Mole sauce, Tamales, other Mexican foods and traditions from Oaxaca Mexico

While this recipe looks overwhelmingly difficult, it is not. It is truly a sauce to be made with loving care and to be served thusly to those you love. Makes 3 quarts and takes about 3 hours, but it's worth it! Recipe courtesy of Zarela Martinez.


For the Chiles

8 oz ancho chiles, tops removed Ancho / Pasilla Pepper.8 oz guajillo chiles, tops removed Guajillo Pepper.

For the Spices

12 black peppercorns
6 cloves
1 piece (2 in) cinnamon stick Cinnamon Stick or 2 tsp ground cinnamon Ground Cinnamon
2 tbsp dried Mexican oregano Oregano

For the Nuts

½ to 1 cup lard or vegetable oil
½ cup sesame seeds
½ cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
½ cup slivered blanched almonds
½ cup walnuts or pecans

For the Dried Fruit

½ cup golden raisins
1 cup pitted dried prunes, sliced
1 cup pitted dried apricots, sliced
1 to 1 ½ cups dry sherry, heated

For the Plantain

1 large, very ripe plantain, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
2 tbsp butter or lard

For the Vegetables

½ head garlic (about 8 cloves), peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
1 large onion, unpeeled
1 lb firm ripe, red tomatoes (2 large or 3 to 4 medium)
¼ lb fresh tomatillos

For Pureeing

4 to 5 cups Caldo de Pollo

To Complete the Dish

1 tablet (3 ounces) Mexican chocolate, chopped Mexican Chocolate

Rinse chiles under cold running water, removing seeds, tops and veins. Cover with boiling water and let soak until softened, no more than ten minutes, while you prepare the spices. Drain and set aside.

Heat a small, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add peppercorns and cloves; toast, shaking the pan and stirring constantly, until their aroma is released, about one minute. Set aside in small bowl. Lightly toast the cinnamon in same pan for about a minute; add to the pepper and cloves. (If using ground cinnamon, do not toast; just add to other spices when you've finished toasting them.) Toast oregano in same pan until fragrant and add to spices. Set aside while you prepare nuts.

In a heavy, medium-sized skillet, heat 2 to 4 tbsp lard or oil over medium heat until rippling. Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring, just until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes; do not let them darken. Remove to a medium-sized heatproof bowl. In the same pan, cook peanuts in same manner, stirring, until lightly browned, adding a little more lard. Add to bowl with sesame seeds. Cook slivered almonds, then pecans or walnuts in same way, using a little more lard each time and adding toasted nuts to sesame seeds and peanuts. Set aside.

Combine raisins, prunes and apricots in a bowl and pour hot sherry over them. Set aside to soften.

Heat butter or lard in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat until hot and bubbling, then add plantain slices and cook, stirring, until golden on both sides. Set aside.

Heat griddle or cast-iron skillet over high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Place unpeeled garlic and onion on griddle and roast, turning several times, until onion is blackened on all sides and garlic is dark brown and somewhat softened. Let cool slightly. Peel onion and garlic; coarsely chop the flesh of the onion. Set aside. On same griddle, roast tomatoes, turning several times, until blackened on all sides. Place in deep bowl to catch juices. Let cool slightly and peel. Drain canned tomatillos and set aside.

Now you are ready to puree ingredients in sequence, working in batches according to the capacity of your blender and adding chicken stock as necessary to facilitate blending.

Place as many of drained chiles and toasted spices in the blender as it can accommodate, with about 1 cup of chicken stock. Process until smoothly pureed, adding more stock if necessary. Repeat with remaining chiles and spices.

With a medium spoon, force puree through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl; discard whatever won't go through. Scrape puree into a large, heavy saucepan; rinse out the blender to wash away any hard or fibrous bits.

Puree sesame seeds and nuts in several batches with just as much chicken stock as necessary to help free the blades. Add to chile puree. Puree dried fruit and sherry along with sautéed plantain in same manner, adding a little stock if necessary. Add to saucepan with chiles and nuts. Puree onion, garlic, tomatoes and tomatillos. Add to other purees in saucepan, along with chocolate.

Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, for 30 minutes.

Serve with chicken (either cooked separately or browned in a little hot lard and added to sauce to finish braising) and sautéed sliced plantains. Mole is also good with turkey or beef. Can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for about 10 days or indefinitely in the freezer.


This is a basic, easy recipe for Tamales. There are so many variations on these you would be amazed. While they are traditionally wrapped in corn husks, you can also wrap them in banana leaves. They can be made with most any kind of meat or vegetarian filling. You can even make fruit tamales for dessert! You can make these ahead of time-even a few days ahead of time. They refrigerate well. Be sure to begin steaming them about an hour before you're ready to sit down and eat. This delicious recipe t will delight your friends and family. Be sure to serve with some salsa fresca on the side for those who love to spice things up a little! Serves eight. Recipe courtesy of Ann Hazard.


3 cups packaged Masa de Harina Tamales Mix
2 cups lukewarm broth (from beef)
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening

Combine masa and baking powder in large mixing bowl. Mix in broth. Beat shortening in separate bowl with electric mixer until slightly fluffy. Add to masa mixture and beat until it develops a somewhat spongy texture.


