Ancho Chile Mole
Ancho chillies are a popular dried variant of a poblano chile. Both are used in numerous Mexican dishes. The ancho is usually used in sauces, and the fresh poblanos in dishes such as chile rellenos or chiles en nogada. The flavour of the ancho chile itself can range from spicy to mild. This sauce, however, yields a pleasantly mild, savoury sauce.
The recipe I’m about to divulge (as previously, it was a closely guarded family secret, sorry mom and dad) is fairly easy to make, delicious and can be used in many dishes that I’ll suggest at the end.
Ancho chile sauce
ancho chile pods
salt to taste
choice of herb seasonings to taste
fine mesh sieve/strainer
The texture of a good ancho chile pod I find is like fruit leather; dry, but pliable and slightly sticky. You’ll want to begin by cutting off the stems, slicing the pod open and deseeding it. Open the pod so it can lay as close to flat on either side.
Heat a small frying pan and add a little bit of vegetable oil to coat. Fry each side of the pod briefly until it turns red. Some pods go bright, others just a dark brown depending on freshness. You don’t want to let it linger in the pan or the taste of your sauce will turn bitter.
The true secret to a delicious sauce is to soak them in very hot chicken broth or stock, or pour boiling water over the chillies and then add chicken stock. Soak them for 15-20 minutes or until they go soft. Then let them cool enough to blend and use a blender has a rubber seal or you’ll have liquid flying everywhere. (Note: this may or may not be from experience.)
Pour the mixture into a pan through a fine wire mesh sieve and use a spoon to push the liquid through. What you’re doing here is straining all the pulp and liquid, but not letting any of the skins into your sauce.
Put the strained sauce over low heat to reduce and season to taste. Add enough salt to take the bitterness away. (Take care here that if you add salt and taste, be sure the salt is fully incorporated before you decide it needs more otherwise you’ll end up with a VERY salt sauce.) If you desire an even thicker sauce, you can temper in an egg yolk or add a teaspoon of corn starch at a time and whisk until the desired thickness is achieved. It will also thicken some upon cooling and will thicken if added to any meats.
Some herb seasoning suggestions: cumin, granulated garlic.
Once it’s reduced, you can add it to any savoury dish for a rich, delicious flavour. It’s good with chicken over Spanish rice, with a slow cooked shredded or cubed beef over rice, or pork as a red sauce for enchiladas or in tamales!
I hope you enjoy this recipe. It really is delicious enough to not share.
Where to buy:
I’ve seen some in the deli section of the Queen Vic Markets, Casa Iberica has them sometimes, as does Oasis Bakery. See the Where to Buy page.