New Mexico Red Chile Mole

A red mole' sauce made with New Mexico red chile, pecans, pistachios and an assortment of spices. | mjskitchen.com

 

A few weeks ago a friend and I took a cooking class at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy.  The class was on mole and was taught by Chef Fernando Olea, a well-known Santa Fe chef, originally from Mexico City.  The class was a demonstration of Chef Olea making his family recipe for Mole Poblano while engaging the class in a discussion on the different types of moles and the endless variety of ingredients.  Chef Olea encouraged us to create our own family recipe for mole, addressing our own tastes and using local ingredients.  Chef Olea was so inspiring, that when I got home, I did just that.  The main ingredients in the New Mexico Red Chile Mole recipe below are mostly local, New Mexico ingredients. The primary chile is dried New Mexico red which gives it more of a red color than the dark chocolate color that one might get from a combination of other dried chiles such as pasilla, mulato, and ancho.

What I really love about this recipe, but most particularly, Chef Olea’s process, is that it can be prepped and cooked in a little over 2 hours.  I’ve only made mole from scratch once before and it was a Oaxacan Mole Negro that took ALL day!  Instead of toasting each ingredient separately (like I did the first time), Chef Olea groups the ingredients into batches according to common sizes and toasting rates.  In other the words, all of the chiles are toasted in a batch, the nuts in another batch, and the small spices and seeds in yet a third batch.  It goes so much faster and the result is just as delicious as the longer process; in fact, I think it’s better. 🙂

This recipe below does make a huge batch of mole – at least 12 cups; therefore, there is enough to use it any way you want and freeze some for a later date.  It freezes quite well by the way.  There are so many ways to use it that you’ll find yourself making another batch as soon as it’s all gone.  This mole makes a great smothering sauce for enchiladas, burritos, tacos, chicken, and pork, as well as a variety of beans and vegetables.  You can substitute it for just about any recipe that calls for red chile sauce or other types of chile sauces.  I love it with these Bean and Red Mole pizzas.

And just in case you’re wondering- Yes, did get to try Chef Olea’s Mole Poblano.  At the end of the class each of us was served a dinner of duck breast smothered in Mole Poblano with a side of rice.  It was excellent!

 

A red mole sauce made with New Mexico red chile, pecans, pistachios and an assortment of spices. #mole #redchile @mjskitchen

 

A red mole' sauce made with New Mexico red chile, pecans, pistachios and an assortment of spices. | mjskitchen.com

Kitchen Notes

The chiles – The possibilities here are endless.  The main thing to be careful about is using too many HOT chiles.  If all of the chiles are HOT, then your mole might be too hot to eat.  My red chile was HOT so I toned it down with the ancho.  The chipotle was to add a touch of smokiness to the flavor, but not overpower it.  Three varieties help to create a nice complexity, but moles’ can be made with just two chiles or even one.

Nuts and Seeds– Again, the possibilities are endless. Most of the mole recipes that I’ve seen use raw almonds as the primary nut, but since almonds are not grown in New Mexico, I went with local pecans and pistachios. I considered pinons, but after doing a taste test of pecans/pinons vs. pecans/pistachios, I chose the latter. Other nuts and seeds that you could use include peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and sunflower seeds.

Corn Tortillas – Chef Olea used 2 corn tortillas and when he charred them, he actually burned them. They were actually on fire when he put them in the molé pot; so don’t worry about overcharring the tortillas. Apparently, you can’t. 🙂  If you don’t have a gas stove top, then tear the tortillas into small pieces and toast them along with the nuts, OR you can substitute with masa harina (keep reading).

I didn’t have any corn tortillas, so I used 2 tbsp. masa harina.  After toasting the seeds and spices, I added the masa to the hot pan and toasted it to a rich, dark brown. I mean…what’s a corn tortillas but masa and water? So if you don’t have any tortillas, this is an alternative OR, you could just omit this ingredient altogether.

The fat – Originally, I was going use lard, but the lard I had was old, so I chose to use butter and bacon drippings. Because of the yield for this recipe, you could use all bacon drippings or butter, or, if you are vegan/vegetarian, use a mild oil like safflower or canola.

Apple or plantain – Many mole recipes use ripe plantains which are soft and sweet and are used to add bulk and a touch of sweetness to the sauce. If you don’t have a plantain, an apple turns out to be a great substitute.

Chicken Stock/Broth – You can use homemade, a chicken base with water or both.  A great chicken base is Better than Bouillon.  If you are vegetarian, they make a “No chicken base”, which tastes like chicken but is all vegetarian.

Chocolate – Chef Olea used Abuelita chocolate (which is extremely sweet) plus sugar.  The only chocolate I had was Baker’s chocolate which isn’t sweeten, but the 3 Tbsp. sugar balanced it out nicely.  You can use just about any chocolate you want. Just adjust the amount of sugar to your tastes.

