Mole Ribs

April 18, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Makes 3 slabs
Author Notes

Moles are amazingly rich and complicated Mexican sauces. However, not being Mexican myself, I wanted to try and harness the spirit of a mole, and apply it to something near and dear to my very American heart... ribs. Making good ribs requires patience, and these are no exception. However, the blend of java stout, chilies, chocolate, coffee, and peanut butter make for an amazingly rich and interesting BBQ experience, unlike any I've had before.

Note that the ribs should be rubbed the night before, which is also a good time to make the sauce and refrigerate it overnight. —BigDaveSpoon

What You'll Need
  • Ribs/Rub
  • 3 slabs baby back ribs (pork ribs, not the small rodent that digs holes)
  • 8 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coffee beans
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • Mole BBQ sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 12 ounces beer (I used java stout, but any heavy stout would be fine)
  • 2 ounces ancho chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1 ounce New Mexico chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 shot espresso
  • 2 tablespoons coffee beans, very finely ground
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar (for braising ribs, step 8)
  • 1/4 cup water (for braising ribs, step 8)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted (for use at the very end)
  1. Combine all ingredients for the rub in a spice blender and blend until finely ground. Liberally apply rub to ribs and rub to coat. Cover and put in the fridge.
  2. Now to make the mole BBQ sauce! First, heat pot and melt the butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook until caramelized. (If you add a little water, you can cook these at relatively high heat, and caramelize more quickly)
  3. Adjust heat to medium. Add the beer and cider vinegar to the onion mixture to deglaze the pot. Mix well.
  4. Once all the goodness has been lifted from the bottom of the pot, add the ketchup, chilies, espresso, salt, cayenne pepper, coffee and cinnamon. Stir until combined.
  5. Add the unsweetened chocolate and stir until melted. Then add peanut butter and muscavado sugar and stir until combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes. (At this point, you just want the flavors to meld, but you don’t want to reduce too much... it should already be pretty thick)
  6. Pour sauce into a blender and liquefy until smooth. Sauce can now be stored in the fridge until you need it.
  7. THIS STEP OCCURS THE NEXT MORNING! Remove ribs from the fridge, and preheat smoker (or oven if you don’t have one) to 250 degrees. Place ribs uncovered in oven/smoker and allow to cook for 2 hours.
  8. Remove ribs, and place in oven safe pan. Add the cider vinegar and water to the pan, and cover tightly with foil. Place into 250 degree oven (you could put your pan in your smoker, but that makes for an unnecessary mess) for another 90 minutes.
  9. Remove ribs from pan, and baste with sauce. Place back into smoker uncovered (or oven at 250), and continue to turn and baste (every 5 minutes) for 30-60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes. Lightly sprinkle finished slabs with sesame seeds and slice into individual ribs. Ribs can be enjoyed as is, or with some additional heated sauce on the side. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sam Rod
    Sam Rod
  • Jazzcat
  • fiveandspice
  • Burnt Offerings
    Burnt Offerings
  • Sagegreen

10 Reviews

Sam R. October 30, 2014
Could the ribs be just as easily boiled first in the apple vinegar water then cooked in the oven/smoker?
Jazzcat May 6, 2012 be clear, the last hour on the smoker, the ribs are NOT in the pan?
Thank you.
BigDaveSpoon August 4, 2014
Nope, they are not in the pan. This is the time when they form a nice "bark" on the outside.
TheGourmetExperiment April 19, 2011
That looks amazing! Mole + pork + smoker = my kind of meal!

I am curious though, why on step 8 do you add cider vinegar and water to a pan and steam/boil the ribs? That seems counterintuitive. Wouldn't the rub just fall off in the water? I'm sure that step tenderizes the meat, but so does cooking it longer. If anything, I would suspend the meat above the liquid. Just a thought.

Oh, and I like the addition of the sesame seeds, nice touch!
BigDaveSpoon April 19, 2011
Maybe I should have been more clear on that step. This is basically an adaptation of the 3:2:1 method of cooking ribs. That is, three hours in the smoker naked, then spray each slab with liquid (I like cider vinegar, water, and brown sugar), wrap with foil, and put back on smoker for two hours. Then, you remove the ribs from the foil, and baste on the smoker for an hour.

Instead of wrapping each slab in foil, I will put a very small amount of liquid in a large metal pan, put all the slabs in bones down (so that the bones, and very little of the meat, is in the liquid), cover with foil and cook in the oven for roughly two hours. This is essentially doing the same thing, and helps the ribs achieve the perfect texture, while saving the hassle of wrapping each slab individually.

The rub/bark is retained perfectly, and regains its texture in the last hour of cooking. Also, for those last three hours you aren't getting any smoke, so the oven works just about as well.

Hope this helps, and let me know if you have any more questions!
duclosbe1 April 19, 2011
I'm glad someone asked about the ribs in the vinegar/water step because that had me wondering, too. Thanks for the detailed answer!
fiveandspice April 19, 2011
Yum! I was just thinking last night about coming up with a recipe for a mole using ground coffee, and now my motivation to experiment is totally gone because this looks so good!!!
Burnt O. April 19, 2011
Oh man - this sounds incredible. Love the flavor profiles in the BBQ sauce. Are the chiles fresh or dried?
BigDaveSpoon April 19, 2011
I used dried chilies. I love the sweetness from the dried chilies, and I feel like the heat is more tempered. Of course we add it back with cayenne, but you can control it better.
Sagegreen April 19, 2011
What a photo. This will prevent me from becoming vegetarian.