Oaxacan Red Molè

Photo by Carol Sternkopf

 “Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter! No, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!” Remember that old candy bar commercial that suggested that only a collision could bring the two flavors together? It turns out they are an obvious pairing for countless confections and desserts. Chocoholics everywhere agree that a day without chocolate is a day without sunshine. Eating chocolate causes endocrine glands to secrete hormones that affect your feelings and behavior by actually making you happy. Research has found that chocolate eaten in moderation can even lower blood pressure. One T-shirt I agree with reads: “Emergency alert: If wearer of this shirt is found vacant, listless or depressed, administer chocolate immediately!”

Just like many other great products that are made right here in Oregon, chocolate has an impressive list of artisan chocolatiers. These items range from flavor-infused truffles and candies to cakes, cookies, drinking chocolate, baking essentials and many other specialty chocolate items. Euphoria Chocolate Company in Eugene, for example, makes European-style truffles that are infused with Oregon Pinot gris, Pinot noir and Cabernet.

Unsweetened chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Most chocolate that is eaten directly is a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat, and sugar making it ideal for creating candies and other confections. Although the bitter flavor of unsweetened chocolate is not so good to eat alone, it can be incorporated very successfully into savory dishes. It is best when used in combination with several other flavors allowing the chocolate to be a nuance rather than an overpowering flavor on the palate. In this ancho chile molè, I have used ancho and guajillo chiles, onion, garlic, tomatoes and spices with a subtle backdrop of cinnamon, raisins and chocolate to create a sauce that will make your taste buds sing. Instead of using the traditional Mexican chocolate, I add Oregon flair by using 98 percent bittersweet chocolate from Pegasus Gourmet Chocolates in Bend. For thirty-five years Susan and Kaz Moini ran a chocolate shop in Newport, Oregon called West Homemade Candies that was originally founded in 1892. They moved to Bend and started Pegasus eight years ago. All the chocolates are made on site, and they import their beans from South Africa to create their super high quality confections.

Serve the molè with this slow-roasted carne asada seasoned pork shoulder for a spectacular Mexican feast. This sauce also freezes well, so store half of the recipe in the freezer to use later over a simply grilled breast of chicken for a quick and delicious south-of-the-border meal.

((youtube|Home Grown Chef Makes Oaxacan Red Mole))

Oaxacan Red Molè


8 ancho chiles

8 guajillo chiles

½ cup raisins

8 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 large white onion, unpeeled and quartered

½ cup shelled almonds

1 two-inch piece canela stick (Mexican cinnamon)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon Mexican oregano

6 Roma tomatoes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 ounces bittersweet Pegasus chocolate

2 cups chicken broth



Cut the chiles open vertically and remove the stems and seeds. In a large sauté pan or griddle, toast the chiles on both sides, flattening with a spatula, until their skins blister and colors change. Put the chiles in a bowl and add the raisins. Cover with boiling water and soak for at least fifteen minutes until softened. Drain the chiles and raisins then purée in a food processor with a bit of water. Strain through a sieve or food mill into a bowl. Toast then peel the garlic and onion. Put into food processor. Toast the almonds and canela. Put in food processor with the onion and garlic. Add salt pepper, thyme and oregano. Purée, adding water only as necessary. Strain into bowl of chiles. Toast and peel tomatoes. Purée and strain into separate bowl. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the chile mixture (it spatters) and cook, stirring for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree and stir for a few more minutes. Add the chocolate and broth. Lower the heat and simmer for twenty minutes. The sauce should be as thick as heavy cream. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Yucatan Style Pork Shoulder


6 pound pork shoulder (not lean) bone in* or boneless

3 tablespoons Carne asada seasoning

¾ cup sour orange juice

½ teaspoon whole allspice

2 tablespoon Achiote paste (available in Mexican section)

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 large white onion, sliced into thin slices

3 banana leaves



Toast banana leaves over direct gas burner until color changes. Line roasting pan with banana leaves, shiny side down making sure roasting pan is large enough to hold pork leaving plenty of overhang to wrap around pork. In a medium bowl mix together the orange juice, Carne asada seasoning, allspice, Achiote paste, garlic, oregano and sliced onion. Place pork on banana leaves and pour mixture over the top. Wrap tightly with banana leaves and cover pan with foil. Marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pork in oven for about 30 minutes (to take chill off of pork). Turn oven down to 325 and roast for additional 3 ½ to 4 hours until very tender.  Remove foil and banana leaves. Serve with warm tortillas and chipotle crema.

 *Add additional weight for bone


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