Feeding a Crowd

Mole Poblano

This is a recipe shared by Milton Rosas, as a food that resounds with him both as cultural connection and a fond memory from childhood. It's a recipe from the Puebla region of Mexico, where his family is from, and what makes it special is a bar of chocolate- making it sweet, spicy, and, in his words, "amazing". 

The thing he notes is that this is a meal eaten best at large gatherings and celebrations- a meal to make together, and a meal to eat together. 

For the chicken:
1 Large chicken cut up in pieces
About 8 cups of water
1 Small onion cut up in pieces
3 Garlic cloves
Salt to taste
For the Sauce:
6 Mulato peppers
4 Ancho peppers
6 Pasilla peppers
1 Tablespoon of reserved pepper seeds
6 Whole cloves
1/2 Teaspoon black peppercorn
1/4 Teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 Teaspoonanises seeds
3/4 Cup sesame seeds
3/4 Inch of mexican cinnamon stick
1/2 Cup of raisins
1/3 Cup unskinned almonds
1/3 Cup peanuts
1 Corn tortilla
3 Small slices of french bread
1/3 Cup of raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 Small white onion sliced
2 Medium roasted tomatoes
3 Garlic gloves roasted
1/2 Large ripe dark-skinned plantain peeled, thickly sliced
1 Tablet of Mexican drinking Chocolate* About 3.1 ounces.
The reserved broth from the cooked chicken.
1/2 Cup of oil or lard to fry the ingredients
Salt to taste

Instructions to cook the chicken:
1. Combine all ingredients in large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, skimming foam, about 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to bowl; cover and chill. Strain and reserve broth in pot.

For the Mole Sauce
1. Get all the ingredients ready according to the list. This step is very important.
2. Prepare the peppers . Make sure to clean the dry peppers with a wet cloth and cut the peppers using your kitchen scissors if possible to flatten them for an even toasting.
3. Have a large pot ready with simmering chicken broth or water to soak all the ingredients after toasting or frying. They will get softer and easier to grind this way.
4. In a skillet toast the dry peppers a few at a time, on both sides, pressing them down as you turn them, until the inside flesh turns tobacco brown. This takes a few seconds, take care not to let them burn. Place them in the bowl with the broth to soak. Keep toasting the rest of the peppers and placing them in the broth.
5. Meanwhile, toast separately the reserved peppers seeds, the coriander seeds, the anise seeds and sesame seeds. Set them aside to cool.
6. Grind in an electric coffee/spice grinder as finely as possible. Cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, and all the toasted ingredients except the sesame seeds. In case you do not have a grinder, but you have a professional blender skip this step and place the spices and seeds on the pot with the rest of the ingredients to be grinded in the blender.
7. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds for serving the mole; grind the rest as finely as possible. After this step add this mixture of spices and seeds to the bowl with the peppers.
8. Now, add a small portion of the lard or vegetable oil to a skillet and begin frying the following ingredients separately draining any excess fat after frying: the raisins until plump up, the almonds until well browned, the pumpkin seeds until they swell (take care, since they tend to explode and jump).
9. Every ingredient will be added to the pot with the chicken broth. You can roast the tomatoes and garlic cloves while frying the rest of the ingredients. Fry the onions until golden brown and place in the bowl.
10. Fry the tortilla and bread until crisp. Only add a little more lard at a time or it will be absorbed, specially by the tortilla and bread.
11. Add plantain and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, drain excess fat and transfer to bowl. Make sure to use a ripe plantain.
12. This is the bowl where all the fried and toasted ingredients were placed and now are ready to go into the blender. It is going to look a little bit messy. Crush the bread and tortilla roughly, chop the tomatoes roasted tomatoes. This will make the grinding process a little bit easier.
13. Put 1/2 cup of the chicken broth into the blender jar, don’t forget to add peeled garlic. Gradually add the spice mixture and blend well; then add another 1/2 cup of broth and gradually blend the fried ingredients to a slightly fine paste. Try not to add more liquid (unless your blender motor is heating or smoking) but constantly release the blades with a rubber spatula. You will have to do this step in 2 or 3 batches until everything has been pureed. I use my Vitamix and grind the whole sauce twice. If the end results are still coarse, pass the whole mixture through a strainer.
14. In a large skillet over medium heat, reheat the sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan very often to avoid sticking. Season with salt.
15. Continue frying until the mixture is very thick, about 8 minutes, and stir. Add more broth as needed to desire thickness and continue cooking, the mixture should be bubbling and splattering—for about 25 minutes. By now pools of oil should be forming on the surface.
16. Add cooked chicken to hot mole; simmer until chicken is heated through, about 10 minutes. To serve, place a piece of chicken on a warm plate. Spoon on plenty of the mole sauce; sprinkle with sesame seeds. In Mexico it is usually serve with white rice with peas and a lot of warm tortillas.

This mole can be made well ahead and the leftover sauce can be kept very successfully in the freezer for about six months. When reheated it will probably have to be diluted with more broth and freshly cooked chicken, or better yet used for chicken-filled enchiladas.

Recipe Notes
This Mole Sauce is not spicy if you want to add some heat to the sauce, add 2 dried chipotle peppers or morita peppers.
If you want it a little sweeter, add more chocolate.
some recipes suggest frying the dry peppers, you could choose to do so.

Recipe and image by Mely Martinez.

Martinez, M. (2009, February 24). How to Make Mole Poblano. Retrieved from ​https://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/how-to-make-mole-poblano/#wprm-recipe-container-2190

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