Why wouldn’t the cooks of the prehistoric, ash-covered village of Cerén in El Salvador have developed sauces to serve over meats and vegetables? After all, there is evidence that curry mixtures were in existence thousands of years ago in what is now India, and we have to assume that Native Americans experimented with all available ingredients. Perhaps this mole sauce was served over stewed duck meat, as ducks were one of the domesticated meat sources of the Cerén villagers.
- 3 tbsp pumpkin or squash seeds (pepitas)
- 4 tomatillos, husks removed
- 1 tomato, roasted and peeled
- 1/2 tsp chile seeds, from dried chile pods
- 1 corn tortilla, torn into pieces
- 2 tbsp red chile powder, such as New Mexican, guajillo, or Chimay
- 1 tsp annatto seeds, or substitute achiote paste
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 ounce Mexican chocolate; or substitute bittersweet chocolate
- Heat a heavy skillet over high heat; add the pumpkin seeds, and dry-roast until the seeds start to pop. Shake the skillet once they start to pop, continuing until they turn golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Take care that they don’t darken and remove from the pan to cool completely.
- Place the seeds in a spice mill or coffee grinder and process to a fine powder.
- Put the pumpkin seeds, tomatillos, tomato, chile seeds, tortilla, chile powder, and annatto or achiote in a blender or food processor and process, using just enough broth to form a paste.
- Reheat the skillet over medium heat, add the oil, and when hot, add the paste. Fry the paste, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 4 minutes.
- Whisk in the remaining chicken broth and the chocolate, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened to desired consistency. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with either broth or water.
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Managing Editor | Mark is a freelance journalist based out of Los Angeles. He’s our Do-It-Yourself specialist, and happily agrees to try pretty much every twisted project we come up with.
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