What is Mole Poblano?

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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 May 2020
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Mole poblano is a popular chili sauce used in Mexican cuisine. Although there is no hard and fast recipe for it, it is commonly a combination of a minimum of three dried chili peppers, ground nuts or seeds and Mexican chocolate. Salt, oregano, chicken broth and charred onions, garlic and avocado leaves are mixed with these ingredients, and crushed crackers or breadcrumbs are usually added to thicken the mixture.

Mole is a Mexican Spanish word that literally translated means sauce or concoction—it can refer to several Mexican food sauces and dishes based on these sauces. Outside of Mexico, it usually refers to mole poblano sauce. Mole also is recognized as part of the word guacamole, which is a popular Mexican dip, made with avocadoes, tomatoes and seasonings.

The chili peppers chosen for the mole recipe depend on personal taste and availability, but common types include chipotle, mulato, ancho and pasilla. For the ground nuts or seeds, peanuts, almonds and sesame seeds are popular choices. The required Mexican chocolate is a special blend of ground cacao, cinnamon and sugar. Ground nuts are also sometimes part of the Mexican chocolate blend.

Mole poblano is different from most Mexican sauces in several ways. It is very thick, while many Mexican sauces, most commonly salsa, are thin. Mole also is cooked to a smooth consistency, and salsa is most often made from raw, fresh ingredients. The majority of other sauces with origins in Mexico have easily identifiable chunks of food in them, namely tomato, onion, garlic, tomatillo and a wide variety of chili peppers.

Various preparation methods are used to make mole. Most recipes commonly call for whole garlic cloves, sliced onion and the dried peppers to be lightly fried in oil. These cooked components, along with the rest of the ingredients, are placed into a blender and processed until smooth. The liquid is slowly cooked and continuously stirred over low to medium heat until the flavors completely meld. The thickening agents are added and the liquid is cooked until the desired consistency is reached.

Chicken mole may be the most universal way to serve this sauce. The sauce, though, can also be a nice complement to beef and pork. Restaurants often include mole enchiladas on their menus, which are corn tortillas filled with chicken and covered with mole.

Mole poblano takes a lot of time and patience to prepare. Because of this, it is usually prepared in very large batches and frozen for future use. It is a popular dish at dinners celebrating special occasions, such as baptisms, quinceaneras, weddings, birthdays, first communions and baptisms.

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Post 3

I think it's difficult to describe mole poblano. One must try it to know! It has a fairly complex flavor because of so many ingredients. Some moles have up to thirty ingredients in them!

Post 2

@ddljohn-- Mole poblano doesn't really taste like chocolate. It has a hint of cocoa but it doesn't overpower the other flavors. I've had very spicy mole poblanos and mildly spicy ones. So I think it depends on the region and the cook. But the chocolate is an important ingredient because that's what makes the sauce silky and gravy like.

My mom makes mole poblano several times a year in huge batches and freezes them. I live in Houston and there are some great restaurants here that also serve mole poblano. I think you should be able to find a Mexican restaurant that serves a decent mole poblano in your area.

Post 1

I've heard of mole poblano but I've not had the opportunity to try it yet. It sounds delicious and interesting. At first, chills and chocolate sounded strange, but now I think it might be a great combination. I bet the chocolate would help reduce the spice of the sauce. Can I get mole poblano at Mexican restaurants in the US?

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