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Mast Brothers Mole

IMG_0369The recent signs of spring are so small that, if I wasn’t desperate, I might not have noticed them at all. A little more light, a little later in the day, and I’m a completely different person. Once a layer comes off, I find it impossible to put it back on.  Even with the frequent temperature drops, I stubbornly leave my gloves at home and my puffy coat is not coming out again until next year.  All of which leaves me cold but determined.  I’m also taking advantage of the break in the weather to enjoy my neighborhood in a way that I haven’t for a very, very long time. I reference Brooklyn in my posts often but the changes in the last few years can sometimes feel like a cautionary tale about getting everything you wish for.

IMG_0224When I first moved to Cobble Hill after college, most of my friends were still committed to 2-year runs in Manhattan shoe boxes.  My family who only passed through the borough on their way from the airport were convinced I was living in a cross between Saturday Night Fever and a Children of Men dystopia. When I met them in the city for a trip to museum or show, I’d tell them about the tree-lined streets surrounding Edith Wharton-brownstones in Brooklyn Heights, the middle eastern shops and restaurants on Atlantic Avenue, the fruit peddler with a horse drawn cart working his way past the Italian butcher shops and markets in Carrol Gardens, and the bodegas on Smith Street where I could get almost everything I was missing from home.  They’d smile politely and give me $20 so I could take a cab instead of risking a dangerous subway ride home – at 3 o’clock in the afternoon – on a Wednesday.  Brooklyn was a hard sell, but people eventually bought it.  And then, they bought everything in sight.  Where it was once all neighborhood standbys, there’s now a revolving roster or new shops, cafes, and restaurants.  It some times feels like all of Smith Street is playing a round of musical chairs for highly curated home stores, artisanal food shops, and crafty bars.

Mole 2 Mole 3

The Mast Brothers would seemingly be part of the very beard-and-bell jar Brooklyn I’m so conflicted about –  if it wasn’t for the fact that they’ve been doing it for so long, and so well.  Reading about their beginnings in their Williamsburg apartment – husking cacao nibs with a hair dryer, sourcing from small cacao farmers, creating their bean to bar chocolate with their distinctive wrapping, and sailing a  70-foot cargo ship with 20 tons of Dominican organic cocoa beans into Red Hook – I felt very nostalgic for the recent past.  The years when I couldn’t turn a corner without coming across something new, interesting, and thoughtfully produced.

IMG_0311Mole 4

I was looking for the challenge of a long ingredient crawl and their recipe for mole was really more map than recipe.  I started by seeing what chiles I had then set out Saturday to gather the rest.  My last resort was the new solar-wind powered Whole Foods on 3rd Avenue which I was desperately hoped to avoid on a weekend – pretty day or not.  It turned out to be unnecessary.  Between Sahadi’s and the Two for the Pot – a tea store with both an extensive British cookie (excuse me biscuit) and dried chiles selection – I was able to find everything I needed.  Exactly where it had always been.


Mast Brothers Mole Sauce
Adapted from the Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook by Rick Mast and Michael Mast. I’ve skirted around trying a full-on mole recipe for years.  There was something open ended about this version which falls somewhere between a mole Poblano and dark mole Oaxaca. Full disclosure, I did not use Mast Brothers chocolate which is a little too dear (as in pricey) to have any other way than on its own.  Also, I had actual artisinal chocolate from Oaxaca which almost never happens.  Unlike more traditional recipes, it doesn’t call for setting the seeds on fire or burning the tortilla to a crisp but I did roast the chiles and vegetables.  Instead of bananas, I went with ripe, nearly black plantains.  Next time, I’ll definitely be more prepared to play with fire.

Whenever a recipe pairs with poached chicken and calls for large amounts of stock, I kill two birds (or 1 bird) and make my own stock.  It renders the perfect amount of shredded chicken that can be quickly simmered with the mole.  I’ve included the recipe below.

1 pound plum tomatoes, rinsed, trimmed, and scored
3 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
½ large white onion, cut in thick rounds
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
8 mulato chiles, stemmed and wiped clean
6 pasilla chiles, stemmed and wiped clean
6 ancho chiles, stemmed and wiped clean
2 chipotle chiles, stemmed and wiped clean
½ cup whole sesame seeds plus more for garnish
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon whole allspice berries
¼ teaspoon whole cloves
1 to 3 tablespoons best-quality lard
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup whole natural almonds
¼ cup whole natural pecans
1 white corn tortilla
1 large ripe plantain, mostly brown or black spots, sliced
8 to 9 cups chicken stock
5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon sea salt

4 cups shredded poached or rotisserie chicken

Preheat the oven to 500°F.  Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Spread the mulato and pasilla chiles on a foil lined baking sheet in the preheated oven. Check regularly and turn until puffed and black on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Place the roasted chiles, ancho, and chipotle chiles in a large bowl with water to cover. Soak for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, place the tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, and garlic on a foiled baking sheet. Check regularly and turn until charred and cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. This can also be done in a broiler but should be watched closely. Set aside until ready to use.

In a cast-iron skillet, toast the sesame seeds, peppercorns, thyme, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves over low-heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool. Grind in a spice grinder to a fine powder and set aside.

Melt the lard in the same skillet over low heat. Add the raisins, almonds, pecans, and tortilla and cook over low heat until the almonds are toasted and raisins are plump. Remove from the skillet and set aside until ready to use.

Add the remaining lard to the to skillet and cook over high heat until melted. Add the plantains and cook until blackened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Blend in the spices and set aside until ready to use.

