• Spatchcock, mole maximo and refried beans (The Chefs' Line)

Mole, a complex sweet and sour velvet sauce, is a classic Mexican dish. This is a modern mole, which I learnt to make in Mexico city.






Skill level

Average: 3.9 (33 votes)


Holy trinity chilli oil

  • 2 ancho chillies (see Note)
  • 2 pasilla chillies (see Note)
  • 2 guajillo chillies (see Note)
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil 


Refried beans

  • 500 g dried black turtle beans, rinsed
  • 1 white onion, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole
  • 3 sprigs epazote (see Note)
  • 2 jalapeños, halved lengthways
  • 2 cascabel chillies (see Note)
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp freshly minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 60 g pork lard (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp holy trinity chilli powder (see instructions) 



  • 2 x 600 g spatchcocks (poussins)
  • salt flakes 


Mole maximo

  • 12 truss tomatoes
  • 60 g pork lard (see Note)
  • 1½ tbsp freshly minced garlic (about 8 cloves)
  • 3 white onions, finely diced
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1½ tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1½ tbsp pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 3 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 7 guajillo chillies
  • 7 ancho chillies
  • 7 pasilla chillies
  • 2 cups sultanas
  • 2 litres chicken stock 


Puffed amaranth

  • 500 ml (2 cups) canola oil
  • 1 tbsp dried amaranth (see Note) 



  • 500 g masa lista (see Note)
  • 335 ml water
  • 22 g fine salt 



  • 1 bunch coriander, leaves picked

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Equipment: tortilla press (see Note), spice grinder

For the holy trinity oil, roast the chillies in a preheated 150ºC oven for 5 minutes. Blend to a fine powder.

Reserve 2 tbsp for the refried beans.

Combine the remaining chilli powder with the oil. Set aside 

For the refried beans, place the beans, halved onion, whole garlic cloves, epazote, jalapeños, cascabel chillies in a large saucepan, cover with water, bring to a simmer and simmer until just tender (about 45 minutes to 1½ hours). Add salt to taste. Drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt the lard in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and minced garlic and sauté until softened.

Add the chili powder and beans and season with salt to taste. 

For the spatchcock, preheat a barbecue or charcoal grill to high. Drizzle the poussin with the holy trinity chili oil (reserve some to garnish) and season with salt flakes.

Cook the spatchcock until just cooked through. Rest, covered with foil, for 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, carve into small pieces. 

For the mole maximo, preheat the oven to 200ºC. Place the tomatoes on an oven tray and roast, without oil, until blistered and charred. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin. Set aside.

Melt the lard in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and minced garlic and sauté until caramalised.

Reduce the oven to 150ºC. Roast the nuts, seeds and spices until well toasted (15-20 minutes).

Roast the chillies at 150ºC for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, nuts, seeds, spices, chillies, and sultanas to the onion mixture. Cover with the stock, bring to boil, stirring frequently, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Process in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan and simmer, adjusting the seasoning and consistency with salt and stock. Remove from the heat and keep warm. 

For the puffed amaranth, heat the oil to 200ºC (just below smoking). Add the amaranth and when puffed, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Cool. 

For the tortillas, combine the masa, water and salt in a bowl to make a soft but not sticky dough,  adjusting with more water or masa if necessary. Roll into 40 g balls. Cover with a clean damp cloth to stop the dough from drying out.

Line a tortilla press with thick plastic wrap. Press each dough ball, one at a time, in the press.

Heat a dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat and cook for 20 seconds each side until puffed and lightly golden. Cover cooked tortillas with a clean damp cloth. Makes about 20. 

To serve, ladle the mole onto a large serving platter. Scatter the refried beans on and around the mole. Place the carved chicken in the centre and drizzle over the reserved holy trinity oil. Garnish with the puffed amaranth and coriander and serve with tortillas on the side.


Chef's notes

• Masa lista flour, dried chillies and epazote are available from Latin grocers

• Amaranth is available from health food stores and select greengrocers.

• Pork lard is available from butchers and select delicatessens.

• Tortilla presses are available from Latin grocers. If you don't have one, you can use a rolling pin to roll the tortillas.


Tommy Payne is the head chef of el Público. This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.

This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.