Mole Poblano {Mole Puebla-Style – Because it’s Cinco de Mayo}

Mole Poblano with side of crema

Cinco de Mayo (aka 5th of May). Contrary to popular belief, it’s not Mexican Independence Day. It’s the day Mexicans celebrate the defeat of the French forces by the Mexican army (back in 1862) in the Battle of Puebla (Batalla de Puebla). Apparently an unexpected victory. In the USA it is a day to enjoy Mexican food, sip margaritas or down tequila shots. For me? A reminder that it has been too long since I last made Mole Poblano, a dish from the state of Puebla, usually enjoyed on birthdays, Christmas, marriages and of course, on the 5th of May!

There are many legends as to the origins of this dish, typically served over turkey. The one I like the most is where the Convent in Santa Rosa, Puebla receives a visit from the archbishop. Being poor with little to eat, the nuns collected whatever ingredients they had to hand … day old bread, chilis, chocolate, a few spices .. and made a mole sauce out of it which they served with turkey. Mole used to signify a mixture of any kind but has now come to represent this dish.

I’ve spent years perfecting this recipe. The first few times I made it, it was a cumbersome, complicated experience that took FOREVER to make! Though it did taste good! There is no need to spend hours in the kitchen making it and certainly no need to buy a jar of Mole María from Walmart. I have hacked this recipe into a much simpler, yet equally delicious, version. It really helps to have all of your ingredients set out and measured before you start.

The first time my husband and I tried it was in Mexico City at the home of my ex-boss. His cook was from Puebla (where legend has it, Mole Poblano comes from). And this is how she served it: Moist corn tortilla, shredded chicken, sauce on top. Crema and queso on the side. And I have to say I prefer it this way than as a sauce poured over whole pieces of turkey. Not the prettiest dish to look at but until you have tried it, you are missing out!


  • Difficulty: Complicated
  • Print

1 whole chicken, skinned and shredded (see my recipe here) or buy a rotisserie chicken and shred it (by hand, of course)
2 dried ancho chilis – stems and seeds removed
4 dried mulato chilis – stems and seeds removed
3 dried pasilla chilis – stems and seeds removed
3 cups of water
4 tbsp of vegetable oil – 3 for the chilis, 1 for the rest
1 onion diced
2 garlic cloves – skin on
1 tomato
1 small corn tortilla
2 tbsp of almonds
1 tbsp of creamy peanut butter – plain without additives
2 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds + 1 tbsp for garnishing
2 tbsp of raisins
2 while cloves
3 whole peppercorns
1 star anise
¾ tsp of ground cinnamon
4 cups of chicken stock (more if needed to achieve desired consistency) – I use juices of cooked chicken and complement with ready made stock
2 oz of semi sweet chocolate
1 tbsp of sugar
½ tsp of salt

Split this recipe into 4: Cook chicken, prepare chili puree, prepare onion mixture then bring everything together.
Pre-heat your broiler to 450°F
In a heavy skillet, heat the 3 tbsp of oil and quickly fry the dried (stemmed and seeded) chilis – do it until they just start to turn color, turning constantly
If you fry the chilis for too long your sauce will end up being bitter and spicy rather than rich and spicy
Drain on kitchen paper and then place them in a small pan and cover them with 3 cups of water
Now broil the tomato and the garlic for 5 minutes then turn over for another 5 minutes – Set aside to cool
Bring the chilis in water to a very gentle simmer and let them sit there, submerged, while you prepare the rest of the recipe
In the same pan you fried the chilis in, add 1 tbsp of oil and brown the tortilla – drain on kitchen paper
Now fry the onion for the 5 minutes
Add the almonds, peanut butter, cinnamon, raisins, cloves, anise and peppercorns and continue to fry for 4 to 5 minutes over low heat
Stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes
Add the toasted sesame seeds and let the mixture cool down
Now peel the tomato and garlic and place them in a blender together with the fried onion mixture and 1 cup of chicken broth – Blend thoroughly and set aside
Rinse the blender – Now blend the chilis with the other 1 cup of chicken broth – Again, blend thoroughly
Once blended, pass the blended chilis through a fine sieve into a bowl
In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, add your blended onion mixture and 4 tbsp of the sieved chili pulp – You can always add more later
Add the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth
Stir and cook on low for 45 minutes, uncovered
When the sauce has reduced, add the sugar, chocolate and salt – stir until well combined and taste
Add more chili puree and or salt if necessary
Warm the tortillas and shredded chicken slightly
Serve: tortillas, chicken and sauce on top – crema (creme fraiche or sour cream) on the side
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds

© 2014-2015 Caroline’s Family Kitchen and


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