The art of mole is complex and old. Mole is originally thought to have been created in either the Oaxaca or Puebla regions of Mexico. The actual origin of the word can be traced back to the Nahuatl word "mulli," which translates as "sauce". It traces a long history to pre-Colomian times and is a dish that has put Mexican cuisine on the world map. There are seven master moles, but in reality, the dish has thousands of variations, making it a truly "infinitesimal cuisine" as defined by Diana Kennedy.
The soul of a mole is the complexity of chillies, spices, herbs and nuts. There are simpler 5-6 ingredient moles like the green mole, but the more complex versions have 20+ ingredients including bitter chocolate. These moles are transformative, the flavour is an explosion on your palate, not necessarily spicy, but a sum of all the ingredients in perfect harmony.
This is a simple yet deep mole. This sauce is characterized by three chillies, pasilla for the spice kick, mulato for the deep flavour and ancho for the rounded sweetness. The chillies play together well with the few spices bringing together deep layers of flavour. The meat is slowly braised, about 3 hours, and it gets to be super tender and absorbs the flavours of the mole completely. You need to pair this mole with pickled onions or pickled jalapenos, the acid helps cut through the richness of the mole. Because of the deep flavours, I serve it with just cheese and avocado, no need for salsa. I like to serve the meat as tacos, but you can also make quesadillas or burritos if it is your preference.
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2 lb pork shoulder, cut into 2-3 large chunks
4 ancho chillies
4 mulato chillies
4 pasilla chillies
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon crushed Mexican or Italian oregano
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
1 bay leaf
Grated cheddar cheese
hard tortilla shells
Roast the chillies on a dry frying pan till they are aromatic. Soak in hot water for 30 minutes to overnight. If you want the chillies to be completely submerged in the water, I usually set a plate on the chillies to keep them submerged.
Drain the chillies from the water keeping the soaking liquids. Remove the stems, seeds and ribs from the chillies. Strain the soaking liquids discarding the grit and any seeds.
Add the chillies, soaking water, coriander, cumin, garlic, tomato paste, oregano and salt to a small blender and urèe till the paste is completely smooth. It may take some time for the chillies to break down completely.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the bay leaf. Sautè for 10 seconds and add the chilli paste and cook for 5 minutes. Careful the paste will splatter and the stains are impossible to get out. Add the meat and the stock and bring to a boil.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Cover the pot tightly with foil and fit the lid on tightly. Put into the oven for 3 hours. Remove the pot and stir the mole every hour, turning the meat over. The sauce will thicken and the meat should be very tender by the end of the cooking time. Cool and you should be able to shred the meat with your fingers. Mix well into the sauce. If the taco mix is still quite juicy, cook it on a stove till most of the liquids have been absorbed by the meat. You want the tacos mix to be quite sloppy though.
Serve hot will all the accompaniments listed above. I like to serve the dish family-style so that guests can make their tacos at the table.