Based on Rick Bayless’ Red Peanut Mole sauce, served with duck at his restaurant Topolobampo in Chicago.

Salsa Negra Peanut Mole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Having premade salsa negra or other chile pastes around in the freezer is a great time saver when making moles.
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tomato, charred and peeled
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts
  • ¼ tsp each ground cloves, cumin
  • ½ tsp each ground coriander, paprika
  • 1 cinnamon stick or ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 oz salsa negra
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro and pickled red onions for garnish
  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, saute the onion and garlic and ginger until softened.
  2. Add the tomato, peanuts, all spices, dried fruit, sesame seeds, honey, and 1 cup of chicken broth, simmer 30 minutes or until fruit is softened.
  3. Puree the mixture and bread together until smooth, adding additional broth if necessary.
  4. In the saucepan, saute salsa negra for 1 min. Add the pureed mixture, balsamic vinegar, and additional chicken broth until sauce is the right consistency for you.
  5. Mix well and simmer 45 min. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. For best results, brown some chicken thighs, pour sauce over and bake for 20-30 min at 375F.
There are many recipes for salsa negra on the internet, choose one that uses dried morita chiles for the best flavor. Other dried fruits besides raisins can be used, such as apricots, cherries. Start with 1 oz salsa negra and add more if the spiciness is tolerable.


I created this recipe after watching an episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network. I’d long wanted to visit Topolobampo to try the Duck with Red Peanut Mole sauce, but couldn’t really justify the expense when Xoco was so closeby, and so much cheaper, and so delicious. Xoco does a salsa negra pork belly torta, which introduced me to the wonder that is salsa negra. Now, I always have some of the sweet, hot, smoky stuff in my freezer.

This is the recipe that I use:

2 1/2 ounces (roughly 2 1/2 cones)piloncillo (Mexican unrefined sugar) or
1/3 cup dark brown sugar plus 2 tsp molasses
Vegetable oil to a depth of 1/4 inch for frying
4 ounces (about 50) dried chipotle chiles (preferably the cranberry-red colorados (moritas), not the sandy brown mecos), stemmed
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Salt, about 1/2 tsp

Dissolve the piloncillo in a cup of boiling water. Fry the chiles in hot oil for 2 minutes, transfer into the sweet water container when done. Pour off most of the oil, and cook the garlic until golden. Puree everything in food processor or blender until as smooth as possible. Clean the frying pan, add a thin coating of oil, fry the puree over medium-high heat for 1 min. After it cools, freeze it.

If you look at most mole recipes, one of the first steps is always to toast or fry the dried chiles until they practically smoke, and eventually they end up being pureed with garlic and something sweet, and then sometime later they end up being fried again before being simmered in sauce.  Frying chiles is annoying, time consuming, and sometimes makes you feel like you are breathing poisonous gas. Making the chili paste separately saves a ton of time, and also means you only have to fry chiles once for every five or six moles you make.

Needless to say my peanut mole recipe is awesome.