Winter is here, and this is my dark dish for dark days. Mole negro enmoladas, which are like enchiladas, only with mole sauce.
If you’re not familiar with it, mole, pronounced “mole-ay,” represents a variety of sauces, not just the chocolate one you may have run across in pretty much every Mexican restaurant in America; that one, incidentally, is, more or less, mole poblano.
Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, has the richest tradition with these sauces, which tend to be baroque, time-consuming and filled with lots of ingredients. You don’t make mole on a whim, and when you make it you make a lot.
That leaves lots of leftover sauce, and one of the chief uses of leftover mole is in enmoladas. You may have seen them here in the U.S. as “mole enchiladas,” which is indeed another way to put it, but enmolada, meaning “covered in mole,” is more common south of the border.
Enmoladas have few rules. You really only need some sort of mole, and soft corn tortillas. Everything else is up to you.
In this case, for winter solstice, I chose mole negro, the darkest mole there is, and I made some dark blue corn tortillas. Here is my recipe for mole negro, and if you’re interested in making your own tortillas, here is a tutorial on how to make corn tortillas.
I do have a number of other mole recipes on this site, however, and any of them will work. You can use the sauce from mole chichilo with venison, or my turkey mole, or even my pipian rojo, a simpler sauce based on seeds and red chiles.
You can also buy mole negro paste online or at Latin markets, then thin it down with broth, typically chicken broth. Lots of people do this, and in a pinch, go for it. But you will appreciate it more if you make your own mole.
As for a filling, you will want something shredded or diced — often turkey, chicken or pork — tossed with the mole sauce and topped with some melty cheese and maybe some herbs. In my case, I had some leftover shredded wild turkey thighs I used, and that was it for the filling. I did top the enmoladas with some crumbly cotija cheese, though.
Unlike enchiladas, enmoladas are not always baked. They are more often served individually: Stuffed, rolled, put on a plate and topped with the mole, rather than pulled out of a casserole dish.
Because of this, they don’t store. But they are so easy to make, once you have mole in the fridge, leftover meat and some corn tortillas, that you can make them in about 30 minutes on a worknight.
- 3 cups mole, any kind
- 1 pound leftover turkey, chicken or pork, shredded
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil or lard (optional)
- 1/2 cup cotija or other cheese to top enmoladas
- Preheat the oven to "warm." Set your dinner plates in the oven. Start by heating up the mole in a pot over low heat. You want to thin it to the consistency of melted ice cream. If it's too thick, add some broth. Keep it warm for now.
- Shred the meat (I used wild turkey thighs) and set them in an ovenproof bowl. Sprinkle some salt over them and mix in the chopped cilantro, if using. Ladle some mole over the meat and mix well. Set this in the warm oven.
- You need to make your tortillas pliable. There are two ways to do this. You can simply set them on a ragingly hot comal or heavy pan -- 600F is not too hot -- for a few seconds per side to get them soft, or you can heat the vegetable oil or lard over medium heat and pass the tortillas through the hot oil for just a few seconds. Don't leave them too long or you'll make tostadas. I prefer the oil-free method. Either way, you need to keep your tortillas hot, so put them in foil if you fried them, or in a tortilla warmer or wrapped in towels if you just heated them up.
- OPTIONAL: You can get more mole flavor by dipping the warm tortillas into thinned mole before rolling them. I do this for normal enchiladas, but not for enmoladas. That said, many people do dip their tortillas. To do so, ladle out some more mole from the pot and thin it with broth until it's just a touch thicker than the broth. Dip your tortillas in that quickly, shake off the excess, then fill them.
- Turn the heat up on your mole pot until it's bubbling gently. Get your plates ready and pull the meat from the oven, too. Working quickly, fill three tortillas with the meat mixture and set them, seam side down, on the warm plates. Top with the mole sauce and crumbled cheese and serve. Repeat with the remaining plates and tortillas.