Molé Making Brilliance from Megan Heberlein

A couple of things, for the record – I know Megan Heberlein through social media, and this post is written with her blessing – albeit she wanted to make sure that I did not refer to her as ‘any kind of expert,’ so I ain’t.

I connected with her through the Rancho Gordo Bean Club Members group, a gang of folks who share recipes, questions, techniques and all things bean-loving over on FB. Unlike a lot of social media in broad strokes and FB in particular, this group is fun, friendly, supportive, and ridiculously wholesome – I love it to pieces.

What drew my attention to her was a well thought out piece of advice on making and storing molé – one of those why didn’t I think of that cooking moments that you instantly want to adopt and turn others on to.

Her molé strategy is nothing short of brilliant, far as I’m concerned. As she notes below, this sauce is ubiquitous in Mexican regional cookery, and every family really does have their own fave – just like pasta sauce in Italy or bourguignon in France. I couldn’t say it any better than she does when she exhorts us to try a bunch and make a fave or three ours. So without further ado, here’s Megan’s stellar advice.

1. Make a big batch – a really big batch – as big of a batch as you are willing to deal with. It doesn’t take much longer, and mole freezes really well.

2. Use gloves for the chili handling. If you’re not already, it really does help keep the burn down!

3. Once everything is together and run through the blender to smooth it out, don’t pour it back into the pan. Set the oven for 250, and pour the mole into a roasting pan, or something similar that is size appropriate. It will take longer to cook down, but you don’t have to hover over it. Just walk away from it, give it a stir every couple hours – or even set your oven lower, and go to bed! The other great thing about this method is that you don’t have to worry about cleaning mole splatters off your walls and ceilings for months. 🙄

4. Cook it down. Cook it way down, and turn it into a paste. This will take up less space in your freezer, and is easy to turn into a sauce with the addition of stock.

5. Glass jars are your friends for storage. I usually pack mine into pint jars, and 1 pint jar plus stock is plenty to use on a family size package of chicken thighs. Come time to use, you can either thaw on the counter (if you’re one of those people who actually plan ahead), or stick in the microwave without the lid (if you’re me).  I haven’t tried it, but if you’re good with liquids in vacuum seal bags,  that would probably store really well, and just throw it into warm water to defrost.

6. Freeze, don’t can! I’ve got it on very good authority that canning mole at home is right out, even with a pressure canner – Apparently it’s too dense to be safe.

7. Every region of Mexico has it’s own style of mole, and every family has their own recipe.  Try various recipes, and find the style(s) you like! One of the most fun things about mole is that, because they are so varied, you can change up recipes as you’d like. Change up the peppers, the amounts of onion/garlic/tomato/tomatillo, the fruits, the nuts/seeds, whatever.

8. Know that every pepper has it’s own flavor profile, and playing with the peppers can change up the flavor. Ancho is fruity, chipotle is smoky, etc.

There you have it, with big thanks to Megan. What I love about her strategy is how demonstrative it is of the innovative capability of us home cooks – and it’s a great reminder to always be on the lookout for better ways to do stuff in your busy home kitchen – now y’all go have some fun!