Nopa Kitchen + Bar’s 30­-Minute Mole (Renee Comet/for The Washington Post; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick)

T he accompanying recipe might raise the eyebrow of anyone who has spent hours making the deeply flavored sauce that’s ubiquitous and beloved in its native Mexico. But this collaborative effort from Nopa Kitchen + Bar in Penn Quarter has the hallmarks of a proper mole: smooth heat and fruitiness. It’s rich in color and clingy-thick.

To make it, you need a pressure cooker and a kitchen scale. Once the batch of dried chili peppers has been toasted and all the solid ingredients have gotten cozy in melted pork fat, it takes a half-hour under pressure. Minus its cinnamon stick, the mixture is pureed until smooth.

Nopa serves its mole with brunch chilaquiles, but it can go with chips or on roast turkey or pork, too.

30-Minute Mole

32 servings (makes 8 cups)

Serve with chips and guacamole, on meats and with roasted vegetables.

The mole can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.


3 ounces dried guajillo chili peppers, stemmed and seeded

1 1/2 ounces dried ancho chili peppers, stemmed and seeded

1 1/2 ounces dried chipotle chili peppers, stemmed and seeded

1 1/2 ounces dried pasilla chili peppers, stemmed and seeded

1/2 ounce dried arbol chili peppers, stemmed but not seeded

1/2 cup 4 ounces lard

About 1/4 cup packed (1 ounce) dark raisins

Scant 1/2 cup (2 ounces) white sesame seeds

Scant 1/2 cup (2 ounces) roasted, salted peanuts

1/4 cup (1 ounce) hulled, roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (64 percent cacao), coarsely chopped

One 2-inch-long heel of a baguette (2 ounces)

One 3-inch cinnamon stick

4 ounces light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 small white onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

4 cups no-salt-added chicken broth


Combine the dried guajillo, ancho, pasilla, chipotle and arbol peppers in a large, dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant and slightly darker in color. Turn off the heat.

Melt the lard in the pressure cooker over medium-low heat. Add the toasted peppers, raisins, sesame seeds, baguette piece, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, cinnamon stick, brown sugar, tomato paste, onion, garlic, cumin, allspice and black peppercorns..Cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times, then add the broth, increase the heat to high, lock on the pressure cooker lid and set the pressure.

Once the correct pressure is reached, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook undisturbed for 30 minutes.

De-pressurize the pressure cooker and uncover; discard the cinnamon stick. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a high-powered blender. Puree until smooth, making sure the peppercorns have broken down.

The mole can be used right away; it can also be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

SOURCE From Alberto Baisano and Matt Kuhn, sous-chef and executive chef, respectively, at Nopa Kitchen + Bar in the District.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to

NUTRTITIONAL ANALYSIS Per serving: 140 calories, 3g protein, 14g cholesterol, 8g fat, 3g saturated fat, 14g carbohydrates, 45mg sodium, 2g fiber, 10g sugar

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