Vesuvio with Mole and Short Ribs

Sfoglini Vesuvio with Mole and Short Ribs

There are as many recipes for mole as there are cooks who make it. Mole negro is a traditional Mexican stew made with dried chiles, a multitude of spices, chocolate, and a varied assortment of other ingredients. No two versions are the same. It cooks for hours and is simultaneously fragrant, spicy, sweet, savory, and bitter. This version calls for short ribs to be braised in the mole, resulting in a meal that perfectly embodies comfort food.



  • 10 cups chicken stock or broth, divided, plus more if necessary

  • 4 each: dried pasilla, guajillo, and ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded (see Chef’s Note)
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 4 teaspoons neutral cooking oil, divided
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, whole
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 4-5 pounds bone-in short ribs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1-pound Sfoglini Vesuvio
  • Minced cilantro, crumbled Cotija cheese, and minced pickled onion (optional), to serve


    Bring 8 cups of chicken stock to simmer in a Dutch oven. Add the chiles and bread, remove from heat, and let steep for 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender (in batches, if necessary) and process until smooth. Set aside and return the Dutch oven to the stove over medium heat.

    Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pot and heat just until it’s shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the onion is softened and almost translucent. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent browning. Stir in the spices and cocoa powder and cook with the onions and garlic for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, continuing to stir, and cook until very dark red in color. Stir in the nut butter, raisins, the chipotle pepper, and remaining 2 cups of stock. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

    Transfer the mixture to a blender and process until smooth, then combine with the blended chile mixture and set aside. 

    Heat oven to 300° F

    Season the short ribs with salt and pepper on each side. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and add 2 teaspoons of oil. Once the oil begins to smoke, start browning the short ribs for a few minutes on each side. Do this in several batches, if needed, to avoid overcrowding the pan. 

    Bring the heat to medium low and add half of the blended chile mixture (around 4 cups) to the pot with the short ribs. This should be enough to nearly cover the ribs. If it’s not, stir in more chicken stock. Transfer to the oven and cook for 3-4 hours, depending on the size of the ribs, until they’re very tender and the bones slide easily out of the meat.

    Remove the short ribs from the Dutch oven and set aside to cool. The sauce should have been reduced substantially. Skim as much of the fat off the top of the mixture as possible, then add the remaining chile mixture to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Stir in the chocolate and turn off the heat. When the ribs are cool enough to handle, remove the bones and any connective tissue, shredding the remaining meat and returning it to the pot. Keep warm while cooking the pasta. 

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the Vesuvio according to the package directions, then drain and transfer to a serving dish. Top the Vesuvio with the short ribs and mole, then sprinkle with cilantro, cotija, and pickled onions.

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    Chef's Note: For the dried chiles: the varieties described in the ingredient list are available at nearly all Hispanic stores, as well as on Amazon and other online retailers. However, many supermarkets sell at least some types of dried chiles. The specific varieties are not all necessary for the recipe. Just one or two kinds will work as well, just with a slightly less complex flavor. Read up on spice levels and flavors if you are looking for a particular flavor profile.

    Regarding the spice level of this dish, most of the heat comes from the canned chipotle pepper. If a less spicy dish is desired, use half of a chipotle pepper or omit it entirely and just add a bit of the liquid from the can. If you’d like a higher level of spice, add another chipotle pepper. 

    This recipe calls for short ribs, but will also work very well with stew beef. Chicken thighs would also be delicious, with the cooking time and weight adjusted accordingly. Keep in mind that short ribs have a very high fat content, which contributes greatly to the final flavor and texture of the dish. Substitutions will work, but the end result will not be the same. 

    Pasta Swaps: This recipe would also work well with Semolina RigatoniSemolina Zucca, or Whole Grain Reginetti.

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