Friday, March 4, 2016

Chicken with Molé

When people think of molé, they usually think of chocolate. Yes, the sauce does have chocolate in it, but it's a very small amount and added at the end to give the sauce it's color and richness.

I've always been a huge fan of it myself. I remember the first time I had it in Cancun, Mexico, some 25 years ago. It's rich, smokey flavor sold me on the spot. This is a labor intensive recipe, but so worth the reward. It's a definite crowd pleaser.

Chicken with Molé
by Holly Kyman

Chicken and stock:
1 (6-7 pound) whole chicken, neck and gizzards removed
2 ribs celery with leaves, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 package of fresh poultry herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme)
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
12 cups water

Fruit/vegetable base base:
1 16-ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tablespoons chili powder blend* (see note below ingredients)

Pepper base:
1 dried pasilla pepper, stemmed and seeded
2 dried ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded
1 cup hot water

Plantain base:
1 ripe plantain, diced
2 Tablespoons lard or canola oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

Seeds, nuts and chocolate blend:
1/2 cup shelled peanuts
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup General Mills Chocolate Cheerios
1/4 cup Mexican chocolate, chopped (Ibarra preferred)
Flour tortillas
Sour cream
Sliced avocado
Shredded cheddar cheese
Pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

*Chili powder: I like The Spice Hunter's Salt-Free Chili Powder, which is a blend of chile pepper, onion, garlic, cocoa powder, oregano, red pepper, cumin, cinnamon and cloves. It has a very nice sweet and smoky flavor.

In a large stock pot, add the chicken, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, allspice, peppercorns, bay leaf, salt, and package of poultry herbs. Cover with 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until chicken is done.

Meanwhile, in a glass bowl, add the stemmed and seeded dried peppers. Cover with 1 cup very hot water. Let steep and soften 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Strain and reserve liquid and set aside.

Back to the broth and chicken, strain the liquid into a large pot using a colander or cheese cloth, cover and keep warm. Discard the vegetables and herbs. Place the chicken onto a cutting board and let cool. Remove skin and shred the chicken. Keep the meat warm in a slow cooker set on 'warm'. Ladle in a cup of the stock to keep moist. Add more stock if meat seems to get dry.

In a large non-stick pan, add the fire roasted tomatoes, raisins and chili powder blend. Cook on low, stirring often as to not burn.

In a small sauté pan, add the plantains, lard or oil, cinnamon and brown sugar. Cook on medium-low heat until they soften. Add the plantain mixture to the tomato/raisin base. Ladle in a cup or two of the chicken broth. Stir well. It may look lumpy and that's ok.

In a food processor, add the reconstituted dried peppers. Add a little of the pepper liquid if it seems too thick or doesn't 'move'. Add the blended peppers to the tomato/raisin/plantain base. Stir well. Add another cup or two of the chicken broth. Remember: Keep low and slow and keep stirring. Pull up a seat and don't leave this sauce alone.

In a food processor, add the peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and cheerios. Pulse until finely ground. Add to the tomato/raisin/plantain base. Add more stock and you guessed it: Keep stirring.

Finally, add the Mexican chocolate. Stir well. The sauce may seem really thick and lumpy. Add more stock. Stir constantly for another 30-40 minutes.

Remove sauce from heat, in batches (should take about 3-4) ladle sauce into blender and add a cup of the chicken stock. Blend on low until nicely emulsified. Return blended sauce to a large pot. After all is processed, return to heat and continue to stir often, adding a cup or so of the chicken stock for another hour. (You may have some stock leftover. Save for another use.)

To serve: On a tortilla, add about 1/2 cup of the shredded chicken, wrap tortilla. Top with a drizzle of the molé (a little goes along way), a dollop of sour cream, a few avocado slices and a touch of shredded cheese. Garnish with the pumpkin and sesame seeds. Also, good served with a side of Spanish rice. Enjoy!

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