Mole Sauce, authentic Mexican flavor

Exploring Mexican Flavor: Adrian’s Oaxacan Chicken Mole

This Father’s Day, we are eager to share a family recipe that has been curated over generations – all the way from Oaxaca, Mexico! Our Sales Coordinator, Adrian Lopez, has sourced and translated his father’s recipe for Oaxacan Mole (aka “Mole Colorado”). This traditional Mexican recipe is filled with rich heritage and intense flavor. Learn all about Mexican flavor and the family traditions that keep it alive across countries and generations.

“Oaxaca is revered for its rich tradition & indigenous roots, culturally vibrant people & scenery, and of course, exquisite cuisine.”

Adrian Lopez

Although Adrian was born in California, his parents were born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico; every meal at home always had some type of Mexican influence. Oaxaca is revered for its rich traditions & indigenous roots, culturally vibrant people & scenery, and of course, exquisite cuisine. Among its culinary treasures is the beloved complex and flavorful curry paste called Oaxacan Mole. 

woman in traditional Mexican dress holding a plate of chicken mole, authentic Mexican flavor
Authentic mole captures Mexican flavor and family traditions at their best!

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The history of Mole, an iconic Mexican flavor

Throughout Latin America, mole has its variations of color, taste, spice, & even cooking process. Adrian’s father, also named Adrian, was born and raised in a rural part of the state of Oaxaca called San Pedro Cajonos, Villa Alta. For example, the indigenous descendants of the Zapotec people in San Pedro Cajonos have their variation to make Oaxacan Mole with turkey rather than poultry. Sometimes you may even use pork.

Mole sauce and table setting, flat lay, Mexican flavor
Mole freshly served with chicken drumsticks.

Adrian shares that “Mole colorado has been a staple in his family home since he was born.” He even recalls eating tortillas with his plate of Oaxacan Mole as early as 7 years old– which was also the first time he could taste the layers of ingredients at play. He further explains that the mole recipe was passed down solely from verbal and visual cues, until his mother, Abuelita Adela, also known as the official matriarchal cook, told him, “If you want to learn, go get a notebook since I will not repeat myself.” And thanks to Adrian’s keen interest in his mother’s cooking, he was able to document a multigenerational old recipe.

There is much pride in culinary preservation such as mole because the dish has roots pre- Spanish colonization.

Adrian Lopez

What is Mole?  

“Mole” receives its name from mixing, or “moler,” 3 or more ingredients to create the base of the dish. Without the incorporation of the chile guajillo, chile ancho, and chile cascabel– and other sweetener factors like Abuelita, or Mexican, chocolate– the distinct mole taste and consistency cannot be achieved. Optimize your mole recipe by toasting the peppers over ‘Mezquite’ carbon. This step adds an extra layer of smokiness. It also complements the natural flavor of the chili peppers.

Chili Peppers

“The Scoville Scale is a system for rating the spiciness of chili peppers and spicy foods, developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912. It measures heat based on capsaicin content, ranging from 0 (no heat) to 16 million (pure capsaicin).”

Homemade Recipes, Spice & Life


Mexican flavor infusion: Mole sauce ingredients

Mole sauce is a rich, complex blend of several unique ingredients. We break down four of them here, and uncover how they contribute to the authentic Mexican flavor on this iconic dish.

Guajillo Peppers

Green and when dried in the sun develop a vibrant red color. Due to change in color and absence of moisture, the guajillo pepper develops an earthy natural flavor, with complex notes of fruit, nutty, and savory flavors with berry-like top notes. Because it is considered moderate heat, the pepper becomes a versatile ingredient. Scoville Heat Unit would range from 2,500 to 5,000. 

guajillo peppers, authentic Oaxacan mole sauce ingredient
Dried guajillo peppers, essential for authentic Oaxacan mole.

Ancho Peppers

Characterized by hints of sweetness, smokiness, and mild earthiness natural flavors; and when they are dried, the flavors are more concentrated. Because the ancho pepper is on the mild side, 1,000 to 2,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit, and makes it a perfect solution to add depth and warmth to any dish without an overwhelming spice sensation. 

ancho peppers, authentic Oaxacan mole sauce ingredient
Dried ancho peppers deliver a mild heat and smoky, earthy flavor to traditional mole recipes.

