Mole Workshops at Casa Navarro
Casa Navarro State Historic Site recently wrapped up a series of Make Your Own Mole workshops in the months of November and December, building off previous explorations of historic foods and recipes. Mole, an earthy tasting sauce with origins in Mexico, is made from a mixture of various peppers, herbs, spices and fruit. The ingredients are typically roasted, fried and blended together using a mano y metate and then simmered with oil and broth in a large cazuela or cast iron pot. Although the origins of the dish are disputed, it is largely agreed that Mole comes from a mixture of Indigenous and European cooking practices and is now symbolic of Mexico’s culinary heritage.
Recipes for Mole were found in La Cocina en el Bolsillo, a series of cookbooks published in Mexico City at the turn of the 20th century and distributed throughout Mexico and the United States including San Antonio. The series is part of the Historic Mexican Cookbook Collection at UTSA Libraries Special Collections. Previously, we focused on modernizing a recipe for Mole Poblano found in the first volume of the cookbook series. The result was a Mole that contained over 15 ingredients, and took approximately 1.5 hours to prepare. This year, we hoped to modernize a Mole recipe from the historic cookbook collection that could be prepared with fewer ingredients and less time. Mole Verde or Green Mole, found in La Cocina en el Bolsillo No.2 was a clear choice since the ingredient list was minimal and noticeably different from other Moles since it emphasized the use of Tomato and Peppers.
MOLE VERDE: Se pelan las pepitas de Calabaza y se tuestan, moliéndose después juntamente con las cáscaras: se muelen después tomates crudos, chiles verdes remojados y unos pocos de cominos, proporcionando los tantos para que apenas pique. Se fríe todo en manteca y se echa el guajolote cocido, pudiéndose añadir gallina también cocida y papada de puerco.
GREEN MOLE: Peel and roast pumpkin seeds, and grind them together with the skins. Afterwards, grind raw tomatoes, soaked green chili peppers and a few cumin seeds, portioning the ingredients so the mix is barely spicy. Fry everything in lard, and add cooked turkey, which also could be cooked chicken and pork jowl.
Ingredients were purchased at the local grocery store and we set out making Mole Verde on a rainy day in October. The recipe turned out to be quick and simple to prepare as we had anticipated. We cut open and collected the seeds of a mix of five Poblano and Jalapeno peppers, then cut them into strips setting them aside for later. We cut five Tomatillos into quarters and measured out two ounces of pumpkin seeds, also known as Pepitas, and added Cumin seeds. Once our ingredients were portioned out and prepped, we proceeded to fry the mix of peppers and tomatillos in a pan with olive oil until they were lightly browned. Afterward, the Pepitas and Cumin were fried in the same pan until lightly browned and aromatic. We set
the seed mix aside to cool. The Tomatillos and Poblano/Jalapeno Peppers were placed into a blender with two ounces of chicken broth and blended together until a smooth consistency was achieved. After the seed mix had cooled, it was placed a spice grinder and ground coarsely, this later added great texture to our Mole.
We placed the Tomatillo/Pepper mix and the Pepita/Cumin seed mix into a large pot and let it simmer over low heat for approximately thirty minutes. This allowed time for the flavors to mix, producing a light Mole with a smoky, spicy and tart taste. In all, the preparation took approximately 15-20 minutes and the cooking approximately 30 minutes for a total of about 1 hour spent preparing the Mole.
Casa Navarro State Historic Site is located at 228 South Laredo Street in downtown San Antonio, along the Texas Independence and Hill Country Trail Regions.