Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oaxacan Black Mole

For the second time, and quite possibly the last, I made this incredibly complex and time consuming dish. With its roots squarely planted in a Oaxacan (a region of Mexico) grandmother's cooking tradition, it has a way of making you feel like a martyr/saint when you make it. Perhaps this is no coincidence and mothers and grandmothers for centuries have been wielding their culinary power and racking up undying commitment from their families for going through this long and grueling process. More than thirty ingredients, four hours of chopping, frying, toasting, blending, straining, reducing and one disastrous kitchen later you have an immensely complex sauce and perfect to serve at your most authentic Mexican dinner party. And that is exactly what I did, for Supper Thyme this past Saturday.

The process really comes down to making four different purees. Counter clockwise, starting top left, these purees contain the following. First - roasted onion and garlic, banana, charred bread, oregano, canela, cloves and thyme. Second - tomatoes and tomatillos, Third - dried Pasilla, Chilhualces, Chipotle secco and Mulato chilies that have been toasted in hot oil and reconstituted in water. Fourth - blackened seeds from inside the afore mentioned dried chilies as well as deeply toasted almonds, pecans, sesame seeds and peanuts.

Once you have the four purees, you cook each one down until reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, then add the next and repeat this process. I know, it doesn't look appetizing, but you know what they say about judging, books, covers, etc.

After all purees are added in turn and reduced to a thick paste, Mexican chocolate is added. This special chocolate contains cinnamon, chili powders and other spices and is only slightly sweetened. The final step is adding stock to bring the sauce to a pouring consistency, season well with salt and a bit of sugar to mellow the toasty flavors just a bit.

After all this, my kitchen looked like all this.

So, you may ask, why bother? Well, for me, making this sauce was one of those things I needed to do in my culinary lifetime. I absolutely love the flavor but more than that it was a challenge to see if I could do it and do it well. I am satisfied, and honestly, I totally enjoyed my time in the kitchen. Cooking certainly shouldn't always be a rush to be done. I got to savor the process.

I won't type out the whole recipe here but if anyone wants it, email me at and I'll send you a copy straight from Rick's book.


  1. It was so worth it. I can say that because it wasn't me who made it but rather I got to savor the fruit of your labor. And savor I did. So delicious! Thank you for sharing.

  2. One of the best meals of my life and I mean that sincerely. I am so inspired that you took something like this on and that by the time we showed up it looked like you had never cooked a day in your kitchen! Amazing meal Julie - thanks so much for asking us to be a part of it!


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