Mexican Chicken Mole is hardly the most photogenic of dishes! In fact it's hard to get away from the fact that this amazing sauce looks like brown sludge. But foodies, don't be put off - this authentic Mexican sauce tastes heavenly and is pure comfort food.
A good mole has layers of contrasting, rich sweet and savoury flavours in the sauce. Pasilla and Ancho chillies combine to give a lovely roasted fruitiness with mild chilli heat, whilst the cocoa and spices lend themselves perfectly to this unctuous, velvety sauce. There's good reason why 125 million Mexican's go nuts for it and they've made it their national dish.
There are lots of different types of mole dishes in Mexico and it's well worth exploring the different versions. In this recipe, I've used our Doña Maria Brown Mole paste as the base for the sauce, it's Mexico's favourite brand and tastes fantastic. This is not a hot sauce, so if you like things on the hot side, you can add a chipotle or two into the tomato mixture.
I regularly extol the virtues of poaching chicken. It's slightly gone out of fashion here in the UK but as long as you don't let the water boil, you end up with beautifully tender and succulent chicken plus the bonus of some lovely stock to use. It's perfect for this recipe as you need the residual chicken stock to mix with the mole paste to create the sauce.
Rice is the perfect partner to a good mole, plain cooked white rice is fine, I've switched things up a little and made a 'Green Rice' with poblano peppers. I've also made a simple pickled red cabbage to go on the side, the sharp crunchy flavour and texture worked brilliantly with the rich mole flavours (plus it made the dish look really photogenic!)
Ingredients for Chicken Mole
For the Chicken Mole
1 whole chicken, jointed as in the instructions below
Some stock vegetables such as celery, onions, carrots, bay leaves
115g Doña Maria Brown Mole Paste (about half the jar)
2 large fresh tomatoes
½ white onion
1 clove of garlic
A few springs of fresh coriander
For the Mexican Green Rice
1 x can sliced poblano peppers
200g Basmati rice
½ white onion, peeled and chopped
1 x clove garlic, peeled and chopped
450ml chicken stock
4tbsps chopped fresh coriander
2tbsps rapeseed oil
For the Pickled Red Cabbage
400g red cabbage, finely sliced
300ml white wine vinegar
100g caster sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 arbol chilli, finely chopped
1 fresh bay leaf
Instructions for Chicken Mole
1. Pre-heat your oven to 240°C
2. Remove the wings from the chicken plus the legs and thighs. Remove the back bone part, so you are left with a crown of chicken (i.e. the breasts still on the bone). Season each of the chicken pieces then place them all into a large pot, add the stock vegetables and cover everything with water. Bring up to a very gentle simmer and poach for 45 minutes to an hour. It's important not to let the water boil, if you have a temperature probe, the water should sit at around 80°C, but don't stress it too much!
3. Dry roast the tomatoes and onion in the hot oven for around 20 minutes, you want them to blister and char. Throw in the garlic clove for the last 5 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and using a blender, whizz them up into a smooth pulp.
5. In a pan, gently warm up the mole paste and then start adding in a few ladles of the liquid from the poaching chicken pot. The paste is quite solid but as it warms up it will soften and with a little stirring, you will start creating a sauce.
6. Tip the blitzed tomato mixture in with the mole paste. Keep stirring and adding ladles of the poaching liquid until you have a nice smooth sauce consistency - it should be like a thick gravy.
7. Once the chicken is cooked (it should reach an internal temperature of 75°C), remove the pieces from the pot. Allow them to cool slightly before removing each of the breasts (take them off whole) and jointing the legs away from the thighs.
8. To serve, place the chicken on a warmed plate and spoon over plenty of sauce add the cooked rice, pickled red cabbage and some fresh coriander.
Instructions for Mexican Green Rice
1. Using a blender, blitz up the poblano chillies, onion, garlic and coriander with a little of the chicken stock to make a bright green paste.
2. Fry the rice for a minute in the rapeseed oil then tip in the poblano paste and cook for a further minute.
3. Add in the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and place a lid on. Cook for 10 minutes.
Instructions for Pickled Red Cabbage
1. Place the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, fennel seeds and bay leaf in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat.
2. Slice up the red cabbage and combine with the vinegar solution.
3. Leave for at least 20 minutes. Any left-overs can be jarred up and kept in the fridge for several weeks.
Enjoy! Foodies, don't forget to tag us in your social feeds and leave us a review when you cook this Somerset Foodie recipe at home!
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I keep reaching for our delicious Pickled Lemon Paste. It's intense lemon flavour provides a great lift to so many dishes whether it's a stew, sauce, dressing or marinade. This little salad is really quick and simple to prepare. The liquorice flavour of fennel is perfectly suited to carrying strong flavours...
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