Mole — Rich in history and in flavor
Text and photo by Meda Kessler
Juan Guevara began his culinary career at The Fort Worth Club as a dishwasher and worked his way up to head banquet chef.
As an apprentice, he competed in national and international cooking competitions and cooked at the James Beard House. He’s now in charge of the kitchen at Neighbor’s House Grocery in downtown Fort Worth. Guevara’s mole is a family recipe, and the rich flavor is worth all the chopping and blending. “I spent a lot of time with my great-grandmother, who made this recipe with a lot of passion,” he says. “When I was hired at the club, she decided to share it with me. Use it to braise meats or to make enchiladas. I think it’s a great way to use leftover holiday turkey.”
Makes 3 cups
- 10 ancho chiles, stems removed
- 10 guajillo chiles, stems removed
- ½ pound Roma tomatoes
- ½ pound tomatillos, rinsed after removing husks
- 1 large onion, cut into large dice
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup pepitas
- ¼ cup peanuts
- ¼ cup almonds
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1 ripe plantain (or banana), peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 dried whole cloves
- 1 star anise
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 corn tortilla, torn into small pieces
- 1 (2-ounce) tablet Mexican chocolate, chopped
- ¼ cup piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon salt
Toast chiles in a heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Remove and add to just-boiled water (enough to cover). Soak until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Lightly char tomatoes, tomatillos, onion and garlic in a heavy saute pan over medium-high heat, on the grill or over direct flame. Set aside. Toast sesame seeds, pepitas, peanuts and almonds in a skillet. Set aside.
In a pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add plantain and cook until golden brown. Set aside. Puree chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, garlic, sesame seeds, pepitas, peanuts, almonds and plantain in a food processor until mixture is smooth.
Add cloves, star anise, cinnamon, allspice, cumin, coriander and peppercorns to a skillet and lightly toast. Add to a grinder and blend.
Heat remaining oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add pureed sauce, ground spices, oregano, tortilla, chocolate, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tortilla pieces are soft and the sauce thickens.
Cool mixture, puree in a food processor and strain through a fine mesh chinois sieve for a smoother sauce.
Neighbor’s House Grocery In addition to grocery staples, specialty items and prepared foods, NHG serves made-to-order breakfast and lunch including daily specials created by chef Juan Guevara. NHG, which turned 2 in October, also caters. Look for wine dinners and other pop-up events via their social media.