Mole de Olla: Mexican beef stew

Mole de Olla is a rich and hearty beef soup very popular in center Mexico. A broth made with beef meat, bones and vegetables so flavored and nutritious.

Despite the look and some ingredients, this soup is not spicy. It is pretty easy to make it at home and all you need is one single pot, can’t get more easier than that!

A bowl of mole de olla and some small bowls around containing the garnish (chopped chillies and onions, limes wedges).

What is Mole de Olla made of?

Despite the name, Mole de Olla is not made in a thick sauce with lots of spices as the most traditional moles are made in Mexico. Instead, this stew is made in a broth with vegetables and flavored with a light chilli sauce that gives it a red color and a lightly smokey flavor.

How is made this mexican beef mole?

The dish takes three easy steps to make. The first one starts by boiling the meat and bones with a few spices like garlic, onion and bay leaves.

The second steps includes making a sauce using some dried chillies, being Guajillo and Chile ancho the most commons, but other types can be also used depending in preferences or availability. The sauce is then added to the broth enriching the stew and adding an amazing smokey flavor.

The third and last step is when vegetables are incorporated to the stew. There are variations and of course, everyone can add whatever they have in hand or is in season. Between those vegetables, a traditional Mole de Olla will always include Xoconostle.

What is Xoconostle

Xoconostle is the fruit of some types of cactus, specially those find in central Mexico. The taste is tart and sour and is a seasonal fruit (end of summer to all fall around).

Read more about Xoconostle here.

It is not easy to find Xoconostle outside Mexico, sometimes is not even easy to find it even in some states. So, for the rest of us, making Mole de Olla as authentic as it is, might be not an option.

Xoconostle: Image by Tibor Janosi Mozes from Pixabay 

Mole de Olla Recipe

Rinse the meat with cold water, pat dry it and then cut it into chunks. Place it in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, the bay leaves and a tablespoon of salt.

Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for about 1 hour. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables: Wash and peel them, then cut them into chunks. Reserve.

Prepare the sauce

Place the tomatoes in a pot with plenty of water, bring to a boil and as soon as it boils, turn off the heat and add the guajillo and ancho chillies. Let it sit in the hot water for 20 minutes or until the water is just warm.

Open the chilies in half, discard the seeds and the stem and put in a blender together with the tomatoes, garlic and onion. Add a cup of the water where the chiles soaked and blend for 4 minutes at maximum speed. Strain the sauce.

Add the sauce and epazote to the pot where the meat is cooking. Keep cooking at medium heat for one more hour. Check the meat, it should be very tender before the next step (See notes).

Add the vegetables and if necessary, more water so that all the ingredients are well covered in the broth. Boil everything over medium heat until the vegetables are tender. Add salt to taste and turn off the heat.

Serve with chopped onion and green chilies, a squeeze of lemon (lime) and corn tortillas.

Recipe notes

  • The cooking time will depend on the type of meat you are using, so sometimes it is necessary to leave cooking between two and three hours.
  • You can test the meat by inserting a fork in a piece, if you see that there is a lot of resistance the meat still lacks cooking, if on the contrary the fork is easily inserted, the meat is ready.
  • Some people replace Xoconostle with tomatillo to give a lightly sour taste to the stew. Added them chopped with the other vegetables if you find fresh tomatillo where you live.

Mole de Olla

Mole de Olla is a rich and hearty beef soup very popular in center Mexico. A broth made with beef meat, bones and vegetables so flavored and nutritious.
PREP 15 minutes
COOK 3 hours
TOTAL 3 hours 15 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 6
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 2.2 lb beef shank
  • 1.1 lb marrow bones
  • 2 fresh corn on the cob (cut in 3 pieces)
  • 2 medium zucchini (cut in chunks)
  • 2 medium carrots (cut in chunks)
  • 7 oz green beans (200)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 Xoconostles (see notes)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 epazote sprig (or 1 tsp. of dried epazote)
  • 2 bay leaves

For the sauce:

  • 4 guajillo chilies
  • 2 ancho chili peppers
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled)

Instructions

  • Rinse the meat with cold water, pat dry it and then cut it into chunks. Place it in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, the bay leaves and a tablespoon of salt.
  • Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for about 1 hour. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
  • While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables: Wash and peel them, then cut them into chunks. Reserve.

PREPARE THE SAUCE

  • Place the tomatoes in a pot with plenty of water, bring to a boil and as soon as it boils, turn off the heat and add the guajillo and ancho chillies. Let it sit in the hot water for 20 minutes or until the water is just warm.
  • Open the chilies in half, discard the seeds and the stem and put in a blender together with the tomatoes, garlic and onion. Add a cup of the water where the chiles soaked and blend for 4 minutes at maximum speed. Strain the sauce.
  • Add the sauce and epazote to the pot where the meat is cooking. Keep cooking at medium heat for one more hour. Check the meat, it should be very tender before the next step (See notes).
  • Add the vegetables and if necessary, more water so that all the ingredients are well covered in the broth. Boil everything over medium heat until the vegetables are tender. Add salt to taste and turn off the heat.
  • Serve with chopped onion and green chilies, a squeeze of lemon (lime) and corn tortillas.

NOTES

  • The cooking time will depend on the type of meat you are using, so sometimes it is necessary to leave cooking between two and three hours.
  • You can test the meat by inserting a fork in a piece, if you see that there is a lot of resistance the meat still lacks cooking, if on the contrary the fork is easily inserted, the meat is ready.
  • Some people replace Xoconostle with tomatillo to give a lightly sour taste to the stew. Added them chopped with the other vegetables if you find fresh tomatillo where you live.
Nutrition
Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 104mg | Potassium: 1154mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 7813IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 5mg
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