Mole Madre

This unique dish is based in traditional Mexican technique and comes from Mexico from the Inside Out by Enrique Olvera.

“I find mole to be a fascinating, baroque, laborious, and complex expression, capable of fusing endless elements into new flavors.

Ours is a contemporary version of a classic mole negro (black mole), which originated at Pujol with the support of an initiative led by chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita in an attempt to rescue the chile chilhuacle, a Oaxacan chile in danger of extinction. We paid the farmers in advance as an incentive to reactivate the production areas and bought several sacks before the harvest season.

In March 2013, we were invited to participate in restaurant Quintonil’s first anniversary festivities: it was our chance to use these chiles in a celebratory dish such as mole. We made a large batch, and we later decided to serve it at Pujol.

If we reheated it, as is done traditionally over the course of a week—which is the usual length of a celebration—we knew it would become smoother. However, we wondered what would happen if we continued reheating it indefinitely. When we tried that, we discovered that not only was it possible, but the mole never stopped evolving. Since then, we reheat it every day. Then, as it is used up and we are down to ten liters—which is the case every two days—we add a new mole, made with ingredients that vary according to the season. Given the time of year, we may add pumpkin seeds, apples, Dominican baby bananas, hibiscus, tamarind, macadamias, and more.

The name mole madre (mother mole) refers to the idea of a mother dough in the bakery world. We fold freshly made mole into the base of old mole to continuously shape a flavor that evolves and becomes simultaneously more subtle and complex.

Unlike conventional moles, this one is made not with four chile varieties, but rather with just one: green, red, and black chilhuacle. And instead of frying the chiles, we roast them so that the mole isn’t oily. We also use digestive spices and avoid the typical animal protein broth.

Since mole is a universe in itself, we present it alone. We feel that serving it with freshly made tortillas allows our guests to enjoy it without distractions. That’s why we also plate it just as it falls straight from the spoon: in a circle. To highlight the passing of time and show how it all began, we place a small portion of a new mole in the center.

We’ve come to think of our mole madre as a living and breathing being; it speaks and even moves. We’re thrilled to observe its changing moods or tone of voice: we can tell when it’s enlivened or exhausted, when it needs something, and when it wants to be left alone.” – Enrique Olvera

Click here to purchase your own copy of Enrique Olvera’s cookbook Mexico from the Inside Out, published by Phaidon.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 chiles chilhuacle rojo chiles
  • 4 chiles chilhuacle negro
  • 4 chiles chilhuacle amarillo
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 allspice berry
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig marjoram
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 2 prunes
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 plantain, peeled
  • 2 tablespoon roasted peanuts (groundnuts
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 2 tablespoons whole almonds
  • 3 tablespoons stone-ground chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons pecans
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) water
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt

Mole Rojo-Mole Nuevo

  • 15 chiles pasilla mixe
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 allspice berry
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig marjoram
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 2 prunes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 plantain, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts (groundnuts)
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 2 tablespoons whole almonds
  • 3 tablespoons pecans
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) water
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt

Sesame Seed Tortilla

  • 1 cup (280 grams) Corn Dough
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted

Corn Dough (makes 1 kilogram)

  • 1 teaspoon slaked lime (calcium hydroxide)
  • 2 cups (510 grams) dried corn

PREPARATION

  1. Mole Negro – Mole Viejo: place all the ingredients except the oil, water, and salt in a roasting pan and roast in a 450ºF (230ºC) oven for 8 minutes, checking to see that they do not burn. Remove from the oven and finely grind.
  2. In a pan, sauté the ground ingredients in the oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 45 to 60 minutes. Add the water and cook, stirring frequently, for 25 minutes. Strain and adjust the salt. Reheat the mole every day, adding a new batch of black mole paste every 2 days.
  3. Mole Rojo – Mole Nuevo: place all the ingredients except the oil, water, and salt in a roasting pan and roast in a 450ºF (230ºC/Gas Mark 8) for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and finely grind. In a pan, sauté the ground ingredients in the oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 45 to 60 minutes. Add the water and cook, stirring frequently, for 25 minutes. Strain and adjust the salt.
  4. For the corn dough: dissolve the slaked lime in 4 cups (about 1 liter) water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the corn and cook for 45 minutes. Let stand for 12 hours. Drain the corn in a sieve and rinse until the water runs clear. Grind to a think and compact dough.
  5. For the sesame tortillas: knead all the ingredients in a bowl until combined and smooth. Divide into 12 portions a little less than 1 ounce (25 grams) each and roll each one into a ball. Using a tortilla press, form into tortillas. Cook on a comal, or other pan, over medium heat, turning 3 times, 45 seconds on each side for a total of 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
  6. To serve: reheat both moles. On each plate, spread 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of the old mole into a circle, using the back of a spoon. Place 1 tablespoon of the new mole in the middle of each circle of the black mole. Serve with tortillas.
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