana Trilling

Oaxacan Black Mole from Susana Trilling is a well known and beloved recipe, popularized by Chicago’s Rick Bayless and featured in several cooking shows. It was the ideal starting point for a lesson in learning how to make this culinarily important sauce. The recipe in the book is made with chicken but Susana describes how this sauce is traditionally served with turkey instead of chicken, and beef or pork is sometimes added to enhance the flavour. For this blog, we will use pork of course!

The recipe is recommended with chicken, but we were curious to see how it the mole recipe would work with pork. It turns out that the recipe makes a very large quantity of mole so there was enough to fork off a variation using pork shoulder, but we had to start the pork cooking on its own ahead of time so that it could be served when the mole was ready. The mole itself takes several hours to prepare so we used the sous vide technique to start the pork cooking the night before.

Susana recommends that mole is served with a large stack of fresh corn tortillas. These can be purchased from a specialty store but they’re also easy to make at home if you have a tortilla press and masa harina flour. Rick Bayless has a good recipe and instructions for them on his website.

Makes 12-16 generous servings of mole. Leftovers go very well with steamed rice and a fried egg.


  • 4 liters of pre-made pork stock – or – make pork stock from scratch using:
    • 2 large white onions
    • 2 whole cloves
    • 4 celery ribs with leaves, or 2 celery hearts with leaves
    • 1 large or 2 small heads of garlic
    • 4 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 whole dried chile de arbol, or chile japones
    • 6 black peppercorns
    • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 2 large pinches of dried
    • 2 whole allspice berries
    • sea salt to taste, approximately 1 Tbsp
    • 2 ½ lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1” cubes
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • Chile Paste
      • 5 dried chilhuacles negros
      • 5 dried chiles guajillos
      • 4 dried chiles pasillas Mexicanos
      • 4 dried chiles anchos negros
      • 2 dried chiles chipotles mecos
      • 1 medium white onion, cut into quarters
      • ½ small head of garlic, cloves separated
      • 2 heaping Tbsp whole almonds
      • 2 Tbsp shelled and skinned raw peanuts
      • 1 piece Mexican cinnamon, 1” long
      • 3 whole black peppercorns
      • 3 whole cloves
      • ½ cup sesame seeds
      • 2 pecan halves
      • ½ lb fresh tomatoes, cut into chunks
      • ¼ lb fresh tomatillos, cut into chunks
      • 1 sprig of fresh thyme, or ½ tsp of dried
      • 1 sprig of fresh Oaxacan oregano, or ½ tsp of dried

      Notes for success

      • The mole recipe makes a great deal of sauce (about twice as much as needed for the specified quantity of meat) but it keeps well and the flavours get better after a day or so. Leftover sauce can also be frozen.
      • The mole recipe makes enough for the amount of chicken, pork and cheese specified in this post.
      • The meat and the sauce can be made up to several days and reheated before serving.
      • When handling spicy chiles and their seeds, be careful not to rub your eyes at the same time.
      • Remove the seeds from the dried chiles, set the seeds aside, and soak the dried chile bodies in cold water several hours ahead or the night before making the mole sauce.
      • Toast the chile seeds in a well vented location (i.e. turn on the stove exhaust and open the windows). The seeds will smoke take care not to breathe in the spicy oils.
      • Have the remainder of the Mole ingredients ready before making the sauce. Grouping the sauce ingredients together in the order that they’re cooked will simplify and speed things up.
      • A powerful blender such as a Vitamix makes this recipe much easier to put together.
      • Pork shoulder is a very flavourful meat to have with mole sauce but it requires a longer cooking time in order to to become tender.
      • This post includes instructions for cooking pork shoulder sous vide ahead of time. It can be started the night before or very early morning on the day of serving.
      1. Cut the pork shoulder into 1” cubes and place into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and pepper and mix well.
      1. Place the pork in a sous vide bag and vacuum seal.
      2. Cook the pork in a water bath at 75C for 10 hours.
      3. Once cooked, allow the pork to cool in the bag.

      Mole: Chile Paste

      5 types of dried chiles for Oaxacan black mole

      1. Break open each of the dried chiles with your hands and empty the seeds into a separate bowl. Reserve the chile seeds and set aside.
      2. Place all of the dried chile bodies into a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow the chile bodies to soak for several hours or overnight.
      3. Remove the chiles from the soaking water and place them in a blender with 1/4 cup of the chile soaking water to blend smooth. Leave the chiles in the blender while the seeds are prepared.

