A Very Unusual Mole Comes to This Weekend's Mole Festival

mole de cadera
mole de cadera
Barbara Hansen

No matter how savvy you are about mole, here's one you probably haven't heard of. It's mole de caderas, a goat mole from Tehuacán, Puebla. If you want to taste it, go to La Feria de Los Moles this Sunday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at La Placita Olvera.

You can even take some home, that is, if you line up early at the VIP area, where a very limited quantity will be available for purchase from 1 to 3 p.m. But then you'll miss hearing chef José José (Pepe) Cepeda González (and yes, his name includes two Josés) of the restaurant Los Maragatos in Tehuacán tell how mole de caderas is made and the pre-Hispanic rituals linked to it, because he's speaking at the same time, 1 p.m.

chef José José (Pepe) Cepeda González, with moleEXPAND
chef José José (Pepe) Cepeda González, with mole
Barbara Hansen

Although typical of the state of Puebla, mole de caderas has nothing in common with sweet, chocolate-laced mole poblano. The slightly gamy orange broth results from cooking goat bones first with onion and garlic and then with tomatoes, chiles and wild plants of the area for as long as eight hours to extract the most flavor.

The water has to be the famous Tehuacán water from melting snows on Mount Orizaba, Mexico's highest peak. The salt has to come from a regional salt field. The goats are fed for a year on cactus and salt to give a special flavor to the meat, but only the bones are used — the hip bones (caderas), leg bones and spine.

This mole is also made in other parts of the Mexican Mixteca, a region that includes portions of the states of Puebla, Oaxaca and Guerrero. In Oaxaca, famed as the land of the seven moles, it is sometimes called the eighth mole.

A seasonal dish, mole de caderas is served for about a month, starting toward the end of October, and is so local that the flavor would be lost if prepared away from the region. Nevertheless, Cepeda, 23, is reproducing it here with ingredients he has brought from Mexico.

The chef will give out the recipe, but making it is fruitless unless you can get cuicateco chiles, hip bones from goats raised on cactus, wild green beans, fragrant avocado leaves, guaje seeds, Tehuacán water and salt from Zapotitlán Salinas.

The rest is easy — red and green tomatoes, cilantro and dried chiles that are available here. The accompaniments are easy too. The proper drink is mezcal, Cepeda said, and the traditional dessert is dulce de calabaza — pumpkin cooked with Mexican brown sugar, cinnamon and anise.

Read more from Barbara Hansen at TableConversation.com, EatMx.com, @foodandwinegal and Facebook. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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Olvera Street

845 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2901



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