Blending – If you have a VitaMix or an industrial type blender, you should be able to achieve a smooth, gravy texture with your mole.  Even with my blender on the highest setting, I couldn’t quite get there visually, but it sure had a smooth texture when I put it in my mouth. So if I were to say there was a difficult part of this process, blending would be it.  I blended mine twice to get it to where I was happy with it.

As I mentioned before, the process used here and taught by Chef Olea takes the difficulty and massive consumption of time out of making mole.  It’s not a difficult process at all and actually fun to do.  So I encourage you…if you’ve ever wanted to give mole a try…to give this recipe a try.  You’ll be happy you did!

 

Parting Shots

As we were driving home after the class, the sun was setting and some thunderclouds were trying to form on the horizon.  It made for a beautiful drive home!

Sunset outside Santa Fe, New Mexico | mjskitchen.com

Pretty typical shot of isolated showers in New Mexico.

Sunset outside Santa Fe, New Mexico | mjskitchen.com

I hope this post has inspired you to give mole a try.  Whether you make this New Mexico Red Chile Mole or one using the chilies available in your area, you won’t regret it.

Once you get the mole made, be sure to check out my Chicken Mole.

 

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53 Responses to “New Mexico Red Chile Mole”

  1. Lisa July 3, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    I’m very excited to finally be able to make some of your recipes: my husband went on a business trip to Texas recently and brought a slew of dried chiles back to France for me! I love the sound of this mole. Chipotles, I have and know. The other dried chiles I have are anchos, pasillas and guajilloes. I’m a novice for flavours and heat of these chiles and how they blend together. Would they be good to use for this mole recipe? Thanks so much for your help!

    • mj July 4, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

      Lisa … that great!!! I’m so excited! What a thoughtful husband! Yes, the guajilloes would make the perfect substitute for the New Mexico red chiles. Then just use the ancho and chipotle as stated in the recipe. Please let me know how you like it! I think you’re going to love it. 🙂 (Sorry for the delay in response. It’s a holiday weekend here so I was offline yesterday.)

  2. Steve January 7, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

    Hi there. You seem to have a good recipe going! From my experience eating many and making moles with a some grandmothers in Mexico, I think your chef got you into the right idea:

    A mole is like a curry, it’s a complex sauce. Hot, bitter, nutty, herbal and fruity. Salty. Many flavors combined.

    It’s MOLE, (no special accent marks) -which rhymes with “Holy” – First syllable accent, not second.

    #1 Roasted, nearly charred dried chiles, not the hottest ones.
    #2 Roasted nuts/seeds of any kind also sesame is an option
    #3 Roasted fruits: plantains, tomatoes, raisins, prunes, really anything fruity.
    #4 Roasted herbs, oregano thyme etc.
    #5 yes, masa to thicken, not a lot for darker moles – the more masa and less chile, the more it becomes an “Amarillo”

    The ingredients can vary a lot, but those are the directions they go.

    Optionally, a little chocolate or coffee will add another element of bitterness. It would normally be a small aspect in homemade moles except that the shops in Mexican cities (like Oaxaca) that roast and grind chile to sell as mole also do cacao/chocolate and so their moles are naturally composed of the two products they carry. These “commercial” moles and then American’s natural fascination with the idea of chocolate in a salty sauce has led to the misconception that Cacao is a larger element in any tipico mole, even Oaxacan, than the reality.

    My Mexican wife and I find many moles to be sweeter than the used to be, before Mole was “discovered”, and commercialized.. But that might just be regional.

    Perhaps surprisingly, your odd ingredient is Chipotle, with bacon fat along the same lines. Smoky (vs roasted) is an new direction for the typicial mole. Just as it might be somewhat odd to have a smoky asian curry. While I love smoky and have used Chipotles and also Tustas (yet to be trendy) forever, I think that they are perhaps overused by American cooks in their enthusiasm over a newly discovered ingredient. But sure, why not?

    Provecho!
    Steve

    • mj January 7, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

      Steve, Thanks for much for the great comments! Mole has been a favorite of mine for years, ever since a Mexican immigrant made it for us down in southern NM. How lucky you are to have a professional mole maker at home. 🙂 I think the next mole I try to tackle with be a green mole. There are so many types and so many possibilities. Yes, the chipotle and the bacon drippings are strange ingredients for a mole, but the chef did challenge us to create something original that represents us. Since I was raised in the southern US, bacon drippings is a standard ingredient and chipotle is a a flavor I love as an accent. So why not? 🙂 I’m sure the pistachios were a surprise as well.

