chiles rellenos with mole poblano

March 8, 2014


We’re just back from Tulum where we consumed lots of beans, rice, guacamole, and other staples of the Mexican diet. For Sunday dinner I decided to try my hand at chiles rellenos with a traditional mole. The chiles rellenos probably need little explanation (other than that it simply means “stuffed chiles). The mole? Well, the story behind Mole Poblano is that “in the early 17th Century, a Dominican nun named Sor Andrea de la Asunción lived in a convent in Puebla de los Angeles, outside of Mexico City. The mother superior of her order asked her to create a special meal to honor and celebrate visiting dignitaries who would be arriving on a Sunday. Since this request came at the last moment, Sor Andrea had to make do with the ingredients that she already had in the convent kitchen. She enlisted the help of the native women who worked with her to invent something wonderful, using the tools at hand. These native women, descended from Aztecs, believed that chocolate was the perfect ingredient to add to a dish created for visiting noblemen, because in Aztec culture, only royal males were allowed to eat chocolate, so they added chocolate to the blend of chiles, herbs, seeds, and vegetables.” Seem a little far-fetched? Maybe, but I do believe that truth is often stranger than fiction so I’m happy to go with it. This is not a quick meal to prepare but the earthy scents and associations will fill the house and, while you cook, you can bask in the beautiful imaginings of white sand, warm winds, palm trees, and the sound of the surf.


Sor Andrea de la Asunción’s Mole Poblano

1/2 cup sunflower oil

3 ounces chiles anchos, about 6 or 7, stemmed and seeded

3 ounces chiles pasillas, about 12 or 13, stemmed and seeded

3 ounces chiles mulatos, about 6, stemmed and seeded

1/3 ounces dried chipotle chiles, about 4, stemmed and seeded

1/2 white onion, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

3 tbsps raw almonds with skin

3 tbsps raw shelled peanuts

3 tbsps raisins

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

4 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/2 cup reserved chile seeds (from chiles above)

5 whole cloves, stemmed

1/4 tsp anise seeds

1/4 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1 stick true or ceylon cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp Mexican oregano

1/2 pound roma tomatoes, about 2 , charred or roasted

1/3 pound tomatillos, about 2, husked, rinsed, charred/roasted

6 ounces Mexican style chocolate or bittersweet chocolate

5 cups veggie broth (plus 4 more cups to dilute later on)

1 tsp sea salt, or more to taste

1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted, to sprinkle at the end

In a large dutch oven set over medium high heat, add 1/2 cup oil. Once hot, about 2 minutes later, add the chiles in 2 or 3 batches and sauté, stirring often, and being careful not to let them completely burn. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a mixing bowl as you move along.

In the same oil, add chopped onion and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until they soften and release their aroma. Stir in the almonds, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds, and let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the sesame seeds, reserved chile seeds, stemmed cloves, anise seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, ground allspice, oregano. Stir frequently and let it all cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, stirring often. Make room again, add the tomatoes and tomatillos. Let it all cook for a couple minutes.

Incorporate the already sauteed chiles and pour in the vegetable broth. Stir and once it comes to a simmer, add the chocolate pieces and the salt. Mix well, and let it simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let the mix rest for 1/2 hour, so the chiles can completely soften.

In batches, puree the mixture in the blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside. (You can store this mole, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a month, or freeze it for up to a year.) When ready to eat, dilute a cup of mole with 1/2 cup vegetable broth in a saucepan and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.


Chiles Rellenos

5 chiles poblanos

2 tbsps olive oil

1/2 cup wild rice

1/2 cup basmati rice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups diced, peeled sweet potatoes

1 cup water

2 tbsps toasted pine nuts

1/4 currants

1 tbsp minced green onion

2 tbsps cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub chiles poblanos with the olive oil and place on a cookie sheet. Roast the chiles turning them occasionally until the skins are blackened and charred. When the skin of the chiles is sufficiently charred and blistered, remove from the heat and let them cool to room temperature. Peel the skin from the cooled chile; be careful to not tear the chile while peeling it.

Make a small slice into the side of the chile (this is the tricky part as roasted chiles are very soft, and tear easily). Insert a small spoon into the chile and scrape the seeds and the white membrane out, try to not tear the chiles flesh any more than possible, keeping the stems intact. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the wild rice  in a fine-meshed strainer to remove any residue of the grains’ bitter coating. Cook according to package instructions until done and set aside.

Rinse and drain the basmati rice in a fine-meshed strainer. Warm the oil in a covered pan. Add the onions and salt and cook on low heat, stirring now and then, until the onions are transparent, about 8 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, water, and drained basmati rice, cover, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 – 25 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste.

Just before removing from the heat, stir in the cooked wild rice, pine nuts, currants, green onions, cilantro, and lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Turn the oven down to 325 degrees. When all your ingredients are ready, stuff the chiles rellenos with the rice mixture. Drizzle with the Mole Poblano and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Warm in the oven for just 5 minutes or so to bring up the heat. Serve immediately with a little pico de gallo and a cold cerveza on the side.



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