      Chile seeds, before toasting

      1. Place chile seeds on a heavy bottomed pan, preferably cast iron. Heat the pan over medium high heat until the seeds are blackened, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Some seeds may jump out of the pan cover the pan with a splatter screen if one is available.
        Note: Try to do this in a well-ventilated place because the seeds will give off very strong fumes.
      1. Remove the blackened seeds from the heat and place them in a bowl. Soak the blackened seeds in 1 cup of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain the seeds and cover them with more water. Let them soak for another 15 minutes more, then strain them.
      2. Add the seeds to the blender with the chiles and blend for about 2 minutes. The chile paste should be silky smooth, with no noticeable pieces of chile skin.

      Blended whole chiles and blackened chile seeds

      Additional mole ingredients

      Mole: Onions, Garlic & Spices

      1. In a heavy bottomed frying pan (preferably cast-iron), char the onion and garlic over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove them from the pan to a medium bowl and set aside.
      2. In the same frying pan, toast the almonds, peanuts, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and cloves for about 5 minutes. Add them to onion and garlic bowl and set aside.

      Mole: Raisins, Bread & Plantain

      1. Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat until smoking.
      2. Add the raisins and fry them until they are plump, approximately 1 minute. Remove them from the pan to a medium bowl.
      3. Fry the bread slice in the same oil until browned, about 5 minutes, over medium heat. Remove from the pan to the same bowl.
      4. Fry the plantain in the same oil until it is well browned, approximately 10 minutes, over medium heat. Remove from the pan to the same bowl.

      Fried raisins, bread, plantains + toasted sesame seeds & pecans

      Mole: Nut Paste

      1. In a small frying pan, toast the sesame seeds over low heat, stirring constantly. When the sesame seeds start to brown, about 5 minutes, add the pecans and brown for 2 minutes more.
      2. Remove the pan from the heat and let the seeds cool.
      1. Place the sesame seeds and pecans in a powerful blender or spice grinder and grind them to a smooth paste. It takes a bit of time, but this is the only way to grind the seeds and nuts finely enough.

      Mole: Ground Ingredients

      1. Place the nut paste into a blender. Add the raisins, bread & plantain. Add the onions, garlic & spices. Add 1 cup of stock.
      2. Blend well for several minutes, until the mixture is very smooth.

      Mole: Tomato Puree

      Cooked tomatoes, tomatillos, herbs

      1. In a separate frying pan, fry the tomatoes, tomatillos, thyme, and oregano over medium to high heat, allowing the juices to almost evaporate, about 15 minutes.
      2. Blend well into a smooth puree, using 1/2 cup of reserved stock if needed. Set aside.

      Chocolate pieces, Ground Ingredients, Chile Paste, Tomato Puree

      1. Have the chile paste, ground ingredients, tomato puree and chocolate pieces ready.
      2. In a heavy 6-quart stockpot, heat 2 Tbsp of lard or oil until smoking and fry the chile paste over medium to low heat, stirring constantly so it will not burn, for approximately 20 minutes.
      3. When it is “bubbling furiously”, add the tomato puree and fry until the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
      4. Add the ground ingredients to the pot. Stir constantly until everything is well-incorporated, about 20 minutes.
      5. Add 1 cup stock to the mole, stir well, and allow to cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt.
      6. Break up the chocolate and add to the pot, stirring until it is melted and incorporated into the mixture. Taste the mole and add additional salt to taste.
      7. 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 – or – If avocado leaf is unavailable, add the piece of star anise.
      8. Slowly add more stock to the mole, as it will keep thickening as it cooks. Continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it does not stick, and adding stock as needed. The more time it has to cook, the better. There should be no gritty texture (from the seeds), which will cook out over time. The mole should not be too thick just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
      9. If making a vegetarian cheese option, remove 1 cup of the mole and place into a separate saucepan.
      10. Heat the corn tortillas in a microwave and keep them covered so that they do not dry out.

      To Finish: Pork

      1. The pork should be cooked tender firm from the sous vide bath.
      2. Open the sous vide bag and drain the pork juices into a separate bowl. If the pork is cooked far enough in advance, the pork juices can be used instead of chicken stock for the mole sauce.
      3. Add the pork to the mole sauce to heat through. The pork can also be left simmering in the mole for the last 30-60 minutes of the mole’s cooking time.
      4. Serve with hot corn tortillas.

      Not sexy, but super delicious!

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      Challenges of Making Mole

      Attempting to make mole from scratch isn’t an easy feat. The ingredients alone make a mole more difficult than other dishes.

      Most traditional moles have more than thirty ingredients. There are even recipes that can contain more than 100 ingredients!

      Another issue that makes it challenging to create an authentic mole is that you need equipment that you may not already have on hand.

      For instance, you will need a mortar and pestle (Molcajete) or Molino grinders to grind down your ingredients after you’ve roasted them.

      If being traditional isn’t a factor, you can use a blender or food processor.

      Finally, making your mole sauce requires hours to complete. Once you’ve shopped for and prepped your ingredients, you have to add them to stock. The concoction then has to cook on low heat for hours.

      Additionally, you have to keep adding liquid to your sauce to reach the ideal consistency and flavor.

      Mole Negro, Oaxaca Style

      I first tasted mole negro during an all-girls’ trip to Oaxaca that included my mother, aunt, two cousins, three sisters, and niece. It was an interesting time to visit because tourism was at an all time low due to 2006 teacher protests that called for the removal of Oaxaca’s governor.

      When I returned in 2012 to conduct thesis research, cooking school instructors informed me that the tourism industry never fully recovered from this event. Despite these challenges, the area’s rich culinary culture continues to flourish and I was fortunate to learn this mole negro recipe from one of Oaxaca’s great traditional cooks, Reyna Mendoza , owner and instructor at El Sabor Zapoteco .

      These were the 25+ ingredients used to make mole negro in Reyna’s class.

      This recipe is a labor of love and the process can take more than one day to complete. Ingredients, such as the chilhuacle chile pepper, can only be found in Oaxaca or in Latin markets that specialize in Oaxacan products. For these reasons, mole negro is reserved for special days of reverence including Day of the Dead and wedding celebrations.

      One of my cooking mentors, Reyna Mendoza of El Sabor Zapoteco

      Ingredients (mole sauce):
      8 guajillo chiles destemmed and deseeded
      4 dry chilhuacle chile peppers destemmed and deseeded
      4 mulato chile peppers (or ancho negro) destemmed and deseeded
      1/3 cup sesame seeds
      1/4 cup raisins
      7 almonds
      1/4 cup walnuts
      1/8 piece whole nutmeg
      2 allspice berries
      3 whole cloves
      1 cinnamon stick
      1/2 teaspoon dry ginger
      2 teaspoons dry thyme
      1 tablespoon dry oregano
      2 avocado leaves
      2 bay leaves
      1/2 onion (unpeeled)
      2 whole heads garlic (unpeeled)
      1/2 pound tomatoes
      1/4 pound tomatillos
      3 cups chicken stock divided
      3 tablespoons lard (or oil)
      2 pieces toasted white bread
      1/3 cup sugar
      3/4 cup Mexican chocolate
      Salt (to taste)

      Ingredients (chicken):
      6 pieces chicken
      12 cloves garlic
      1 cup water
      Salt (to taste)

      Susana’s Black Mole

      This recipe is adapted from My Search for the Seventh Mole by Susana Trilling.

      From Season 9, Mexico—One Plate At A Time


      • 5 chile chilhuacle negro (1 ½ ounces)
      • 5 chile guajillo (1 ounce)
      • 4 chile pasilla mexicano (1 ounce)
      • 4 chile ancho negro or mulato (2 ounces)
      • 2 chile chipotle meco (1/4 ounce)
      • 1 medium white onion, quartered
      • 1/2 small head of garlic, cloves separated
      • 2 heaping tablespoons almonds
      • 2 tablespoons shelled and skinned raw peanuts
      • 1 inch Mexican cinnamon (canela)
      • 3 black peppercorns
      • 3 whole cloves
      • 2 tablespoons oil
      • 1 1/2 tablespoons raisins
      • 1 slice slice of bread, preferably challah or an egg bread
      • 1 small ripe plantain, cut into ½-inch slices (about 1 cup)
      • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
      • 2 pecan halves
      • 1/2 pound (1 medium-large round or 4 to 5 plum) ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
      • 1/4 pound (2 to 3 medium) fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into chunks
      • 1 sprig fresh thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried
      • 1 sprig Mexican oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
      • 5 generous cups light chicken stock
      • 2 tablespoons lard or oil
      • 6 ounces Mexican chocolate
      • 2 dried avocado leaves
      • Salt


      Rinse the chiles quickly in running water, and remove all stems, veins and seeds. Reserve the seeds. Heat 2 quarts of water in a kettle. In a large griddle, comal or frying pan, toast the chiles over medium heat until black, but not burnt, about 10 minutes. Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with the hot water to soak for 30 minutes. When the chiles are soft, remove the chiles from the soaking water with tongs, placing small batches in a blender with ½ cup of the chile soaking water (or more if needed) to blend smooth. Pass the chile puree through a food mill or strainer to remove the skins.

