Mole de Espinazo

Mole de Espinazo

Tonight is the biggest party of the year in Mexico, because tomorrow is Independence Day.  To celebrate, I can't think of a better recipe to share than...Mole de Espinazo

Most moles are made with chicken or turkey.  But this mole is made with a special cut of meat...Pork Spine.   

Espinazo de Puerco/Pork Spine
Espinazo de Puerco/Pork Spine
Some might consider pork spine to be an exotic cut of meat, but I assure you that it is not.  Espinazo is very similar to ribs cut crosswise instead of lengthwise.  For those of you not in Mexico and unable to find espinazo at your favorite supermarket, you can also use country style pork ribs.

Traditionally, sliced potatoes and nopales (cactus paddles) are added to Mole de Espinazo.  But when we lived in the U.S., fresh nopales weren't always available and Hubby and I really didn't care for the canned/jarred variety.  So, I substituted fresh green beans for the nopales.  Now that we live in Mexico, where fresh nopales are delivered to my door daily, I still prefer to make this mole with green beans.  And when available, I also like to add fresh baby spinach.

Unfortunately, both the green beans and baby spinach were unavailable when I made this for lunch the other day.  But I still included them in the recipe.  Just know that this is a delicious meal with or without the green beans and baby spinach.  

Mole ingredients
Mole ingredients

Mole de Espinazo

  • 2 lbs. Pork Espinazo 
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Cilantro
  • 4 dried ancho chilies 
  • 3 corn tortillas, cut in wedges
  • 1 large roma tomato, cut in quarters
  • 3 tomatillos, husked and cut in halves
  • !/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup green beans, cooked (optional) 
  • 1 bunch baby spinach, rinsed and patted dry (optional)

Place the espinazo in a large stockpot with a couple of sprigs of cilantro, one clove of garlic and half of the medium onion.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Bring to boil over high heat and let cook for 15 minutes.  Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Let simmer for 60 to 90 minutes or until the espinazo is tender.  (When using fresh green beans, I like to add them to the meat during the last 20 minutes.)

Cooking Espinazo de Puerco

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add the chilies to the skillet and let fry for a couple of minutes on each side.  (You don't want to brown the chilies, you just want them to plump up a little.)

Fried Ancho Chilies

Transfer the fried chilies to a heatproof bowl; set aside.

Mole de Espinazo Prep 1

Continue frying the rest of the mole ingredients - the tortillas, tomatoes, tomatillos, the remaining onion and garlic - in batches, adding more vegetable oil, if necessary.  Transfer to the heatproof bowl with the fried ancho chilies.  (You want to fry the tortillas, just until they start to get crisp.  And the tomatoes, tomatillos and onion just until they start to brown. Sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds.)

Mole Prep Collage

Cover the mole ingredients with 3 cups of the broth that the espinazo was cooked in.  Let soak for about 15 minutes or until the chilies are soft and tender.

Mole Prep 2

Once the mole ingredients have had a chance to soak, slice the potatoes and set aside.

Sliced Potato

Remove the stems from the chilies.  Puree the mole ingredients and broth in a blender.  (Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in batches.) 

Mole Prep 3

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil over medium-low heat.  Strain the mole puree into the skillet.  Pour about 2 cups of broth, 1/2 cup at a time, into the mole sauce until desired consistency.  (Not too thin or too thick.)  Season with salt, ground cumin and black pepper.

Mole Prep 4

Add the sliced potatoes to the mole sauce.  Reduce heat to low, cover skillet and let simmer about 5 minutes. 

Mole Prep 5

Add the espinazo to the skillet.  Cover and let simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes for the potatoes to finish cooking and for the flavors to develop.  (If adding green beans and baby spinach to the mole, add them with the meat.) 

Mole Prep 6

Serve with Mexican Rice and/or Refried Beans and plenty of warm corn tortillas.  Enjoy!!!

Mole de Espinazo 2


  1. OMG leslie this look amazing!! I have never had nopales in my mole, yum!!

  2. mmmmmm! Que rico se ve!