I love to cook and I love to eat good food.  Alas, the fact that I work 9-5 means that I can't do either as much as I would like, and like many I am often stuck at my desk during my lunch "hour".  My solution is to try to bring my lunch to work as much as I can.  This is my collection of recipes, all made quickly the night before (either as lunch or as dinner with leftovers that can be taken in).  Happy eating.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Holy Mole!

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.

(Mole, pre-blending)

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.


Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Holy mole...gorgeous! Never heard of chocolate & chicken; love how adventurous you are. Thank you for stopping by. It's wonderful to hear from you, always!!

Kevin said...

That chicken mole looks so good. Mole sauce goes great with a lot of things.

Lele said...

Mmmmm mole. I feel like the first time someone has mole is such an awakening, because you realize you never knew what chocolate is capable of.

Velva said...

Very nice blog post! I smiled. The chicken looks great.
I can't say that I have ever enjoyed an authentic mole sauce. I know that it is a complex and time consuming sauce to make. The Mexicans take a lot of pride in their mole sauce and each family prepares one just a little different.

A thirty minute sauce is perfect for me.

Palidor said...

Authentic or not, it looks absolutely delicious! I've never tried mole, but would love to taste your dish!

girlichef said...

Delicious! Mole is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world!!!! I have yet to blog it...but you've ignited the spark!! I usually make it in cooler weather anyway...hello fall :D

Sweet and Savory said...

This is extraordinary. I have heard of it but never tasted it nor made it. I give you lots of credit.

Leslie said...

Looks delish and done in 30 minutes, thats a plus!
Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Kelly said...

Authentic or not I love a good mole. I've tried two different variations so far and always mean to try more as our local Mexican restaurant offers many varieties. Looks so delicious. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Grace said...

mole combines two of my favorite things—mexican flavors and chocolate. any excuse to incorporate chocolate into the main dish is okay by me—i’m undeniably a chocolate addict!

Faith said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leading me to yours! This is such a fantastic BSI entry...I've got to try mole!

teresa said...

oh wow, i have never tried anything like that, it looks wonderful!

doggybloggy said...

arriba arriba!

The Little Teochew said...

Very versatile! And made beautifully. I see you REALLY love eggplant (from your profile pic)! Thanks for dropping by my blog :)

Kim (@ Paper Apron) said...

Oh, I'm so excited to see this!! Making a mole is on my want-to-do list for the year and this one actually looks doable compared to most. Plus, I've never tasted one, so this will be fun.

Joanne said...

I adore mole. It is probably my favorite mexican dish. There are just so many good spices in it. The perfect pick for this BSI!

Sarah, The New Girl said...

I have NEVER heard of this dish but I love Mexican food and all of the different traditional Mexican spices... so excited to try this!! Looks really, really great!!

lisaiscooking said...

Sounds delicious! I love mole with chicken.

Anonymous said...

oh cool, mole that doesn't have like 5000 ingredients! Love! Chicken and chocolate and spices make a great marriage!

Astra Libris said...

Oooh, your mole looks incredible! Personally, I love that your recipe takes 30 minutes instead of hours and hours! :-)

Leela said...

Have to admit: I've never made mole. The list of ingredients is so daunting! (whine, whine, whine ...) But I also know there are great rewards to be reaped. Must make mole.

EMC said...

That looks like heaven! I made mole a few years ago and accidentally dumped in twice the amount of chocolate powder than was called for, and I ended up having to throw it out. Maybe I'll try it again--thanks for the inspiration!

Velva said...

Hope that you are going to post soon! I am missing your blog posts:-)

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