Venison Mole

No, not some weird chimera, but a spicy Mexican dish.

Image of a small plastic nunA mole is a Mexican sauce, in this case made with venison. There are lots of stories about the genesis of the mole but one version says that a nun, back in Spanish colonial days, had to make a last-minute dish to cater for an unexpected visit from the archbishop.

She crossed her fingers – and probably herself – slaughtered an elderly turkey and made a sauce from all the bits and pieces in the convent kitchen.

The archbishop loved it and complimented the cook. When asked what went into it she said: “I made a mole”, mole apparently being the old word for “mix”. I suppose you could say it was a Holy Mole.

I didn’t have a tough old turkey to hand but I did have some very rare venison left over from a recent roast. If you’re starting from scratch, use something tender like venison loin and flash-fry it first.

Image of Mexican Food At Home cookbookThe recipe I based this on, from Thomasina Miers’ excellent Mexican Food At Home, uses the mole as a sauce for poached chicken.

It also uses peanuts rather than almonds, but as almonds are regularly used a thickener in Spanish cooking and the cuisines have some elements in common, I went with what I had.

Venison Mole

Image of venison mole served with rice


Around 400g rare venison, cut into bite-sized pieces

For the mole:

These quantities make enough mole paste to serve around six people. I used half and froze the rest for another occasion.

1 small onion, cut into 6 wedges

2 large ripe tomatoes

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled

6 allspice berries

1 cinnamon stick

2-4 chipotle chillies, depending on how hot you want it

2 ancho chillies (I used 1 tspn of ancho chilli powder)

175g unsalted almonds

3 tbsp olive oil

50g raisins (I used sultanas)

Venison or chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper

To serve:

Some coriander sprigs

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

Crème fraîche  or sour cream


Image of chipotle chillies

Tear the chillies into small flat pieces, discarding the stalks and seeds.

Briefly dry-fry the chillies, until  they soften and turn darker in colour, but be careful not to burn them.

Now soak them in hot water for 15-20 minutes.

While the chillies are soaking, heat a frying pan and dry-roast the onion wedges, garlic and tomatoes, turning from time to time.

Image of onion, tomato and garlic being blackened in a pan

Cook until they’re blistered, blackened and soft, then slip the skins off the garlic and put the whole lot in a blender, along with the ancho chillies (or powder) and the chipotles. I used four chipotles and the finished sauce was spicy but to my palate not too hot.

Toast the cinnamon and allspice in a dry frying pan for around 20 seconds, then grind to a powder and add to the blender.

Fry the almonds in a tablespoon of oil until lightly browned, add to the blender.

Fry the raisins or sultanas in the same oil for a few minutes until they caramelise, and put in the blender with the other ingredients.

Whizz everything together (believe it or not this is a simplified mole sauce), adding just enough stock to stop the blades from clogging. You’re aiming for a thick, smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Image of a bowl of mole paste

You can prepare the mole ahead to this point and keep it in the fridge for a day or two.

Just before you want to eat, heat the remaining oil in a deep frying pan and quickly flash-fry the venison until it’s browned on all sides and (if it’s raw) cooked through to your taste. Remove and keep warm.

In the same oil – you may need to add a little more – cook the sauce for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Turn the heat down so the sauce doesn’t split and stir in enough stock to loosen it to the consistency of double cream.

Check the seasoning and either pour the sauce over the meat or stir the meat through it to reheat.

Garnish with coriander, red onion and sour cream and serve.

Image of finished dish


7 thoughts on “Venison Mole

  1. I do love Mole sauce, such a distinctive taste. I might have to make this later in the week, although probably with a chook (and some chocolate chucked in – if I can chuck cheese or chocolate in a dish then I will!) Too many chucks and chooks in that sentence, I’ve just realised…

  2. Your mole sounds terrific! I have found that mole freezes well so I’ll make a big batch of this and freeze it into small portions. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Game On! | Mrs Portly's Kitchen

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