      And thanks for the punctuation correction! My bad!
      Loved your comments! Cheers, MJ

  3. Ramona W January 6, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

    Happy New Year MJ! Wishing you a wonderful 2016! Wow, that mole looks so rich and delicious! I have never made mole…. but it looks like I have to venture to make it now. 🙂

    • mj January 7, 2016 at 7:09 pm #

      And a happy new year to you too Ramona! I hope you get a chance to make a mole’. It’s a lot of work, but well worth it.

  4. Tessa July 7, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

    That red mole looks fantastic MJ!

    • mj July 8, 2015 at 11:34 am #

      Thanks Tessa!

  5. Sissi July 7, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    I am ashamed to say I’ve never had mole… but I’m sure yours beats all the other versions with all the local ingredients included. Somehow, I feel the pistachio’s presence must be extraordinary!
    I think I’ve never been to a cooking class… what a fantastic idea! I have always dreamt of discovering a foreign country’s cuisine this way… or mastering my meat/fish preparation skills… You have made me dream.

    • mj July 7, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

      Actually, I think it was the pistachios that gave the unique flavor that I ended up with. The flavor is different from traditional Mexican mole, but with the same richness and complexity.
      In all my years, this was only the second cooking class I’d ever been to. It was so inspiring that I’ve already signed up for another one with the same chef in August called the Cuisine of Mexico. Wish you were here to go with me!

  6. Katerina July 7, 2015 at 3:02 am #

    Mole is something I have never tried in a Mexican restaurant. You’ve inspired me to try it! Looks delicious! Pinned!

    • mj July 7, 2015 at 7:22 am #

      Thanks Katerina! It is a must try!

  7. Bam's Kitchen July 6, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

    Your mole looks stunning!!! I have never tried to make it from scratch but now with all of your helpful hints, I think it will be much easier. Oh my goodness the options for using this mole are endless. I love that beautiful golden colour. Pinning, sharing and sending smoke signals… Well it is mole sauce after all….

    • mj July 7, 2015 at 7:22 am #

      Thanks so much Bobbi! Yes, this method is so much easier and the results are the same – delicious! Hope you get a chance to try it.

  8. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles July 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

    Holy Mole! (sorry couldn’t resist) – but just look at that gorgeous sauce… and the ingredient list too. Mouthwatering, all of it. I’m totally jealous that you’re taking a cooking class with a friend – that sounds like so much fun. I started saving bacon drippings after one of your posts and now I have to take the leap and make my own mole ~ definitely sounds worthwhile and I love that you were inspired to create your own version.

    Beautiful parting shots. We could sure use some showers over here MJ – isolated or otherwise – I’m concerned that we (global ‘we’) are going to lose our fruit trees… but in the meantime, things appear to still be growing and growing well – my garden is quite happy :).

    • mj July 6, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

      Thanks Kelly! I’ve just been waiting patiently for “holy mole'”. I knew it was coming. 🙂 That is so funny that I’ve got you saving bacon drippings! It’s such a southern thing and one of those that I brought with me to New Mexico. A little goes a long way. Oh how I wish we could send you some rain. We’ve been getting more rain than normal this year and it seems to be coming up from the south Pacific through Mexico then Arizona, totally bypassing California. Man you guys need some rain! Hope you get some soon.

  9. Dedy@Dentist Chef July 6, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    My indonesian licking would love this spicy Mexican red chile mole…

    • mj July 6, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

      Thanks Dedy!

  10. minnie@thelady8home July 6, 2015 at 6:44 am #

    That’s absolutely YUMMMM!!! I have never had this before, but I would love to try this out.

    • mj July 6, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks Minnie!

  11. Debra July 6, 2015 at 6:42 am #

    You attended the mother of all cooking classes. I don’t have to tell you how envious I am. You have inspired me to make mole. I love the rain pic.

    • mj July 6, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

      Yes, I did! 🙂 I can’t wait to attend the next one of the Cuisine of Mexico. So glad to have been an inspiration Debra! Thanks for your comments.

  12. Amy (Savory Moments) July 4, 2015 at 7:34 am #

    Oh yum – this mole looks absolutely fantastic – thick, rich, and flavorful! I only made mole once and while it was awesome, it took so many ingredients and so much time. Pinning this one to try for sure!

    • mj July 4, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      thanks so much Amy! This process is very doable and the result just as good!

  13. Thalia @ butter and brioche July 4, 2015 at 2:45 am #

    I can tell how flavoursome this mole is just by looking at the images. WOW.

    • mj July 4, 2015 at 9:56 am #

      Thanks so much Thalia!

  14. jacque July 4, 2015 at 1:31 am #

    Thanks for the reminder on this 4th of July, waking up to this recipe and waking up to a glorious sunny morning in CapeTown, South Africa and remembering there are no skies like New Mexico skies and no food like New Mexico cuisine (born and bred New Mexican)

    • mj July 4, 2015 at 9:55 am #

      Thanks so much Jacque! I’m so glad to be able to share a little of our wonderful NM with you as you are displaced in CapeTown! I’ve heard CapeTown is a very lovely place as well, but no place has the NM skies. 🙂

  15. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz July 3, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    Recently had the real deal at an authentic Mexican place in Montreal, wow so amazing and complex. I never tried because I know it is a long process. Perhaps you have now convinced my otherwise.

    • mj July 4, 2015 at 9:53 am #

      Amazing and complex is a good description for mole’ Evelyne! I hope I have convinced you to try it at home. It’s worth it! Thanks!

  16. Judy @Savoring Today July 2, 2015 at 6:39 am #

    Confession: I have never tried mole. I know I should and hear wonderful things about it, it’s just that every time I’ve had the chance something else captured my attention instead. You have inspired me to get on the mole band wagon, or well, at least get a clue as to what it taste like! Ha.
    And don’t you just love summer skies?! Some afternoons can be whittled away by cloud gazing. 🙂

    • mj July 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

      Oh Judy – you must try mole’! It is a sauce to remember. There is a little Mexican place done on Central (Route 66) that we’ve been enjoying their mole’ tacos for years. It’s different from this one because it uses the more traditional Mexican chiles. So yes, it’s time to jump on the mole’ bandwagon and give it a try. 🙂 Thanks for your wonderful comments!

  17. Raymund July 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    This would be my kind of sauce! would love it on any meats

    • mj July 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

      Yes, it does work on just about any meats. I’ve never tried it on pork belly. 🙂

  18. Angie@Angie's Recipes July 1, 2015 at 3:35 am #

    Those sky photos are breathtakingly beautiful! So is your red mole sauce!

    • mj July 1, 2015 at 7:52 am #

      Thanks Angie!

  19. Hotly Spiced June 30, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    I love the photos of the sky – just gorgeous. I have never made mole and must give this a try as I love the sound of all those spices and the heat from the chillies xx

    • mj July 1, 2015 at 7:52 am #

      Thanks Charlie!

  20. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef June 30, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    That last photo is amazing. I love that storm photo. I have never made mole but I was with a friend who did. It’s a lot of work but the result is outstanding.

    • mj June 30, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

      Thanks Maureen! The picture doesn’t capture it all. The whole was amazing! We pulled off the road and just stood and watched for a while. 🙂 Yes, it is a lot of work, but well worth it.

  21. Helen Mackesy June 30, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    MJ
    I am now receiving your posts after many months of my sister sending me the link everytime she heard from you. I can’t imagine life without your recipes.
    Thank you SO MUCH.
    Helen

    • mj June 30, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

      Helen, thank you so much for letting me know!!! I’m thrilled! Apparently, the change I made last week finally worked. 🙂 Thanks SO MUCH for your kind comments!!!! Happy cooking!

  22. marco June 30, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    I would like a recipe on red chicken

    • mj June 30, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

      Marco, Here’s my braised Red Chile Chicken. You can use red sauce or this red mole. Thanks for dropping by!

      • marco June 30, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

        Sorry maybe I didn’t say it right pollo Rojo grilled chicken they sell it on street food corners

        • mj June 30, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

          Marco, Here is the only recipe is could find for “grilled” pollo rojo. It looks like all you need to do it make a red mole’, marinate the chicken in the sauce, then grill it. Thanks for the question, because now I’m know what I’m going to do with some of this red mole’. Grilled Pollo Rojo sounds awesome! Hope this helps!

          • marco June 30, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

            The recipe for the red sauce on the grilled chicken

  23. Deb|EastofEdenCooking June 30, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    What a fabulous recipe! A much less time consuming prep, yet with all the robust flavor!
    I’ve seen New Mexico chilies at out local market but am always unsure if they are “authentic”, I suppose the mole would be great anyway!

    • mj June 30, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

      Thank you so much Deb! The bag should say where the chiles come from. In fact, New Mexico law requires it. So if it doesn’t say, “from New Mexico”, then it’s not from here.

  24. Tamara June 30, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    I too have only made mole infrequently because of how involved it is! I love the way you’ve simplified it. I may need to take some New Mexico red chiles with me so I can try it, as I have no idea whether they’ll be available in McAllen, TX. We’re making a trip to Taos just before we bid adieu to Las Cruces, so I’ll be sure to grab some! Thanks MJ 🙂

    • mj June 30, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

      Thank you so much Tamara! Sorry to read that you’re leaving the Land of Enchantment! McAllen, Tx – interesting. You don’t hear about someone moving there very often. 🙂 It’s actually a very quaint little town if I remember correctly. Bobby and I stayed there for a few days several years ago and did some exploring and bird watching in the area. Hope you have a safe move and enjoy your new location! Don’t forget those red chilies. 🙂

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