Chicken Mole Ole!
I’ve been thinking about making homemade Mole for some time now, since I’m a huge fan of Mexican food (who isn’t?), and especially love the more traditional and authentic recipes. I’m so impressed with the amount of interesting ingredients that can be combined to create a flavor so hard to describe, but so complex and delicious. I suppose Mole could best be described as rich and earthy- due to the dried peppers and chocolate. Yes, peppers and chocolate!
The history of traditional Mole (actually, just translating to “sauce”) is quite complex, and pertains to a few different types, so if you’re so inclined you can read up on the wiki page. The recipe I used is from Bon Appétit, however I made a few substitutions based on ingredients that were more readily available to me (noted in the recipe below). The end result was delicious, rich and earthy as expected! One thing I would change for next time is to use ground coriander instead of the seeds, as my immersion blender didn’t process these that well, and every few bites I’d get a chewy piece of seed or shell. To substitute ground spices for seeds – as I did for the cumin – use half the amount.
I served my Mole on corn tortillas with fresh avocado and cilantro, making this dish pretty healthy compared to what most think of when they think of Mexican food.
- 3 tablespoons (or more) peanut oil (preferably unrefined), divided
- 5 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs (I used thighs with the bone in, but removed the skin. This worked well, as the meat pretty much fell off the bone during the shredding step)
- 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced (about 2 jumbo onions)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 6 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 4 teaspoons cumin seeds (substituted 2 teaspoons ground cumin)
- 4 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 4 ounces dried pasilla chiles, and 1 ounce dried negro chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed (I used 2.5 oz pasilla and 2.5 oz ancho chiles)
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 4 3 x 1/2-inch strips orange peel (orange part only)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 3.1-ounce disk Mexican chocolate, (or 3 oz dark chocolate plus 3/4 tsp cinnamon)
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Warm flour tortillas
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken to pot; sauté until lightly browned, adding more oil by tablespoonfuls as needed, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to large bowl.
Return chicken and any juices to pot. Add broth and orange juice; bring just to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until chicken is tender and just cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 18 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add almonds, garlic, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon (if not using Mexican chocolate). Sauté until nuts and garlic begin to color, about 2 minutes. Add chiles and stir until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Pour chicken cooking liquid into saucepan with onion mixture (reserve pot). Add raisins, orange peel, and oregano to saucepan. Cover and simmer until chiles are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand until chocolate melts and sauce mixture cools slightly, about 15 minutes.
Working in small batches, transfer sauce mixture to blender and puree until smooth; return to reserved pot. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Coarsely shred chicken and return to sauce; stir to coat. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over low heat before serving.
Serve with tortillas topped with cilantro and avocado. And of course, a margarita!