Chocolate: Easy Chicken Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano_ForkFingersChopsticks.com

Hooray for mole (pronounced MOH- lay)!

If you’ve never feasted on mole poblano, you must. It is so beloved it is considered the national dish of Mexico. Mole poblano is a dark, rich, thick, sauce served over chicken or turkey – it’s both bitter and spicy from toasted, ground chiles and also smoothly sumptuous from ground nuts, sesame seeds, spices and bitter chocolate. Yes, chocolate!

Traditionally, when made from scratch, making mole poblano is a labor intensive affair that includes a long, long list of ingredients and a lot of toasting, grinding and frying. For this reason, from-scratch mole is typically reserved for special occasions such as weddings and religious holidays. We, however, have the modern convenience of Dona Maria’s mole paste. So, you can make this dish on a whim.

But, first, feed your mind . . . The word “mole,” in its most general sense refers to a sauce and it’s not always thick or dark; it can be also be green, red, yellow and black. In Mexico, the states best known for moles are typically Puebla and Oaxaca. Fortunately, I’ve eaten mole in both states. Oaxaca, the Land of the Seven Moles, was my favorite.

Mole poblano hails from the mountainous region of Puebla, Mexico and its exact origin is uncertain. The ingredients and cooking techniques used to make this dish are linked to both the Old and New World. While chiles, tomatoes, peanuts and chocolate are native to Mexico’s pre-Spanish cookery (read about the origin of chocolate); the Spanish introduced several Asian spices they obtained from spice-route commerce including sesame seeds, cumin, cinnamon, anise and black pepper.

Regardless, the somewhat unusual blend of chiles, spices and chocolate, makes for a luxurious savory sauce for a special occasion or not. Note:  this dish freezes well and leftover sauce can be used to make enchiladas, as a filling for tamales, over rice and beans, or whatever tickles your tastebuds. Let me know if you have another way you modify mole paste or how you use leftover mole sauce.

Tidbits on Chocolate:

  1. Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac, a quality that made for some controversy among Catholics who consumed it during Lent.
  2. Scientific research is uncertain as to chocolate’s aphrodisiatic properties. However, chocolate has become an essential ingredient in the act of seduction.

Mole Poblano Paste_ForkFingersChopsticks

Chicken Mole_ForkFingersChopsticks

Easy Chicken Mole Pablano

Serves 6 to 8

Although the mole paste instructions say just add stock, don’t. For a fuller-flavored mole, we’re tweaking it just a little and it will have huge results in the flavor.

I’m not big on chopping up a chicken, so I used 2 breasts and 4 chicken thighs. Next time I’d add a couple more pieces, since I had about two cups of sauce leftover. Shred the chicken after it boils or use whole pieces. In Mexico, it is frequently served whole, on the bone. However, it’s easier and less messy to eat it shredded. Note: if you boil your chicken in advance and refrigerate, you can easily remove excess fat that separates from the stock.

Although chocolate is an essential ingredient to traditional mole poblano, it is generally not overly sweet. Adjust the amount of chocolate to your liking. I use a full 3 oz Mexican Ibarra chocolate.

Ingredients

1 whole cut up fryer chicken or its equivalent, skin on

6 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 jar (8.1 oz) Dona Maria’s mole paste

4 cups chicken broth (from boiling chicken)

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (natural without sweeteners/oil)

1/3 cup tomato sauce

1/2 to 1 disk (3 oz) Mexican chocolate (Ibarra), rough chopped small

Toasted sesame seeds, garnish

Method:

  1. In a large pot, cover chicken (skin on) with water, add salt and bring to boil. Lower heat and continue to cook until chicken pieces are cooked (about 25 minutes); chicken breasts may cook sooner and can be removed and set aside while remaining pieces cook. Reserve chicken stock. Leave whole pieces or remove skin and shred chicken with two forks; set aside and keep warm. Chicken can be cooked a day in advance. Reheat 4 cups chicken stock.
  2. Remove the paste and oil from the jar into a separate bowl; mix well. Add two cups chicken stock to bowl; use a wooden spoon to dissolve paste, pushing it against the sides of bowl. Set aside. In a separate small bowl, dissolve peanut butter in 1 cup of chicken stock. Set aside.
  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat, add mole paste and remaining 1 cup chicken broth; mix well until paste is fully dissolved. Add peanut butter paste and tomato sauce. Stir to prevent sticking, until the mixture is a smooth, thick, gravy consistency. Lower heat to medium. Add 1/2 of the chopped chocolate. Stir until dissolved; taste and add more chocolate to taste. Note: mole  should be slightly bitter and have a bite from the chiles, not sweet like chocolate syrup. Add chicken (whole or shredded) to mole sauce. Heat throughout, constantly stir to avoid burning.
  4. Serve hot, garnished with toasted sesame seeds plated with rice and beans. Freezes well.

Variations

Meat: in a pinch, use a roasted chicken instead of cooking your own; if you do, make sure to remove the seasoned skin. Substitute with turkey or other fowl.

Additional Ingredients:  chipotles or other chiles, toasted sesame seeds, garlic

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2 Responses to Chocolate: Easy Chicken Mole Poblano

  1. Ricky says:

    I bet it’s tasty, but i’m having a hard time getting over the look of it.

    Also, i emailed this to my co-worker. He said it looked good enough to eat for lunch today. Can you email it to us so we can do a taste test !!!! LOL.

  2. Ken says:

    Nice blog, congrats!
    I would like to share what I did with this wonderful recipe: Simmered the chicken pieces with a piece of onion, garlic, celery and salt the night before to save time.
    This morning I heat up 2 Tb of oil in a small skillet, toasted 2 slices of baguette [or mexican bolillo] on both sides, transfered to a shallow dish, added 1/4 C of milk and set aside. In same skillet fried up 8 plantain slices, once golden brown, placed in the blender then added:
    3 C of warm/strained stock, 2″ of cinnamon bark, 3 Tb peanut butter, Mole and 3 Tb of sesame seeds, processed for a minute to a smooth sauce; transferred to a non stick saucepan, added 1 Tablet of Ibarra chocolate and simmered over low heat to melt the chocolate. KEPT eye on it as this stuff loves to stick and burn, you MUST stir frequently. Added 1 C of stock to the dirty blender, squeezed out most of the milk in the bread, added to the blender and processed until smooth, poured into the simmering mole and continued stirring. Added the chicken pieces to heat up through, served with rice and flour totillas. The hardest part of the recipe was opening the silly jar.
    Re: visuals, it’s a chocolate sauce hence the color lol. There are green, black, white versions of it…..ALL good!

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