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Mole Coloradito (Mexico)


While Episode 47 (The Temple of the Inscriptions) is set in Chiapas, my recipe for the episode takes you onw state to the west: Oaxaca.  Oaxaca is the Land of Seven Moles: Amarillo (yellow), verde (green), mojo (red), coloradito (colored, a dark red), mancha manteles (literally tablecloth strainer, a brick-red), chichilo (reddish-black, named for the chichilo pepper), and the best known, the legendary negro (black).

While I love mole negro beyond all reason, it is incredibly complex to cook at home.  So instead, I offer you mole coloradito.  It has some of the flavor profile of negro while being much simpler to cook.  It works as a great sauce for virtually anything: chicken, pork chops, steak, roasted veggies, enchiladas, fish, you name it. 

This isn't a weekday meal, but it you have the time on a weekend, it's worth the investment.


  • 8 ounces (about 16) dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces

  • 1 pound (500 g) ripe fresh tomatoes (4 medium round tomatoes or 6 medium plum tomatoes)

  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/8” (3 mm) slices (divided use)

  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil (divided use)

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) sesame seeds

  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) oregano, preferably Mexican

  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) cloves, preferably freshly ground

  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) black pepper, preferably freshly ground

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) ground cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) raisins

  • 8 whole blanched almonds

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) bread crumbs

  • 2 tablets (6 ounces/170 g total) Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped

  • 4 cups (1 liter) chicken broth

  • Sugar

  • Salt


  1. Set a large (10-inch/25 cm) skillet, preferably cast-iron) over medium heat. When hot, lay a few chile pieces on the hot surface in single layer. Press down with a metal spatula until they change color and become aromatic—about 15 seconds. Flip the chiles and press down, toasting other side. Remove to a bowl.

  2. When all are toasted, cover chiles with hot tap water and weight with a plate. Let soak until soft, about 30 minutes.

  3. Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

  4. Return the skillet you used to toast the chiles to medium heat. Add three-quarters of the onion slices and all of the garlic. Roast the onion on both sides until soft and blackened in spots, about 8 minutes. Roast the garlic on all sides until soft and blackened in places, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

  5. Return the skillet to medium heat. Pour in 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the vegetable oil, then pour in the sesame seeds. Stir continually until the sesame seeds brown, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl (Bowl A).  (NOTE: the sesame seeds can burn quickly, so keep an eagle eye on them. You want them toasted, not burned.)

  6. Use tongs to transfer the rehydrated chiles to the bowl with sesame seeds, saving the soaking water. Add the oregano, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, raisins and almonds to the chiles and sesame seeds. Mix well.

  7. Scoop half of the mixture into a blender. Pour in just enough chile-soaking water to cover. Cover and blend at high speed until very smooth.

  8. Set a medium-mesh strainer over another bowl (Bowl B). Pour in the chile puree and press through with a rubber spatula.  This step allows you to get the delicious sauce without the remnants of chile skins and sesame seed hulls.  Discard these remnants left in the strainer.

  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 with the rest of the chile mixture left in Bowl A. Strain into the Bowl B.

  10. When the roasted tomatoes are cool, peel off and discard skins. Put the tomatoes in the blender with all the juices from the baking sheet. Peel and roughly chop the roasted garlic. Add to the blender along with the roughly chopped onion. Cover and blend at high speed until smooth.

  11. Wash and dry the skillet. Set over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. When hot, add the tomato puree. Cook—stir almost continually—until the tomato mixture thickens, 10 to 15 minutes.

  12. Set a large heavy pot (preferably a 6- to 9-quart/6-9 liter Dutch oven) over medium to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the vegetable oil. When hot, add the chile puree and stir continuously until the mixture becomes very thick—about 20 minutes.

  13. Scrape in the cooked tomato mixture, bread crumbs and chocolate. Add the chicken broth and stir until the chocolate melts. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook 30 minutes.

  14. Taste and season the mole with sugar (usually about 1 tablespoon/15 ml) and salt (usually about 1 ½ teaspoons/7.5 ml). 

Notes: Use the sauce on just about anything.  Consider grilled pork chops, roast chicken, lightly grilled seafood, and of course, enchiladas. 

Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless:

Photo by Gary Wong

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