Drain the chiles. Combine the chiles and 4 cups of chicken broth in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Strain the chile mixture into a large pot and simmer over medium heat, partially covered, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Combine the roasted vegetables, nut mixture, and plantains in a blender of food processor with 4 cups of chicken broth. Pulse until smooth and add to the chile mixture. Simmer covered over low heat until thickened slightly, about 45 minutes. Stir in the chocolate and whisk until melted and well incorporated, about 5 minutes. Use remaining chicken broth to thin the sauce to taste. Stir in salt and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Toast additional seeds in a dry skillet and toast. Use to garnish.

When ready to serve, heat up poached chicken with mole to taste and cook over medium heat until warmed through. Serve with warm corn tortillas or over rice.


Chicken Stock

1 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, divided in half
4 large plum tomatoes, quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and halved crosswise
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, trimmed 1-inch above the stems, tender leaves reserved for garnish
4 sprigs fresh oregano, plus more to garnish
4 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
1 dried bay leaf
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

To prepare the stock, line a fine-mesh sieve with a double thickness of cheese cloth. Freeze the lined strainer until ready to use.

Place the chicken breast, tomatoes, carrot, onion, fresh herbs, garlic, bay leaf, salt, peppercorns in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot with 8 cups of water. Bring to a steady simmer over medium heat, and cook covered for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the chicken to cool in the broth.

Carefully lift the chicken pieces out of the pot and transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and set aside.

Pass the stock through the chilled sieve into a large mixing bowl. Discard the solids. Return the stock to the pot and set aside.


20 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m drooling at all of these spices!!!

    26 March 2014
    • hungrysofia #

      The kitchen smelled pretty incredible!

      26 March 2014
  2. Hell yeah!!

    27 March 2014
  3. luckystaranise #

    Wow this looks amazing, would love to try and recreate this some time!

    27 March 2014
  4. I didn’t know the Mast Bros. started out like that! Interesting.

    Mole is on my cooking to-do list. I better get to it soon! I’ve been reading through the recipes in Gran Cocina Latina. Btw, are those your jars of spices? So organized! They look great.

    27 March 2014
  5. Thanks for sharing! I can’t believe how many ingredients and spices it takes to make mole. I’ve been considering buying the Mast Brothers cookbook—are there a good number of savory recipes in it besides this one?

    27 March 2014
    • hungrysofia #

      It does! I’m thinking cacao nib salad tonight.

      27 March 2014
  6. I’ve always wanted to make mole…the list of ingredients in here sounds like perfection 🙂 I’m adding this on my “to-do” list of recipes to make, for sure!

    27 March 2014
  7. Eileen Harris #

    What a fabulous recipe! Wish I could eat mole. It is simply too spicy for me. I was a sort of student peace-corps worker in Mexico in 1963. At a special dinner,all the priests and nuns laughed so hard when I took a big bite of chicken with mole poblano. And of course there was no bottled water right there to soothe my scalded mouth…but there was cider (sidra). Later they served me some plain chicken after all the merriment. I was a Spanish major in college,and that month in Jilotepec (a small town that is now a suburb of Mexico City) took away my fear of speaking Spanish, even if my grammar was incorrect.

    27 March 2014
  8. I love mole. I often have it in restaurants. However, I have to be honest I wouldn’t take the time to make this delicious recipe. Having said that, what would it take to be invited to your house when you make this dish? Laughing—–

    27 March 2014
  9. I was in Brooklyn this morning (Boston now), but the next time I visit I’m definitely checking this place out. I love mole, but it’s a commitment–both in ingredients and cooking–so you have to wait for the moment to arrive when clearing the decks is a real possibility. Jody and I love long, convoluted recipes and I admire your willingness to blog about them. Thanks for what sounds like a great recipe and a spice store within shouting distance of our son’s apartment in Bushwick. Next time… Ken

    27 March 2014
    • hungrysofia #

      Definitely worth the effort! Also, I think it freezes well so even if you spend all day on it, you can enjoy it for a long time.

      27 March 2014
  10. Edna #

    I had my first taste of mole in Nogales, Mexico years ago. It was rich and wonderful and tasted like no other sauce I had ever tried. It is such a traditional dish no one dares serve it with roast pork or for example a juicy roasted cornished hen. Why not??

    31 March 2014
    • hungrysofia #

      Definitely why not? If you try it with pork let me know how it turns out!

      1 April 2014
  11. Lucy Tremols #

    Oh my goodness, I’ve been craving mole lately and this sounds insanely good! I must try to make it soon! It’s so hard in these parts to get all those different chiles! Do you recommend any online sources? And lard? I’ve never cooked with it in my life! Where do I get that? Oh, and as far as plantains, it’s almost impossible to get really ripe ones here. You mentioned banana, can I use that instead if necessary?? Thank you Ana!! XO

    1 April 2014
    • hungrysofia #

      Hi Lucy, or Amigo Foods are a good place to start for the dried chiles. The original recipe called for banana so you can definitely use them here. As for the lard, I get it at the butcher or specialty shop so it’s freshly rendered. People have been reconsidering the health benefits of lard over processed fats but its important to get the best quality possible. Hope this helps! Ana

      1 April 2014
      • Lucy Tremols #

        Will definitely look into thise sites for the chiles. I render my own duck fat, coukd I use that?

        2 April 2014
  12. Wow, this sounds amazing, will try that out. I love your food pictures!! 🙂

    4 April 2014
  13. Kerry #

    I can’t wait to try this! ARe all the chilis dried?
    I love your blog—-thanks for posting!

    6 April 2014
  14. Wow, the pictures look amazing. I love mole! I may just have to give your recipe a try! Thanks 🙂

    23 June 2014

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