Mixiote de Borrego en Mole Coloradito: Lamb Shank in an Oaxacan Red Mole Sauce

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.

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Mole sauce:

6 plum tomatoes, roasted
2 garlic cloves, roasted
water for consistency
3 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp. dried oregano, toasted (Mexican preferred)
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground peppercorns, toasted
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, toasted
8 ancho chiles
6 guajillo chiles
1-1/2 oz. Mexican chocolate

Lamb shanks

4 medium to large lamb shanks (foreshanks preferred whenever possible)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
4 (12


To prepare the mole sauce:

In a blender or food processor, blend the tomatoes and garlic cloves, adding water if necessary. Strain and set aside.

In a spice grinder pulverize the sesame seeds, peppercorns, oregano and cinnamon, then set aside.

Make a lengthwise cut on one side of each ancho and guajillo chile and remove the seeds. Put the chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water, letting them soak for 20 minutes or until soft.

Place the chiles and their soaking water in a blender and puree. Strain the mixture and set it aside.

In a medium stockpot, heat 3 Tbsp. of the canola oil, then add the dried spices and stir continously. Add the two purees and bring to a boil. Add the chocolate, sugar, and salt to taste, then let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes.

To prepare the lamb shanks:

Season the lamb shanks with salt and in a hot skillet sear the shanks in oil on all sides. In a bowl, dip each shank into mole sauce and sprinkle with some of the vinegar, chopped onion and salt, then wrap in a banana leaf and then in aluminum foil. Bake at 325F for 3-1/2 to 4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. Place the shank on a plate and top with additional warm mole sauce.

Yields 4 servings.

Recipe from Chef Priscila Satkoff of Chicago’s fabulous restaurant ¡Salpicón!.