Aside from Tamales, Mole (MOH-lay) is one of my favourite Mexican dishes.
Mole is Mexico’s national dish although many Mexican restaurants don’t even have it on their menu. It may simply be a sauce but one that is not so simple to make.
NEVER say NEVER! I said I’d never make it again but I did, just the other day. I made the most delicious Mexican Mole with chicken in my slow cooker. I have to brag about it because it was really as good as any I’ve had before. Wow…what a statement to make. I’m good with it though because it really was. The only other time I made mole was when a Mexican friend came to my house and instructed me how to. It was a lengthy process that I wasn’t prepared for with too many ingredients, too much assembling, washing, soaking, chopping, frying, blending, mess and cleanup involved. When I told another Mexican friend that I recently made mole she was surprised. She said, “hell, I just open up a can of DOÑA MARÍA® and serve it over chicken and rice. Too much work to make it from scratch.”
I found a recipe that intrigued me because it involved making it in a slow cooker. My slow cooker has made it out of the garage and occupies priority space on my countertop now as I’ve re-discovered some fantastic flavourful dishes to make in it. Anyway, I adapted the original recipe slightly (see my notes, it helps to be resourceful) using only what I had in house. I didn’t go out to pick up any ingredients as I had pretty much everything on hand including the chicken breasts and I felt lazy. I was ready to attempt it again. It was worth it. Here goes:
- 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12) *my notes: (I used a package of 8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut in half but gave one of them to my dog sans chipotle, so actually 7)
- Coarse salt
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
- 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped *my notes (I used good quality dehydrated chopped onion instead which worked well when rubbed onto the chicken).
- 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed *my notes (didn’t have ancho – used extra chipotle chile in adobo sauce instead – you can find the cans in the exotic food section of almost any store and once you open it, it tends to keep a long time refrigerated).
- 1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce *my notes (see above – I used less than half a can in total).
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1/4 cup raisins
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1/2 cup) *my notes (I only had unsweetened, semi-sweet and 70% so I used semi-sweet chocolate chips but just a bit less than ½ cup since they’re sweeter). Later I added a small handful of the 70% (melted first in the microwave) to make the colour darker & add richness. “I prefer my men, chocolate, and coffee to be rich.” Ha, couldn’t resist saying that.
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled *my notes (I used good quality minced garlic from California – also rubbed on the chicken).
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving *my notes (I used chopped green onion)
- Recipe says to first season chicken with salt *My Notes (I rubbed coarse kosher salt, minced garlic, chopped dehydrated onion and a bit of *McCormick Cocoa Chili Blend “great new find” on the chicken pieces) and place in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.
- In a blender (or preferably food processor), puree tomatoes, onion, ancho and chipotle chiles, almonds, raisins, chocolate, garlic, oil, cumin, and cinnamon until smooth.
- Add tomato mixture to slow cooker, cover, and cook on high until chicken is tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low). *my notes (I started 2 hours on high, and switched to low for 4 hours). I added extra dry garlic & onion sprinkles to the mix to make up for the lack of fresh. This coming from someone who just finished using fresh garlic braids from Gilroy, the garlic capital of California.
- Serve chicken and sauce over rice, topped with cilantro. Tortillas optional.
As you can see, i adapted the recipe quite a bit for what I had on hand – but it worked out fabulously. be careful to use the *right chocolate though. you can substitute semi-sweet for bittersweet but only if you must, never with unsweetened or milk chocolate. I served it over rice with tiny tortillas (warmed up in the oven) on the side. You may want to try the original knowing that you can do either.
The good news is this: bittersweet and semisweet are very similar. Bittersweet chocolate is often now labeled “dark chocolate” and clearly lists the percentage of chocolate. That percentage tells you how sweet the chocolate will be: chocolate labeled “70% chocolate” contains 30% sugar, “60% chocolate” contains 40% sugar, and so on. Semisweet chocolate tends to be higher in sugar than bittersweet or dark chocolate, but there can be overlap.
The bottom line: if your recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, you can use dark or semisweet, and when using semisweet, you can go just a little light on the sugar (for baking purposes that is).
Have you made Mole?
Original recipe: Martha Stewart