Quail in Oaxacan Black Mole

Black Mole, a king among moles, is as common to Oaxacan tables as is the characteristic black pottery.

6 quarts water
½ chicken, split lengthwise
4 chicken leg quarters
1 pound veal stew meat, in chunks
4 carrots
½ leek sliced
6 cloves garlic, whole
1 large white onion, sliced
½ rib celery, sliced
12 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
salt, to taste

Prepare the broth: Bring water to a boil in a stockpot. Add chicken, veal, carrots, leek, garlic, onion, celery, peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt.

Simmer until soup foams. Skim foam and simmer for 1½ hours.

Remove from heat. Set aside to cool, and skim off fat. Strain broth through a sieve and reserve 1½ to 2 quarts for the mole.

2 cups lard, preferably homemade, or vegetable oil
1 small sweet roll or croissant
3 ounces raw almonds, skinned
3 ounces raw peanuts or walnuts
4 ounces sesame seeds
1 medium plantain, sliced in ½-inch slices
1½ white onions, roasted
10 cloves garlic, roasted
10 chiles chihuacles or mulatos, roasted, seeded, deveined, and soaked in water
10 chiles pasillas, preferably black pasillas, roasted, seeded, deveined, and soaked in water
2 chiles chipotles, roasted, seeded, deveined, and soaked in water
2 to 3 tablespoons mixed seeds from above chiles, roasted
6 avocado leaves (optional) or ¼ teaspoon dried anise, roasted
1 tablespoon whole allspice, roasted
½ teaspoon black peppercorns, roasted
4 large plum tomatoes, roasted
4 tortillas, charred
1½ to 2 quarts chicken broth (see recipe above), skimmed of fat
4 onion slices
3 to 4 ounces Mexican chocolate tablets (containing cinnamon), in pieces
salt, to taste

Prepare the mole: Heat a small amount of lard in a skillet. Fry sweet roll until brown, and remove. Drain on paper towels. Add almonds, peanuts, and sesame seeds, and fry. Remove and drain. Add a little more lard, and fry plantain. Remove and drain.

In a blender or food processor, blend onions, garlic, and chiles chihuacles, chiles pasillas, and chiles chipotles. Add enough water in which chiles were soaked to facilitate blending. Set chile mixture aside. In a blender or food processor, blend roll, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, plantain, chile seeds, avocado leaves, anise, allspice, peppercorns, tomatoes, and tortillas with enough broth (about 1 to 2 cups) to blend smoothly. (Blend in batches, if necessary.) Strain and reserve.

Put remaining lard in a heavy saucepan. Sauté onion slices until brown and remove from pan. Pour in nut-spice mixture and fry over low heat until fat begins to rise to the surface. Add chile mixture. Continue cooking over low heat until fat rises to the surface. Salt to taste. Add chocolate and as much of the remaining broth as necessary to make a mole the consistency of thick cream.

Serve mole sauce with the quail or with tortillas, or with turkey, chicken, or pork that has been stewed and then cooked in the mole to flavor.

Prepare the quail: Lightly oil the quail and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place on a rack in a roasting pan and transfer to a 350° F oven. Roast for about 15 minutes.

To serve: Spread black mole into a round on a dinner plate. Squeeze 2 or 3 concentric circles of sour cream on the mole. Starting at the 12 o’clock point on the mole round, draw the tip of a sharp knife from the edge of the mole into the center. Repeat at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 o’clock points to make a weblike design. Place the quail on top of white rice in the center. Garnish with a cilantro leaf.


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