Mole (pronounced "mole-eh") is a bit of a generic term
for describing a wide variety of Mexican sauces, all of
which involve some sort of Mexican hot peppers (of which
there are myriad species, and to which I shall
henceforth generically refer to by their Mexican name,
"chile") and some sort of nuts. The most famous variety
is probably mole poblano which includes Mexican
chocolate (originally probably only cocoa beans), an
unsweetened, unmilked chocolate that bears little
resemblance with one of the products that made
Switzerland famous besides clocks, cows, and mountains.
Practically all moles that do not include chocolate are
also known as pipián, and they are a regional dish,
such as the popular variety from the culturally rich
Mexican state of Oaxaca that has the largest number of
different Mexican indigenous cultures.
In general, mole is a sauce, often served with some
kind of meat so sometimes "mole" refers both the sauce
and the meat that it is seasoning, almost always
chicken. The sauce is a very complicated one if done
from scratch. It's an all-day endeavour because the nuts
traditionally have to be peeled by hand, and grinding
and cleaning the chiles is laborious too. Mexicans are
especially proud of mole sauce which they consider to be
a craft unto itself and would proposition that the
United Nations sanction mole as part of humanity's
heritage if they could. As a point of comparison with
sauces more famous outside of their country of origin,
the flavours, colours, and different kinds of mole as
well as their uses in cuisine parallel rather closely
those of Indian curry. I'm convinced that the equal latitude has something to do with this similarity.
The curious thing is that mole de olla has nothing to do
with mole, so forgive the above digression.
Well, that's not entirely true. It is, of course,
another Mexican dish so at the very least it will have
some ingredients in common. It is not a sauce, however; it is a stew.
Its name, translated literally, might
either mean "pot mole", "mole of the pot" or "stew
mole". Why call it mole at all I cannot fathom. It
probably has something to do with the great variety of
ingredients that go into it, a diversity akin to the
sauce version of mole. The word itself, "mole" might
either come from the Spanish verb "moler", to grind,
though not much gets ground with mole de olla, so
perhaps an alternate and more plausible theory would be
that it comes from the Náhuatl "moli", which simply
means means "mixture".
Whatever it's called, the stew is delicious. It may be a
little difficult to find a few of the ingredients
outside of Mexico, but modern exports, imports, and
globalisation might remedy this problem. The version I
give here is the one that Mariana prepares, the
maid/cook/cleaner in my dad's home. She has never
measured the ingredients herself, the recipe being a bit
of an oral tradition passed on from her own mother.
Mariana has of course modified the recipe according to
her own fantastic culinary expertise and also to suit
the peculiarities of my family who dislikes, for
example, pork. All the recipes I found online for mole
de olla called for pork, and although the recipe I will
present calls for chicken instead, the kind of meat is
easily replaceable and may be done so according to the
tastes of the cook and the guests present.
So here it is. A brief chat with Mariana produced the
following recipe, without measurement. I give rough
guidelines for the desired amounts and what everything
should look like, but please use your culinary common
sense; bear in mind that this is supposed to be a stew.
If disaster nevertheless occurs, contact me and I'll see
about getting a more precise recipe.
Ingredients for about four people
- chopped carrots (about half a cup)
- chopped squash of the zucchini kind (about half a cup)
- kernel corn, not sweet, canned is fine (about half a
- fresh green beans, chopped (about half a cup)
- One ample chicken breast or two
- One cube of chicken stock, optional
- chipotle chiles in adobo, that is, not
dry. I know the canned variety can be found as far north
as Montréal in Canada, and that's perfectly fine. The amount of chiles will largely influence the uhm, intensity of the resulting stew. For my Mexican family, perhaps about half a can is good enough, more sensitive palates might prefer a little less.
- one or two diced tomatoes (enough for three quarters
of a cup when liquified)
- about half a clove of garlic
- about half a large onion, chopped
- half of a cup of Mexican red rice per person served. See
other recipes for preparing red rice.
- chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) to taste
- green limes cut in half to be squeezed into stew
Boil the chicken until it's very well cooked. When done, remove
from the broth and shred it (see this regarding cooking the chicken). Save the broth.
While the chicken is boiling, in the blender put the
chipotle chiles, the tomato, all the garlic, and about
half the onions (which would mean about a quarter cup of
onions in this case). It shouldn't be completely liquified and some small chunks are desirable. After blended, let the sauce simmer
at low heat for about ten minutes .
Pour the broth into the chipotle sauce. Still simmer at
low heat, and let the flavour soak for a couple of
minutes. Taste the stew. If it's still not chickeny
enough, add the cube of chicken stock, and perhaps a dash or two of salt.
Start adding the rest of the vegetables except for the
rest of the onion. Begin with the green beans which take
the longest to cook. When they are soft, add the
carrots, the corn, and the squash.
Add the chicken and simmer for maybe a minute or two.
Shape the red rice into compact domes using a small cup,
place each dome in a bowl per person, and pour the stew
around this dome. Serve together with the cilantro, the
rest of the onions, and the limes with
which the guests can further season the stew to their