      In the same dry griddle, comal or frying pan, roast the onion and garlic over medium heat for 10 minutes. Set aside. Toast the almonds, peanuts, the cinnamon stick, peppercorns and cloves on the same pan for about 5 minutes. Remove 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 they 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 cover them with more water. Let them soak another 15 minutes more, then strain them. Grind them in a blender for about 2 minutes with ½ cup of water. Strain them through a medium-mesh strainer. Add the blended chile seeds to the blended chile mixture.

      Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the raisins and fry them until they are plump, approximately 1 minute. Remove from pan. Fry the bread slices in the same oil until browned, about 5 minutes remove from pan. Fry the plantain in the same oil until it is well-browned, approximately 10 minutes, and set aside.

      In a separate frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil and fry the sesame seeds, stirring constantly over low heat, adding salt if they start jumping around too much. When the sesame seeds start to brown, about 5 minutes, add the pecans and brown 2 minutes more. Remove all from the pan, let cool, and grind finely in a spice grinder or a powerful blender with ½ cup stock. The spice grinder takes a bit of time, but this is the only way to grind the seeds and nuts finely enough. The mixture should be very smooth.

      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 ½ cup stock if needed to blend and set aside.

      In the blender, in small batches if necessary, place the nuts, bread, plantains, raisins, onion, garlic and spices. Blend well, adding about 1 cup chicken stock to make it smooth.
      In a large cazuela or stock pot, 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 “bubbling furiously,” add the tomato puree and fry until the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Add the ground ingredients, including the sesame seed paste, to the pot. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until well incorporated, about 20 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock, stir well, and allow to cook 30 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 leaves briefly over the flame if you have a gas range, or in a dry frying pan and add to the pot. Slowly add more stock to the sauce—it will keep thickening as it cooks. Continue to cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Add stock as it thickens. The more time it has to cook the better. There should be no gritty texture (from the seeds), which will cook out over time. Add enough salt to bring out the flavors. If you can only taste the chiles, you need more salt. The mole should not be thick, just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

      Oaxacan black mole: Mole negro oaxaqueño

      The most famous of Oaxaca’s many moles, this sauce can be served with turkey, chicken, or pork however, turkey is the meat of choice for festive occasions. In Mexico, the ingredients for large batches of mole are usually taken to a molino – mill – to eliminate the laborious process of grinding on the metate. The following recipe is quite manageable using a blender or food processor. Making the mole sauce at least a day ahead is recommended, to give the flavors time to meld.

      For the mole:

      • 1/4 lb. chilhuacle or mulato chiles, seeded and deveined (see Note)
      • 1/4 lb. pasilla chiles, seeded and deveined
      • 2-3 cups hot water or broth
      • 1 whole head garlic, unpeeled
      • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
      • 2 dried avocado leaves
      • 1 head garlic
      • 1 bolillo or French roll
      • 2 tortillas
      • 3 ounces each almonds and shelled walnuts or peanuts
      • 1/4 cup raisins
      • 4″ stick cinnamon
      • 3 whole cloves
      • 6 whole allspice
      • 1 sprig each marjoram, thyme and oregano or 1/4 teaspoon of each dried
      • 2 medium white onions, chopped
      • lard or corn oil necessary for frying
      • 1/4 lb. tomatillos, husked 1/2 lb. tomatoes
      • 2 tablets Mexican chocolate (4 ounces)
      • salt and sugar to taste

      Toast the chiles until they are fragrant but not burned.

      Soak them in the hot water or broth for 20 minutes, place chiles with the soaking liquid in a blender or food processor and purée.

      Reserve the puréed chile mixture.

      On a dry comal or griddle, toast the sesame seeds, avocado leaves, garlic, bolillo, and tortillas until browned.

      Fry the almonds, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, allspice, herbs and onions in lard or corn oil until the onions begin to soften.

      Roast the tomatillos and tomatoes on the comal.

      Place them in the blender or food processor with the toasted ingredients and the fried ingredients and purée until smooth, adding enough water or broth to allow the blades to move.

      This may require blending or processing in two batches.

      Heat 3/4 cups lard or corn oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot or cazuela.

      Add all the blended ingredients and cook over low heat for 45 minutes.

      Add the chile purée and continue cooking for another hour.

      Add the chocolate, cooking and stirring until it has melted.

      Add salt and sugar to taste.

      At this point, the mole may be refrigerated or frozen for later use, or used in the turkey recipe below.

      Note: If a more picante flavor is desired, the seeds from the chiles may be reserved and toasted along with the sesame seeds, then blended with the other ingredients.

      For the turkey:

      • 1 7-8 lb. turkey, cut in pieces
      • 1 whole head garlic, cut across the middle
      • 1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
      • 3-4 sprigs hierba buena or other aromatic herb
      • 3 bay leaves
      • 6 black peppercorns
      • salt to taste
      • water to cover
      • 1 recipe mole negro (above)

      Place all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil.

      Cover and cook over medium heat until the turkey is tender, about 45 minutes.

      Remove turkey from broth and set aside strain broth.

      Heat a little lard or corn oil in a large pot or cazuela and add the mole, stirring constantly, until it begins to soften.

      Add the turkey broth a little at a time, stirring constantly, until the desired thickness is reached.

      All of the turkey broth may not be required, since this is traditionally a thick mole.

      Strain the mole to insure smoothness, add the turkey, either in pieces, sliced or shredded, and serve in bowls, accompanied by hot tortillas and white rice.

      By thinning the sauce a little, it may also be used for enchiladas de mole.

      Oaxacan Black Mole Mole Negro Recipe

      The mole that is best known is Mole Poblano, the celebrated dish of Mexico City. It is an "invented" dish, and not an authentic mole. Oaxaca has the most complex, best moles in Mexico, and is known as the Land of Seven Moles, each differentiated by color. Read more This is work-intensive, time-consuming, and if you're smart, you'll do it at least a day before your guests arrive. Since mole is stew-like, it benefits from sitting and is much better the day after you cook it when reheated. Mole is a suspension, and ground nuts are the thickener. Mole burns extremely easily, and burned mole is hideous and cannot be saved (in Mexico, they are cooked in large clay pots, which are very poor conductors of heat). I start mole in a heavy, non-stick pot and transfer it to my slow cooker. But even in a slow cooker, it must be stirred or it will burn. It is also highly complex, and the list of ingredients is long. Make a double or even triple recipe and freeze most of it for future use. Recipe is a hybrid between a recipe I got from a Mexican colleague, Rick Bayless's recipe, and the recipe from Zarela Martinez's Food and Life of Oaxaca, tweaked twenty or thirty times. See less

      Spotlight: Pasilla de Oaxaca Chiles

      Tucked away in the mountains of northeastern Oaxaca, you’ll find one of the rarest heirloom chile peppers in the world. The Pasilla de Oaxaca chile is a deliciously smoky and sweet dried pepper, with notes of fruit and a friendly amount of heat.

      What Are Pasilla de Oaxaca Chiles?

      Pasilla de Oaxaca chiles are a cultivar of Capsicum annuum, and closely related to commonly known chiles like Poblanos, Chilacas, and Jalapeños. Like most Mexican chiles, Pasilla de Oaxaca chiles go by different names when they are fresh versus when they are dried. When fresh, they are known as Mixe (pronounced mee-hay) chiles—named after the mountainous region of Oaxaca they’re grown in and the indigenous people that live there. The Sierra Mixe region of Oaxaca is the only place in the world where these peppers are cultivated.

      The cool, humid air makes sun-drying the fresh Mixe chiles nearly impossible. Pasilla de Oaxaca chiles must be dried over smoldering wood coals for several days. This results in a smoky flavor that's twice as complex as a Chipotle. When you open a bag of these peppers and take in their aroma, you can picture yourself on the edge of a sloping chile field, tending to the fire, and turning over the ripe, red chiles by hand.

      Unlike their mild relative Pasilla Negro chiles, Pasilla de Oaxaca chiles have a noticeable heat level to them. They clock in at around 15,000 Scoville heat units, making them just milder than a Chipotle pepper. Pasilla de Oaxaca’s fruity, smoky flavor makes them an exceptional element in any salsa, stew, or marinade recipe. This flavor profile also makes it the perfect fill-in-the-gap flavor for many vegan and vegetarian recipes in need of a savory boost. These chiles are particularly delicious when incorporated into recipes for mole negro, one of Oaxaca’s most famous dishes.

