Conejo in Mole Rojo

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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3-4 lbs rabbit cut into pieces
2.5 oz whole dried ancho chiles
2 oz whole dried guajillo chiles
Cooking spray
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 shelled pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tbsp seeds from ancho and guajillo chiles
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
5 prongs from a star anise pod (half a pod)
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick pulverized with handle of a knife
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/8 tsp dried epazote (or marjoram)
1 large bay leaf
1/4 cup masa harina
3 medium tomatillos, scored so they don’t pop
1 small tomato, scored
1 medium onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic
1 quart chicken stock
Salt to taste
2 rounds of Ibarra Mexican chocolate


Place the oven rack in the middle position and heat to 350 degrees F.

Tear the tops off the chili peppers and empty the seeds into a small bowl. Discard the stems and any membranes and tear the chilies into flat pieces. Place them on a foil lined baking sheet in a single layer. Spray generously with cooking spray. Place them in the oven and allow to roast for 5-10 minutes or until they change color and a spicy caramel aroma floats through the kitchen. Be careful not to burn them as this will make your mole taste bitter. Once out of the oven, put them in a bowl and cover with warm water to rehydrate.

Put the almonds, pumpkin seeds and raisins on the baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and return to the oven until the pumpkin seeds take on a golden color and the raisins are slightly puffy. Again, be careful not to burn them. Set the pan aside and allow to cool.

In a heavy bottomed pan like a cast iron skillet, toast the chile seeds, sesame seeds, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper until the sesame seeds just start to change color and the whole thing smells sweet, nutty and spicy like incense.

Transfer the seeds and spices to a food processor and process for a few minutes or until it’s ground into a powder. Add the roasted almonds, pumpkin seeds and raisins and blitz until there are no chunks. Add the oregano, epazote, bay leaf and masa harina and continue to process until powderized.

Move the oven rack to the top position and turn the broiler on. Place the tomatillos, tomato, onion slices and garlic on a baking sheet and put it under the broiler. Let the tops of the tomatillos and tomato get completely charred before flipping to char the other side. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool a bit. Add to the food processor along with 1 cup of chicken stock and blitz with the spice/seed mixture until it’s smooth. Transfer this mixture to a bowl, cover and set aside.

Return the work bowl to the food processor and add the rehydrated chili peppers along with 3/4 C of the soaking liquid. Process until smooth.

Generously salt and pepper the rabbit. Heat a large dutch oven until hot, add a splash of oil then swirl to coat. Place the seasoned rabbit pieces in the pot and allow them to brown for 5-7 minutes without disturbing them. If you go to flip them and they’re stuck to the pan they aren’t ready to flip. Brown the other side then transfer to a plate.

Turn the heat down, then pour the chili pepper puree into the pan through a single mesh strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula to remove all the skins. Deglaze the bottom of the pan and cook until the mixture is very thick. Pour the spice/seed mixture into the pot through the strainer pressing on any solids. Add the chicken stock and chocolate then salt to taste. If you like it even sweeter you can add more sugar.

Return the rabbit to the pot and simmer uncovered over medium low heat until the rabbit is tender (about 1 hour).

Serve with fresh tortillas, cilantro and lime wedges.

From Return the rabbit to the pot and simmer uncovered over medium low heat until the rabbit is tender (about 1 hour). Serve with fresh tortillas, cilantro and lime wedges.