Monday, January 7, 2013

Sunday Dinners: Chicken "Mole" (MO-lay) and more!

Last night was a special Sunday dinner: it was my husband's birthday dinner, and my son's last dinner at home before returning for his spring semester at college. So, in an effort to please all palates, I created the following menu:

Chimichurri Marinated-Grilled Skirt Steak (one of Seth's favorites!)
Chicken with Mole Sauce (new for several!)
Gallo Pinto-- (one of Wes's favorites!) 
Leafy Green Seasonal Salad (stay tuned for Wednesday's post!)
Mocha Cake and Icing

The result? Well, I got lots of great feedback! Here I'm sharing my recipe for's a "different" kind of sauce for many non-Mexicans (or many who live outside the mole-frequent zones!). 
I think of mole sauce (pronounced MOL-ay!) as kind of a cousin of chimichurri and pesto: it’s part condiment/part sauce, and it’s  made differently in different areas of Mexico (though primarily in Oaxaca and Puebla). I first tried it when I was just 16 (okay, not that long ago...she lied!!!), but it wasn't love at first bite. Actually I think that when I started working in a Mexican restaurant (Pancho Villa's--when I was 18!), I started to really enjoy it. 
My favorite moles have three of the ingredients here: chiles, almonds, and chocolate. This sauce has a lot of room for flexibility; you can make it much spicier, and or sweeter, depending on your taste. THIS one is a bit spicier (I lightened up on the chiles because it was for my parents and father-in-law who, I have to say, all liked it, and wouldn’t have with too much kick!). You can also use dry pasillas, rehydrate them, and remove the stems/seeds before puréeing.

As far as serving, you could combine it with grilled veggies, of course. But I generally use it as a pre-baking “bath” for my chicken—as I did last night—and also for blanketing my roasting chicken.  So, since I was cooking for just 9 last night (and also made skirt steak and gallo pinto!), I used to it cook about 16 boneless chicken thighs (yes—lunch and/or dinner today, too!). When you do use it to roast chicken, add some toasted almonds on top—as well as some cilantro for garnish!

AH—and, local residents, you have yet another option! I’ve found really nice pre-made sauces in Port Chester (but made in Yonkers!). One is calle “El Autentico Mole Poblano, Tuzantlan (290 Main Street, Yonkers, NY 10701-914 316 9572).  All you need to add is some chicken broth (and maybe more chocolate, sugar, and salt), and you’re set!

Chicken Mole (MO -lay)
Makes about 4 cups

8 fresh pasilla or poblano peppers (or to taste)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped red onions
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted blanched/slivered almonds  
4  cups  chicken broth
3  ounces dark chocolate, chopped  
Salt and sugar to taste
Flat leaf parsley for garnish

Roast the peppers over a flame or in a dry skillet, turning with tongs as needed, until charred all over. Put roasted peppers in a plastic bag and let sit until skin rubs off easily; remove skin. Cut a slit in 1 side of each pepper to create a pocket; pull out ribs and seeds. Set peppers aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over med.
low heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin and cinnamon. Cover and cook until onion is almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add the raisins, almonds and chiles. Add the chicken broth gradually. Add the chocolate.

Transfer to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the flavors are well blended.  Whisk in the chocolate. Seasons with salt and sugar as desired. 

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