      How to Cook With Pasilla de Oaxaca Chiles

      Like most dried Mexican chiles, Pasilla de Oaxaca is often paired with other dried chiles to balance and harmonize the flavors in a recipe. Popular chiles to pair with them are Guajillo chiles, Ancho chiles, and Chiles de Arbol. These chiles also pair well with spices and herbs like allspice berries, cloves, cocoa powder, vanilla, Ceylon cinnamon, Mexican oregano, cilantro, coriander seed, garlic, onion, and sesame seeds.

      Pasilla de Oaxaca chiles need to be rehydrated with hot water. Begin by removing the woody stem, inner seeds, and seed veins. Lightly toast the chiles in a dry pan to draw out the aromatic oils and soften the pepper. Steep chiles in a covered bowl of hot water for 15-20 minutes. Puree in a food processor, blender, or with a mortar and pestle. For more detailed information on this cooking technique, check our blog on how to use dried chiles.

      We’ve been using a lot of these peppers in the test kitchen lately. Below you will find just a few of our favorite recipes that call for this rare and exceptional pepper.

      Smoky & Spicy Chile Seasoning Paste

      This seasoning paste is an easy flavor booster for marinades, spreads, soups, beans—the possibilities are endless.

      Oaxacan–Style Mole Sauce

      This recipe might seem intimidating, but it is more time consuming than it is difficult. Try this sauce for making the classic dish, pollo in mole. You can also use this to make outstanding enchiladas, drizzle this over braised pork, or serve this over a plate of rice and beans.

      Smoky Pinto Beans

      This recipe is surprisingly simple to make, even if you have never cooked with dried chiles or beans before. The beans will need to soak and cook for 2-3 hours, but the active cooking time for this recipe is less than 30 minutes. Perfect for a leisurely Sunday, and there will be leftovers you can freeze for later.

      Roasted Red Salsa Oaxaquena

      This smoky tomato salsa has a medium heat, roasted sweetness, garlicky bite and bright lime flavors on the finish. Try it as a sauce for your favorite tacos, or as a simple snack with plenty of tortilla chips.

      Mole Negro de Oaxaca

      For the mole:
      1/2 lb black chilhuacle peppers
      1/2 lb red chilhuacle peppers
      1/2 lb mulato peppers
      1/2 lb pasilla peppers
      the seeds of the peppers described above
      2 burned tortillas
      2 lbs lard
      2 large white onions, sliced
      1 large garlic bulb
      2 plantains
      2/3 lb egg bread (any good bread made with eggs will work, nothing too sweet)
      3.5 oz toasted sesame seeds
      3.5 oz toasted peanuts
      3.5 oz pecans
      1/3 lb almonds
      3.5 oz pumpkin seeds
      3.5 oz raisins
      4 1/2 lbs tomatoes
      2 lbs tomatillos
      1 tsp nutmeg
      1 stick of mexican cinnamon
      1 tsp oregano
      1 tsp thyme
      1 tsp marjoran
      1 tsp anise
      1 pinch cumin seeds
      5 cloves
      5 allspice
      3.5 oz sugar
      6 avocado leaves, roasted
      1/2 lb mexican chocolate
      salt to taste

      Boil the turkey or chickens with the onion, garlic and salt. Roast the peppers, seed them. Toast the seeds until they start to burn, soak them in water (to prevent them from getting bitter) and drain. Soak the peppers in very hot water, drain and soak 30 minutes in cold water.

      Heat half the lard in a pan, sautee garlic and onion, add the plantains in slices, the bread, sesame seeds, peanuts, pecans and raisins. Boil the tomatoes and tomatillos with some salt, drain, blend and strain. Blend (I recommend using a food processor) the peppers with the seeds and the burned tortillas, strain and mix with the stuff frying (which was also blended) and the rest of the ingredients.

      In a large pot, heat the rest of the lard, fry the peppers mix and add the tomatoes mixture and 1 quart of the stock in which you cooked the birds. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chocolate, sugar, the rest of the stock and the avocado leaves. Let simmer for at least one hour, stirring often to prevent it from sticking. Add the pieces of turkey and let simmer for 15 more minutes. Before serving, take out the avocado leaves.

      Serve with refried beans, red rice (mexican rice, see previous mole recipe) and corn tortillas.

      Watch the video: Mole Negro. Mole tradicional de Oaxaca.