Bienvenidos a Los Dos: Recipes

About Chef David Sterling

  Recado Negro/Chilmole Download PDF


Precious recado negro gathered in cheesecloth
THE WORD MOLE COMES FROM THE NÁHUATL MOLLI, or "sauce". Chilmole, then, is a mole or sauce of chiles. Called recado negro in Spanish, chilmole can be viewed as the Adam (or Eve!) of all moles, since its almost primordial formulation is obviously their precursor. Dried chiles are simply charred over a flame or hot coals, then ground with other spices to form a pungent, black paste. The paste is then used as a rub on meats or as a flavoring and thickening ingredient in sauces. The heat of the recado can be controlled by using hotter or milder chiles, to the diner's taste. The process of burning chiles produces an acrid smoke so fierce that it causes choking, sneezing and watery eyes, such that making recado negro within Mérida city limits has been banned. Like other recados, it is available commercially in brands such as El Yucateco and Marin, both in Mexican groceries and in the ethnic foods sections of many supermarkets. For recipes that call for recado negro, there is unfortunately no substitute.

• 1 lb. (500g) dried chile de árbol, chile ancho, or a mix of the two (the former is hotter, the latter milder), seeded and deveined
• 2 Tbs. (30ml) achiote seeds
• 5 large whole cloves
• 5 large whole allspice
• 1 Tbs. (15ml) black peppercorns
• 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) cumin seeds
• 1 Tbs. (15ml) coarse sea salt
• 1 Tbs. (15ml) dried Mexican oregano leaves, toasted (if using ground oregano, reduce quantity to 1 tsp/5ml)
• 10 large cloves garlic, peeled and charred
• 1 tsp. (5ml) white vinegar

STEP 1  CHAR THE CHILES over a charcoal or gas fire. With the larger anchos, this can be accomplished by simply placing them directly on the fire or hot coals; with the smaller chiles de árbol, a grilling basket serves well. Be careful: chiles contain a lot of natural oils and may burst into flame. Rescue the chiles while there still remains a bit of colored flesh. Toss into a stock pot filled with water as the chiles are finished; continue charring remaining chiles.

STEP 2  DRAIN THE CHILES through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Return the ash to the stockpot with clean water. Repeat. Collect the ash in a small bowl and add about 1/2 cup (125ml) of the black water from the last rinse.

STEP 3  PLACE NEXT SEVEN INGREDIENTS in a spice grinder or coffee mill adapted to that purpose. Grind to produce a fine powder. Pass powder through a fine sieve, then return to grinder; repeat. Discard any remaining hard particles.

STEP 4  PLACE THE CHILE ASH AND ITS LIQUID, spice mixture, garlic and vinegar in an electric or hand grinder, or a food processor and process until well blended. Collect mixture in a piece of cheesecloth and press to squeeze out water. Form mixture into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Store covered in the refrigerator up to one year.

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