While tacos or enchiladas may spring to mind for many people when talking about Mexican food, the quintessential dish of Mexico is most definitely mole (pronounced mo-lay). The thick sauce is filled with deep, rich flavors, and preparing it is a labor of love. The time consuming process produces a decadent sauce so delicious, it could truly be a meal all by itself, especially spooned onto freshly made tortillas. No matter how it is served, from smothering meat (especially poultry) to being poured over enchiladas, the distinctive taste of mole makes for a mouthwatering dining experience you won’t soon forget!
Here are some interesting facts about this most famous of Mexican sauces:
Mole Contains Several Ingredients
Styles of mole vary by region and from family to family, but one thing they all have in common is their large number of ingredients. It is not unusual for a recipe to contain upwards of 30 ingredients, and they usually include nuts like almonds or peanuts, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, bittersweet chocolate, bread crumbs, and of course, every version features chiles of some type or another.
The Origins of Mole are Still Unclear
The most well-known variety is mole poblano, a lip-smackingly thick, chocolate infused sauce that was made famous in the city of Puebla. There are several legends of how mole came into existence. One claims that the nuns from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla frantically threw together a meal for the visiting archbishop using a mix of seemingly random ingredients they happened to have on hand, creating a slightly sweet yet savory sauce that was served over turkey. The meal with the archbishop was a runaway success, and as such, mole was here to stay. A similar story about the same convent claims that monk Fray Pascual came up with the very first mole by accidentally spilling a then unheard-of combination of spices into the pots the turkeys were cooking in. Yet another version is the unlikely story that Moctezuma, king of the pre-hispanic Aztec empire, served mole to the conquistadors, whom he believed were gods.
It is Usually Made in Large Quantities
Every cook has their own special take on mole, and recipes are often a treasured family secret passed down through the generations. Preparing mole takes a long time, which is why it is typically made in big batches. Home cooks generally don’t have the right equipment to blend such a large quantity, so they often take their cooked ingredients to their local molino (grinder) to get their sauce to the perfect consistency.
The next time you dive into a scrumptious meal featuring a thick, fragrant mole sauce, you can enjoy it even more knowing that it is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Don’t forget the napkins!