Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chicken Mole

Mole, pronounced 'moh-lay', is elusive. The concept varies greatly from recipe to recipe. Some cooks pride themselves in the literal days of preparation for this deep, rich, and traditional sauce, but there are plenty of quicker versions for us normal people. I mean, really.

Traditionally, the dark color of the sauce comes from the charred remains of burned chiles and unsweetened chocolate. The complexity of the flavor comes from the variety of ingredients, sometimes 20 or more. There is a deep family history behind many mole recipes, each one different to one degree or another. The most common ingredients in the recipes I have found are chiles, spices, chocolate, nuts, and tomatoes. Catch your interest yet? Well, I promise this won't take you three days, and it's a tortilla-sopper-upper.

I remember first tasting my Little Grandma's mole when we were quite young. I was thrilled to hear we were having chocolate on our chicken that night! All I remember of the taste is being disappointed that it wasn't more like hershey's syrup. Crazy kids. If only I had known what a treasure it was eating such a dish from her hands. Luckily, Abel likes this version and ate up most of his helping before declaring it "a bit too spicy." I thought it was perfect.

Here were our mole results:

First night with rice…

Second night in enchilada form, even better…

We trucked the leftovers to Lora's and created these oh so yummy enchiladas together. And thanks to our dear friend Zaida for the cilantro and lime cabbage recipe!

Recipe adapted from J.M. Hirsch, Food Editor of The Associated Press

Chicken Mole

2 T canola or vegetable oil
1 chipotle chile in adobo (canned), chopped; taste for heat after simmering
½ tsp mexican chili powder
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 T cocoa powder
½ tsp each ground cinnamon and red pepper flakes
¼ tsp each ground cloves and ground black pepper
1 cup smooth almond butter
1.5 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
salt to taste
1 slice soft bread or tortilla cut into small pieces
1.5 lbs chicken (breast or thigh) cut into ½" chunks

In dutch oven type pot over medium-high heat:
Combine oil, chile, onion, garlic, cocoa, and spices. Saute for 5 min.
Add the almond butter and mix until it melts.
Add the tomatoes, broth, salt and bread; bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken and return to a simmer.
Cover the pot and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Chicken Mole Enchiladas

If using the entire pot of mole it would probably make close to 20 enchiladas. We rolled a small amount of the mole sauce with sauteed onion, grated parmesan cheese, sharp cheddar/Colby jack mixed into a flour tortilla. Line in edged baking tray and top with excess sauce and cheese. Bake at 350°F for 15–20 min, or until heated through.

Top with shredded cabbage and chopped cilantro, tossed together with fresh lime juice.



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