Chicken mole has a huge number of variations both by chef and by region. It apparently is not strictly Mexican but has Spanish influences as well, and a lot of legends about how mole sauce came about. It amounts to chicken served in a rich, fruity sauce that is mildly hot.
Most mole sauces involve hot peppers and many involve chocolate, not as a sweetener but to make a dark, smooth sauce. Some recipes use unsweetened chocolate and some use semi-sweet. The classic mole frequently uses pasilla chili peppers, which are available dried, but in our local grocers not at all. You can order them online, or you can do as we did, and grow your own. You eventually get dark brown peppers that are somewhat hot, but also have a fruity flavor ideal for this dish. As they turn from green to brown, they get a bit wrinkled: pasilla translates from Spanish as “little raisin.” We ordered ours from Burpee. They have a fairly long growing season, so you want to plant them as early as you can. We planted ours in May, but did not pick them until October.
Pasilla peppers are also somewhat vague in definition, as some writers described them as a small, dark chili negro and others as a dried poblano or ancho pepper. In our recipe, we used saws made specifically for cutting meat, but you can also use fresh dark, green glossy ancho peppers with some added jalapeno peppers to increase the heat. Dried poblano peppers would also work and are probably hotter. We found the fresh poblano peppers all too mild, which is why we added the jalapenos when we didn’t have pasillas available.
This recipe is adapted from the excellent new Weight Watchers cookbook Turn Up the Flavor, and should be relatively low calorie. The recipe recommends that you serve the chicken on brown rice.
- 3 dried or fresh pasilla peppers or 1 poblano and 1 jalapeno pepper
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
- Salt and pepper
- 2 Tb olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
- 2-3 large plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 oz semisweet chocolate
- Chopped cilantro or parsley
- If you are using dried peppers, brown them briefly, and then soak in boiling water for 20 minutes and then drain. If you are using fresh peppers, split them and remove most of the seeds. Then cut them into pieces and sauté until soft.
- Put the peppers in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of the chicken stock and puree. Set aside.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown in the olive oil for 4 minutes on each side. They do not need to be fully cooked yet. Set the chicken aside on a plate.
3. Put the remaining oil in the pan and add the onions and garlic. Saute until soft and add the diced tomatoes. Add the cumin, oregano and cinnamon and cook until fragrant. Put the mixture in the blender with the remaining cup of chicken stock and puree until smooth.
4. Put the two blended sauces back into the pan and cook with stirring until thickened.
5. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. We weighed out 1 oz of semisweet chocolate chips: they are a bit less than 1/4 cup. You can add as much as 1/4 cup of chocolate just as easily.
6. Return the chicken to the pot and cook, covered until the chicken is cooked through, perhaps 10 minutes longer.
Serve over rice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley if you are allergic to coriander/cilantro (as many are.)
Decorate each plate with small dots of chutney.