1 large package corn husks - about 24 Corn Husks
4 lb Chuck Roast
4 cups water
10 dried red Ancho chile peppers Ancho / Pasilla Pepper.
¼ cup ground cumin
¼ cup pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup salt

Early in the morning, place the roast and water into a large pot or crockpot and slow cook four to six hours, or until it shreds easily with a fork. Remove the meat from pot. Place in large bowl, add salt and shred, reserving broth for the masa and the filling.

Remove the seeds (using gloves so you don't burn your eyes!) and stems from chiles. Boil in a pan with one cup water for about five minutes. Transfer chiles to food processor and add cumin, pepper, garlic and enough of the chile broth to make a paste when all spices are blended together.

Add spice paste to shredded beef and mix thoroughly. Add as much of the remaining broth as necessary to make a delicately moist, but not watery filling.


Now comes the fun part. Divide the masa into 16 balls. Open up the corn husks and tear 16 1/4 inch wide strips off husks for typing up the tamales. Lay a corn husk on your counter and pat dry with paper towel. Place a ball of masa on it and flatten into a square shape. Put a heaping spoonful of filling inside.

Pick up the two long sides of the husk, fold them over into the middle and enclose. Roll the flaps of the husk in the same direction around the tamale. Fold the small, pointy bottom end up to close off the bottom and secure the tamale by tying it up in a bow. Repeat for all 16 tamales.

These can keep in the refrigerator for a few days before being steamed. To steam, line a steaming pan (Mexican or vegetable steamer) with extra corn husks. Put about two inches of water in the bottom of the pan. Gently place tamales inside and cover pan. Simmer until steaming hot-about an hour. (Short cut: You can also microwave them, a few at a time for about three minutes.)

ALCAPARRADO DE POLLO-Chicken with Caper Sauce

This sauce is perfect served with chicken, but it's also delicious with grilled or broiled fish. If using fish, cook it separately and serve the sauce on the side. This recipe will serve four people and takes about an hour and half to prepare. Its unique flavors and textures will make it a family favorite for years to come! Recipe courtesy of Zarela Martinez.

1/8 tsp saffron threads
1 ½ cups warm caldo de pollo
5 to 6 tbsp vegetable oil
3 oz shelled raw pumpkin seeds (about ¾ cup)
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped (about ½ cup)
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 small crusty roll, cut into slices
4 black peppercorns
3 cloves
1 piece (1 in) cinnamon or ¼ tsp ground cinnamon Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp oregano Oregano
6 oz capers (2 small jars with brine)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 chicken (3 ½ lb) cut into serving pieces

Crumble saffron threads into chicken stock and let steep a few minutes.

Heat one tbsp vegetable oil in medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not quite smoking. Add pumpkin seeds (carefully, since they tend to pop violently as they hit the hot oil). Cook, stirring constantly, until they are puffed and have a nutty fragrance, about 30 seconds. Do not let them burn or they will turn the whole dish bitter, Drain on paper towels.

In same skillet, head olive oil over medium heat until very hot. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sliced roll and cook, stirring until golden brown on both sides. Add peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and oregano and cook, stirring, until their aroma is released, about 2 minutes or longer. Add capers with brine and stir well to combine. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes on low heat; add chicken stock with saffron and simmer another 5 minutes.

Place contents of skillet in blender and blend until well pureed, about 30 seconds. Add pumpkin seeds and puree another 30 seconds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat remaining 3 to 4 tbsp vegetable oil in large, heavy skillet over medium heat until rippling. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and brown well on both sides, a few at a time. Use more oil if necessary. Drain chicken on paper towels.

Place browned chicken pieces in shallow baking dish. Pour sauce over chicken, cover with foil and bake until chicken is tender, about 40 minutes.

CARNERO ENCHILADO-Lamb with Guajillo Chile Sauce

This incredible lamb dinner takes about an hour or so to prepare. Serves four to six and will delight even those folks who don't think they even like Mexican food! Recipe courtesy of Zarela Martinez.

4 to 6 oz dried chiles, either guajillo Guajillo Pepper.ancho Ancho / Pasilla Pepper. or Anaheim
4 garlic gloves, peeled
1 piece cinnamon (2 in) or 1 tsp ground cinnamon Ground Cinnamon

6 cloves
12 black peppercorns
1 cup water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 pounds lean boneless lamb, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
3 medium-large boiling potatoes, about 1 ¼ lb, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Rinse chiles thoroughly under cold water, removing seeds and veins. Heat griddle or cast-iron skillet until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Places chiles on griddle and heat, turning once or twice, just until the aroma is released, 1 or 2 minutes. Be very careful not to burn them or the dish will be bitter, Place chiles in bowl or saucepan and cover with boiling water. Let soak until somewhat softened, about 10 minutes.

Drain, then place chiles in a blender with 2 garlic cloves, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and water. Process until pureed, about 1 minute. With a wooden spoon or pusher, force puree through a medium-sized sieve, discarding the solids. Set aside.

In large, heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not quite smoking. Add the lamb cubes, onion and remaining garlic and cook, stirring often, until meat is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Drain off as much excess grease as possible. Pour in chile mixture and add potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, covered over low heat until lamb is tender but not overcooked, about 25 minutes.

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