Sunday, February 19, 2012

Miriam's Mole de Pollo ("Chicken Mole")

Mole ( pronounced mow-leh; mow as in "mow the lawn")  is a very popular Mexican dish and a staple at my house! Mole refers to the sauce made with peppers, spices, garlic and even chocolate. Of course, there are different types of moles and even varies by states and regions of my native Mexico. I read that there are over 300 types of mole of different colors. Growing up my mother only made two (and we were greatly satisfied with both of these because they were absolutely delicious!) of these 300 moles. She made a green one, and a red one. Sounds simple, eh? Green and Red, how hard could that be? Well, you'd be surprised to know that many Mexican woman (atleast the ones here in the States) do not know how to make mole and do not dare to try (for fear of failure). I am here to tell you that it should not be that way. When it comes to Mexican food, I have to have it authentic! No tex-mex for me when it comes to dishes like mole but that doesn't mean it has to be hard!
Like I mentioned before, I grew up eating two very tasty moles. Red or brown mole is known to have chocolate in it but my mother was never a big fan of it. I, however, do add some when I have some in my pantry. If not, it's no biggie for me as I prefer mine spicy! We enjoy this delicious dish with Mexican rice, handmade tortillas, and black or pinto beans. I, personally prefer beans that we call frijoles de la olla as opposed to frijoles refritos. Frijoles de la olla literally translated means "beans of a pot" and is basically the beans cooked in water. They are soaked and then cooked with onion, salt and garlic (optional). Once they are tender (and still in it's own soup), we eat it along with a main dish. Frijoles refritos, on the other hand, are refried beans. Basically, fried frijoles de la olla. My mother used to fry them with vegetable oil and onion and/ or a bit of pork lard. Of course, the pork lard gives it so much flavor but is less figure and health friendly tee hee! 
 Now, for the rice, my mother used to always make "red rice"  or "tomato rice" (used interchangeably) to accompany her award-winning mole. She made this with jasmine rice, vegetable oil, onions, tomatoes, plenty of garlic, chicken broth, and a vegetable medley. Are you getting hungry yet? I, however, did a different type of rice this time. I was out of jasmine rice and decided to use brown rice. I just cooked it in chicken broth, pepper, salt, garlic, corn, and peas. One last thing before I give up my mole recipe- you must use a whole chicken! No taking shortcuts! You can't make this with just chicken breast! If you do not know how to cut a whole chicken, get your butcher to cut it for you.Whole chicken, please! Got it, okay, let's get on with the mole!!
Starting with garlic and going clockwise: garlic, onion slices, pepitas, cumin, black peppercorns. And in the center: cloves!

Tasty, yummy chicken mole, brown rice, and frijoles negros de la olla.

For this recipe, you will need:
1 WHOLE chicken (about 3 lbs)
1/4 small onion-medium-sized slices (yellow or white is up to you)
4 cups of water, plus 1/4 cup
salt & pepper to taste
6 cloves of garlic
4 whole cloves
2 pinches of whole cumin
5 black peppercorns
1/4 cup "pepitas" (dried, toasted pumpkin seeds (no shell)) 
1 tostada (fried tortilla) or a few tortilla chips (e.g: tostitos) 
1/4 Hershey's milk chocolate bar
5 dried chiles pasilla 
4 dried chiles guajillo 
5 dried chiles de arbol (omit these if you do not like yours too spicy)

(Note: if you don't cook Mexican often, you might not have some of these ingredients already but they are all inexpensive, can be found in almost all farmers market or Walmart, and last a long time. Plus, after trying this recipe, you are going to use them quite frequently! tee hee)

1. In a skillet (or comal  if you own one), toast all the dried chiles on both sides on low heat. toast both sides and set aside to cool down.
2. While the chiles cool down,  put the 4 cups of water into a large pot and put it on the stove on medium high heat until it boils.
3. Meanwhile, wash and cut your whole chicken into parts. The breasts into 4 pieces, two wings, two thighs, two legs, and the ribs. Do not throw any of these pieces, they are full of flavor. *Skip this step if you have it cut already*
4. Once the chiles are cooled down, remove and discard the stem. Then, break them in half. Shake them to remove all the seeds. Do not devein them. Place them all in a container with 1/4 cup of water to soak. Sink them down occasionally to make sure all the chiles are being soaked. 
5. Once the water has boiled, add the chicken carefully. Add to the pot almost all of the onion slices, leaving a few (about 5) for the sauce. Also add about 1 tbsp of salt. Lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes.
6. While the chicken cooks, make the sauce by putting the garlic, cloves, cumin, peppercorns, pepitas, tostada, chocolate, and the now soaked peppers (water and all) in a blender. Blend until well blended. Note: If your blender is having difficulty blending the sauce due to lack of enough liquids, use some of the chicken broth in the pot.
7. Once the chicken has cooked for 20 minutes, remove from heat. pour the broth into a container. You can use most of  this for rice and some will be used for the sauce.
8. Add the sauce into the pot with the chicken in it and return to the stove. Add some broth (little-by-little) to make sauce less thick. Stop when it is medium consistency. Note: This part is kind of easy to mess up if you pour too much chicken broth into the pot. That would make it watery and not too yummy. That is why I say little-by-little.
9. Add salt to taste and let the mole de pollo cook for about 20 more minutes or until fully cooked. This is bone-in so it takes a bit longer. This should be done over medium-low heat.
10. Serve with beans, rice, and tortillas and enjoy!

^ Yummy!! Handmade tortillas!

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