There’s nothing I like better than a big batch of mole, the famed Mexican sauce, spiked with chiles, spices, and a hint of dark, bitter chocolate.
Mole is excellent spooned over baked or poached chicken, and I’m especially fond of slathering it over a pot of crispy-cooked carnitas, too.
Recipes adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway Books) by David Lebovitz
Makes enough for smothering one chicken or a pork shoulder, previously cooked.
- 5 dried ancho dried chiles
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground cloves, dried oregano, powdered cumin, ground coriander, ground anise seeds
- 1/3 cup (55 g) sliced almonds
- 1-2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup (40 g) raisins or diced prunes
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup (250 ml) water (or more, as needed)
- 1 oz (30 g) unsweetened chocolate, melted
1. Remove the seeds and stems from the chiles and soak them in very hot water until soft, about 30 minutes or so. (Make sure they’re submerged by setting a lightweight bowl on top of the chiles.) When softened, puree the chiles in a blender. If the skins are tough, you may want to pass the puree though a food mill or strainer.
2. In a small skillet, sauté onion in vegetable oil until soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté another minute. Add spices and herbs and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, being careful not to let them burn.
3. Add to the chile puree in the blender, the almonds, the cooked onions and garlic, tomatoes, raisins or prunes, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, water, and melted chocolate, then puree until smooth.
4. Add additional water, if necessary, until the consistency is smooth and slightly pourable.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make Chicken with Mole Sauce:
1. Begin with one chicken cut into six or eight portions. Brown the poultry pieces quite well in a large casserole in vegetable oil. Once browned, remove the chicken pieces from the pan and saute one chopped onion in the casserole and cook until translucent. Deglaze the casserole with some wine or stock, and scrape in any browned bits from the bottom with a flat wooden spatula.
2. Add the chicken back to the casserole along with a cinnamon stick or two, and add enough chicken stock, water, or white wine to cover chicken pieces. Cover the casserole, and gently simmer chicken until tender throughout.
3. Once cooked, remove chicken pieces from the liquid and arrange them in a shallow baking dish. Smear chicken pieces generously with mole and bake in a moderate oven, turning once or twice during baking, for about 30 minutes.
Serve with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.