Cascabel Pepper

Or colloquially known as the “rattle chili” due to the rattling sound of its seeds, provides an acidic, woody natural flavor, with tobacco and nut undertones. Coming up at 1,000 to 3,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit, the cascabel pepper is perfect to add a noticeable kick that is enjoyed by a wide range of palates. 

cascabel peppers, authentic Oaxacan mole sauce ingredient
Dried cascabel peppers have a complex flavor of tobacco and nuts.

Abuelita Chocolate

The defining ingredient for Adrian’s Oaxacan Mole is the Abuelita Chocolate. Typically, the chocolate comes molded in circular tablets or discs, and has a distinctive red and yellow packaging. When grated or broken apart, the smooth texture is revealed which easily marries into any dish. Utilizing the combination of dark chocolate, sweet & mild top notes, with a cinnamon aroma finish, the Abuelita chocolate helps cut through any unwanted spice level and adds to the color finish. 

Mexican chocolate, authentic Oaxacan mole sauce ingredient
What ingredient adds unique Mexican flavor to authentic mole sauce? Abuelita chocolate, of course!

“There is much pride in culinary preservation such as mole because the dish has roots pre-Spanish colonization.”

Adrian Lopez

Note: You will find many of these ingredients at local Hispanic food stores such as Cardenas, Northgate Market, and Superior. Or you may source ingredients via online retailers such as Amazon and similar.


Oaxacan Chicken Mole Recipe

Learn how to make this traditional Mexican recipe and immerse yourself in authentic Mexican flavor! Scroll down for the complete mole recipe, courtesy of our Blue Pacific Flavors team member Adrian Lopez and his father Adrian Sr.

chicken mole ingredients, flat lay, Mexican flavor
Assortment of chicken mole ingredients prior to toasting them on griddle or pan.

Ingredients:

  • 10 guajillo chilies, deseeded
  • 5 ancho chilies
  • 5 Chilhuacle or cascabel chilies (round, dried chilies)
  • 10 whole almonds
  • 1 ounce of small raisins
  • 5 whole walnuts
  • 2 ounces of sesame seeds
  • 5 sprigs of dried oregano
  • 5 cloves, or 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • Half a white onion
  • 1 bolillo roll or bread crumbs
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 red tomatoes
  • 2 green tomatillos
  • Salt to taste
  • Water
  • Chicken broth
  • 8 chicken legs, or drumsticks
  • 1 tablet of Abuelita chocolate (Mexican chocolate)

Instructions:

  1. Boil the chicken in enough water with garlic, onion, and salt.
  2. For the chilies, wash them and remove the seeds.
  3. On a griddle or pan, toast the chilies. Be careful not to burn them as it will make the mole bitter.
  4. Toast the onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepper, tomatoes, tomatillos, raisins, etc. (add the chocolate later during cooking).
  5. Soak the toasted ingredients in chicken broth and blend them finely in a blender to avoid straining. Don’t use too much chicken broth as it will make the mixture too watery.
  6. In a large pot, put everything that was blended, and stir continuously to prevent sticking and lumps in the mixture. Add salt, chocolate, and breadcrumbs.
  7. In another medium pot, add some oil, 2 cloves of garlic, onion slices, thyme, and oregano, and start frying the chicken that has been previously cooked.
  8. If you prefer not to fry the chicken, skip this step.

Yield: 4-6 servings

You may pair chapulines (fried grasshoppers), fried taquitos, and handmade tortillas with mole sauce for an elevated Mexican flavor experience!


Hungry for more Mexican flavor?

In addition to natural fruit and sweet flavors, Blue Pacific offers a variety of Hispanic flavors inspired by the traditions of Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Spain. We hope you are able to find inspiration through this Oaxacan recipe or whenever you walk into a Hispanic grocery store. Thank you, Adrian, and Adrian Sr., for sharing this authentic & proudly Oaxacan recipe with us.

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