This week's BSI challenge comes from London Foodie in New York, who chose chocolate (what? no one had picked chocolate yet?!). I love chocolate in all forms -- cakes, cookies, bars, beverages -- but today, for once in my life, my sweet tooth was not clamoring for a treat. Plus, I figured there would be cakes and sweets aplenty. Therefore, I thought I'd sneak chocolate into something a little different: a chicken with mole.
Now, before people scream that this is not a traditional recipe, I know that it's not. I know this because a) it only took me 30 minutes to make instead of 3 hours; b) it only called for two types of peppers; and c) I was making it, which means it was automatically inauthentic. But what it is, is rich, complex, smooth and muy rico.
For the uninitiated, mole -- which means sauce -- is a type of thick sauce (contrast guacamole with pico de gallo) from Mexico, and comes in a variety of combinations. These are differentiated by the types of peppers used, the nuts, spices, absence or presence of tomatoes or tomatillos, and too many other ingredients to discuss. They are unified by the fact that a true mole should have many ingredients and take hours to prepare. For the initiated, you know it's definitely worth the effort.
(A sample of the ingredients; they just looked so pretty)
I based my recipe on this one from Epicurious. It's probably closest to a mole poblano, but again I tempt fate by naming it as such when it's a streamlined version. I only made a few modifications. For example, I couldn't get my hands on the right peppers. But I figured I had several different kinds on hand: some fresh from the pot on my windowsill, some dried, and some chipotle flakes. Good enough for me. Also: I slightly decreased the amount of peppers used for my wee bit more sensitive taste buds. I didn't have Mexican chocolate, so I used a tablespoon of cinnamon which I added with the other spices. Finally, instead of simmering my chicken before shredding it, I browned my chicken thighs before baking them in the mole in the oven. I served them with black beans and rice, and I (almost) didn't miss having chocolate in my dessert.
Roast chicken thighs with mole
4-6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs depending on size
3 C. low-salt chicken broth
2 C. orange juice
1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced
1/2 C. sliced almonds
6 large garlic cloves, sliced
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
4 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 ounces dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
1 ounce dried negro chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
1/4 C. raisins
4 3 x 1/2-inch strips orange peel (orange part only)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 3.1-ounce disk Mexican chocolate, chopped
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 18 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add almonds, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Sauté until nuts and garlic begin to color, about 2 minutes. Add chiles and stir until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Pour chicken stock and orange juice into saucepan with onion mixture. Add raisins, orange peel, and oregano to saucepan. Cover and simmer until chiles are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand until chocolate melts and sauce mixture cools slightly, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown chicken in a pan, skin side down. Transfer to a baking dish just large enough to hold the thighs, and arrange in one layer, skin side up.
Working in small batches, transfer sauce mixture to blender and puree until smooth. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon enough sauce into baking dish so that the chicken is sitting in the sauce, but the skin is still exposed. Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
Serves 2, with a lot of leftover mole, which will keep in the freezer and is also excellent on other meats and fish or with enchiladas.