Holiday mole and tamales


 (Marissa Holmes)

  • Prep Time


  • Cook Time


  • Total Time


  • Servings


"Mole and tamales are a tradition and highly anticipated by my family every holiday season. Here in California we can still break out the grill so this application is used on grilled lamb shoulder chops to add even more depth when charred. Don’t fear mole my friends it is fun to make and I always make twice as much and freeze half. Happy cooking!"


  • 10 ounces red tomato
  • 2/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable oil, plus a little more if necessary
  • 6 ounces (about 12 medium) dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
  • 3 ounces (about 6 medium) dried cascabel chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
  • 3 ounces (about 10 medium) dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large flat pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) un-skinned almonds
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground
  • 4 ea. corn tortillas, darkly toasted and broken into several pieces
  • 2 ounces cocoa powder
  • 3 quarts chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Salt
  • 1/3 cup palm sugar


Step 1

  • On a baking sheet, roast the tomatoes 4 inches below broiler until splotchy black and thoroughly soft, about 5 minutes per side. Scrape into a large bowl. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirringly nearly constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Scrape them in with the tomatoes.

Step 2

  • Brown other mole ingredients. In a large stock pot, heat the lard or oil over medium. When hot, fry the chiles, three or four pieces at a time, flipping them nearly constantly with tongs until their interior side has changed to a lighter color, about 20 or 30 seconds total frying time. Don’t toast them so darkly that they begin to smoke—that would make the mole bitter. As they’re done, remove them to a large bowl, being careful to drain as much fat as possible back into the pot. Cover the toasted chili’s with hot tap water and let re-hydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to insure even soaking.

Step 3

  • Remove any stray chili seeds left in the fat. With the pot still over medium heat, fry the garlic and almonds, stirring regularly, until browned (the garlic should be soft), about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove to the tomatillo bowl, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot.

Step 4

  • Add the raisins to the hot pot. Stir for 20 or 30 seconds, until they've puffed and browned slightly. Scoop them out, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot, and add to the tomatillos. Set the pan aside off the heat.

Step 5

  • To the tomatillo mixture, add the cinnamon, black pepper, anise, cloves, tortillas and chocolate. Add 2 cups water and stir to combine. Into a large measuring cup, tip off the chiles’ soaking liquid. Taste the liquid: if it’s not bitter, discard all but 6 cups of the liquid. (if you’re short, add water to make up the shortfall). If bitter, pour it out and measure 6 cups water. Scoop half of the chiles into a blender jar, pour in half of the soaking liquid (or water) and blend to a smooth puree. Press through china cap into a large bowl; discard the bits of skin and seeds that don’t pass through the strainer. Repeat with the remaining chiles.

Step 6

  • Return the stock pot to medium heat. When hot, pour in the chile puree—it should sizzle sharply and, if the pan is sufficiently hot, the mixture should never stop boiling. Stir every couple of minutes until the chile puree has darkened and reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, about a half hour.

Step 7

  • In two batches, blend the tomatillo mixture in vita mix as smoothly as possible (you may need an extra 1/2 cup water to keep everything moving through the blades), then strain it in to the large bowl that contained the chiles. When the chile paste has reduced, add the tomatillo mixture to the pot and cook, stirring every few minutes until considerably darker and thicker, 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 8

  • Add the broth and palm sugar to the pot and briskly simmer the mixture over medium to medium-low heat for about 2 hours for all the flavors to come together and mellow. If the mole has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little water. Taste and season with salt.