Mole Poblano from Puebla to You In Tucson and Beyond

By on November 2, 2018

Mole Poblano from Puebla to You

When Rose Gilbert and I went on a press trip to Puebla, Mexico we were in for many surprises. First off, there are literally hundreds of churches, practically one on every corner. Second the architecture is noble and lovely. But, for us, the best part was the food.
If you’ve ever eaten in a Mexican restaurant stateside, you’ve no doubt seen Mole on the menu. There are literally hundreds of iterations of the dish.

Eaten out in almost any restaurant here and particularly in the Southwest, you will have encountered this dish on the menu. One of my favorite tourist destinations is Tucson, Arizona which has a veritable wealth of restaurants from around the world. But they offer moles by the million.

Coming from Tucson is a new and wonderful nightly drive-time radio show found on AM1010 from 5-7, M-f, and hosted by Dawn English. Irresistible Tucson, Food, Culture and Entertainmanet in the Old Puebla . We talked about the millions of moles from Mexico and beyond and I promised I would post a recipe. Here goes.

One of the myths surrounding mole, says that 16th Century nuns from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles, upon learning that the Archbishop was coming for a visit, went into a panic because they had nothing to serve him. The nuns started praying desperately and an angel came to inspire them. They began chopping and grinding and roasting, mixing different types of chiles together with spices, day-old bread, nuts, a little chocolate and approximately 20 other ingredients..

Mole Poblano: Pollo con Arroz

This concoction boiled for hours and was reduced to the thick, sweet, rich and fragrant mole sauce we know today. To serve in the mole, they killed the only meat they had, an old turkey, and the strange sauce was poured over it. The archbishop was more than happy with his banquet and the nuns saved face. Little did they know they were creating the Mexican National dish for holidays and feasts, and that today, millions of people worldwide have at least heard of mole poblano.

The other legend states that mole came from pre-hispanic times and that Aztec king, Moctezuma, thinking the conquistadors were gods, served mole to Cortez at a banquet. This story probably gained credibility because the word mole comes from the Nahuatl word “milli” which means sauce or “concoction”. Another connection could be that chocolate was widely used in pre-columbian mexico, so people jumped to that conclusion.

I first learned about mole when writing The Only Texas Cookbook,still in print from its first edition in 1982. Mole was one of the popular concoctions I learned about then, and I make it to this day. For our family, it is the penultimate Christmas eve feast.

You can order the book from Amazon, and I’m going to give you the authentic recipe for Mole Poblano that I learned from Leroy Woollett, a Houston friend of ours who made regular pilgrimages to Mexico.

He’s the one who taught me the Gringo shortcut of using Mole sauce in a jar to season the complex dish. They sell Mole sauce in alsmost every grocery store in the US. Easy peasy. You can also get a green one that relies on pumpkin seeds. Try them. You’ll like ’em.

Here’s Leroy’s version he calls:

Tex Mex Chicken or Turkey Mole

It is ridiculously easy to make. Just take care not to burn the bottom of it.

Makes 8 servings

4 cups cooked turkey or chicken meat
1 8-1/4 ounce jar Bueno or Dona Maria brand Mole sauce
1 quart chicken broth
1 7-1/2 ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 square dark, unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon sugar
Sea salt to taste
Slivered almonds for garnish
Cooked rice or heated corn tortillas to serve
Pepitas and cilantro for garnish
Tear the cooked meat using a fork including the skin. Place in a large pot and add jar of Mole sauce, broth, tomato sauce, peanut butter, chocolate, sugar and salt to taste. Stir to mix and heat over low heat for about 20 minutes.
Serve over rice, with corn tortillas, or wrapped into enchiladas. Garnish with pepitas and cilantro. Serve hot.

Tear the cooked meat using a fork including the skin. Place in a large pot and add jar of Mole sauce, broth, tomato sauce, peanut butter, chocolate, sugar and salt to taste. Stir to mix and heat over low heat for about 20 minutes.
Serve over rice, with corn tortillas, or wrapped into enchiladas. Garnish with pepitas and cilantro. Serve hot.

About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”

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