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The Hirshon Oaxacan Pollo Mole Negro

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • For Chicken stock:
  • 2 large (3 1/2 – to 4-pound) chickens, cut into quarters
  • 1 medium onion, unpeeled and halved with two cloves stuck in each half
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the Mole sauce:
  • 11 medium (about 5 1/2 ounces) dried mulato chiles
  • 6 medium (about 2 ounces) dried chilhuacle negro chiles
  • 6 medium (about 2 ounces) dried pasilla chiles
  • 1 dried chipotle chile (preferably the tan-brown chipotle meco)
  • 1 corn tortilla, torn into small pieces
  • 2 1/4-inch-thick slices of white onion
  • 10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • About 2 cups rich-tasting lard or vegetable oil (for frying the chiles)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds, plus a few extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup unskinned or Spanish peanuts
  • 1/4 cup unskinned almonds
  • About 10 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound (2 medium-large or 6 to 8 plum) tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dark raisins
  • 4 ounces (2 to 3 medium) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 2 slices stale challah or egg bread
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice
  • 1/4 stick cinnamon, preferably Ceylonese Cassia
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 Hoja Santa leaf, minced (optional but strongly recommended if you can find it
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 3 points of star anise
  • 1/4 whole nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 2 large tablets mexican chocolate
  • 3 avocado leaves
  • Salt, about 1 tablespoon depending on the saltiness of the broth
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grated piloncillo sugar, plus more as needed


  1. This is a 2-3 day process, plan accordingly!
  2. A day before making your mole, you will need to make a rich chicken stock. Place the chickens in a deep heavy pot, then cover pieces with cold water and stock ingredients. Bring to a boil, skim, reduce heatr to medium and cook for about 1 ½ hours.
  3. Ensure you have at least 12 cups of good rich broth. Remove chicken pieces and put into a separate pan – let cool, then cover and refrigerate for the next day. Do not overcook the chicken you want tender, not chicken falling off the bone. When broth cools strain and refrigerate.
  4. The next day skim off the fat from the top and reserve. Put stock on back burner until ready to use.
  5. For the Mole:
  6. Pull out the stems (and attached seed pods) from the chiles, tear them open and shake or scrape out the seeds, collecting them as you go.
  7. Set an ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat, lay on a piece of aluminum foil, and lay the onion slices and garlic cloves on that. Roast until soft and very dark (about 5 minutes on each side of the onion slices – peel it off the foil to turn it; about 15 minutes for the garlic – turn it frequently as it roasts). Cool the garlic a bit, peel it and combine with the onion in a large bowl.
  8. While the onion and garlic are roasting, turn on the oven to 350 degrees (for toasting nuts), return the skillet to medium heat, measure in a scant 2 cups of the lard or oil (you’ll need about ½-inch depth), and, when hot, begin frying the chiles a couple at a time: They’ll unfurl quickly, then release their aroma and piquancy (keep that exhaust on and window open) and, after about 30 seconds, have lightened in color and be well toasted (they should be crisp when cool, but not burnt smelling).
  9. Drain them well, gather them into a large bowl, cover with hot tap water, and let rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure even soaking. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid.
  10. In a cast iron pan if available or a heavy large fry pan heat 1 tablespoon lard or oil and fry raisins until they puff up and brown a bit – do not scorch or burn the raisins! Remove the raisins and set aside.
  11. Add a little more lard or oil and the reserved chicken fat from the stock and gently fry the almonds, pecans, and the peanuts for five minutes on a medium to low flame. Be careful not to burn.
  12. All this takes time, you cannot hurry because burning or scorching any of these nuts will cause your sauce to be bitter. Nuts should be a golden brown. Remove nuts and set aside.
  13. Next in the same frying pan add a little more lard or oil and fry your torn bread pieces lightly then put bread in the oven for about ten minutes to toast a bit. After 10 minutes remove bread from oven. Next in that same frying pan, cut your ripe banana into small pieces and fry in oil or lard until golden. Remove the banana to a seperate pan.
  14. Last fry the tortilla and the reserved chile seeds in a little bit more oil or lard until crispy and dark brown, again being careful not to burn. Remove fried tortilla and seeds to bread pan.
  15. Heat another heavy fry pan – do not use oil or lard. Keep heat down on medium low.
  16. Add your spices to toast sesame seeds, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cumin seeds, nutmeg, black peppercorns and allspice and toast slowly. Toast until they are fragrant, do not burn or scorch. Put into a spice grinder or coffee grinder and pulse until totally ground to a powder.
  17. Next add your leaf and powdered spices to the just-ground spices – the Hoja Santa, ginger, oregano, thyme and marjoram. Add all of them to the blender (reserving a few sesame seeds for garnish), along with 1 ½ cups of the chicken broth and blend to as smooth a puree as you can. Transfer to a small bowl.
  18. Without rinsing the blender, combine the tomatoes and tomatillos with another ½ cup of the broth and puree. Pour into another bowl. Again, without rinsing the blender, combine the raisins, roasted onion and garlic with the toasted bread, chile seeds, tortilla and 1 cup of broth. Blend to a smooth puree and pour into a small bowl.
  19. Finally, without rinsing the blender, scoop in half of the chiles, measure in ½ cup of the soaking liquid, blend to a smooth puree, then pour into another bowl. Repeat with the remaining chiles and another ½ cup of the soaking liquid.
  20. From four purees to mole. In a very large (8- to 9-quart) pot (preferably a Dutch oven or Mexican cazuela), heat 3 tablespoons of the lard or oil and set over medium-high heat.
  21. When very hot, add the tomato puree and stir and scrape (a flat-sided wooden spatula works well here) for 15 to 20 minutes until reduced, thick as tomato paste, and very dark (it’ll be the color of a cinnamon stick and may be sticking to the pot in places).
  22. Add the nut puree and continue the stirring and scraping until reduced, thick and dark again (this time it’ll be the color of black olive paste), about 8 minutes. Then, as you guessed it, add the banana-spice puree and stir and scrape for another 7 or 8 minutes as the whole thing simmers back down to a thick mass about the same color it was before you added this one.
  23. Add the chile puree, stir well and let reduce over medium-low heat until very thick and almost black, about 30 minutes, stirring regularly (but, thankfully, not constantly). Stir in the remaining 7 cups of broth, the chocolate, piloncillo and avocado leaves (if you have them), partially cover and simmer gently for about an hour, for all the flavors to come together. Season with salt and more piloncillo sugar as needed (remembering that this is quite a sweet mole and that sugar helps balance the dark, toasty flavors). Remove the avocado leaves.
  24. In batches in a loosely-covered blender, puree the sauce until as smooth as possible, then pass through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl.
  25. Return the mole to the same pot and heat it to a simmer. Place the cooked chicken into the sauce, partially cover and simmer 15 minutes. Ideally, let this sit overnight in the fridge to allow the flavors to develop and blend.
  26. If sitting overnight, reheat to a good summer.
  27. With a slotted spoon, fish out the chicken pieces and transfer them to a large warm platter. Spoon a generous amount of the mole over and around them, sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds and serve with pride to your very lucky guests.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours