Cinco de Mayo (The Fifth of May) is a Mexican holiday celebrating the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862. Puebla's signature dish is Molé Poblano--a Chocolate spicy stew--the national dish of Mexico. It's not sweet, even with the chocolate, since there are groundnuts, seeds, bitter chocolate and spices. There are so many varieties. Here are a few variations. Want to go the easiest route? Try Molé paste with Mexican Ibarra chocolate. You'll still want to add some chicken broth and tomato juice and maybe some peanut butter, but it's quick -- or you can try one of these recipes:
Chicken Molé, my favorite Mexican chocolate main dish, can be very complicated to make. Here's an easy recipe adapted from Paula Deen for a quick Chicken Molé. o.k. it's not all that quick, but faster than the traditional recipes.
1. Quick Chicken Molé
2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 chipotle peppers, roughly chopped
1 (10-ounce) can chicken broth
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 ounces Taza Chocolate Mexicano, chopped
1 (5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for garnish
White rice, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and spices and continue to saute to toast and develop flavor. Add diced tomatoes, peppers, chipotles, broth, peanut butter, and chocolate. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and puree until smooth.
Sear chicken in heavy bottomed hot saute pan over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Add to casserole dish, cover with sauce and braise in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Garnish with pepitas and serve with white rice.
You can also use this molé recipe with Enchiladas!
The following recipe is from Kendall Jackson. Pair a Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Malbec with this.
2. Chicken Molé Poblano with Animal Crackers
1 whole chicken
3 quarts water
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp oregano
Place all ingredients in large pot and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 1 hour or until chicken is done. Strain and reserve liquid and chicken.
For mole sauce:
4 Tbsp rice oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
8 dried mulato chilies, stems and seeds removed
4 dried pasilla chilies, stems and seeds removed
4 dried ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed
2 dried cascabel or chipotle chilies, stems and seeds removed
¼ cup peanuts
3 garlic cloves
1/4 large onion
1/2 plantain, diced
12 animal crackers
3 whole black peppercorns
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
5 cups reserved chicken stock
2 slices bacon
½ bar (1½ oz.) Mexican chocolate (Ibarra)
In large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, add oil and sauté the chilies for approximately 3 minutes. Stir chilies constantly, being careful not to burn them. Using slotted spoon, remove chilies and reserve.
Add almonds and peanuts and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Add garlic, onions and plantains and cook until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Add animal crackers and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Add raisins, peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon and cook until aromatic. Remove from heat and place in blender, add chilies, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds and the chicken stock. Purée until sauce is smooth consistency.
In small pan, cook bacon until fat has rendered. Remove bacon and all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan (bacon can be eaten or reserved for another use). Add chocolate to pan. Once chocolate has dissolved, cook for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Add bacon fat and chocolate mixture to purée and stir to combine.
To serve: Slice chicken onto platter and cover with mole sauce. Garnish with remaining sesame seeds. Serve with Mexican rice and tortillas on the side.
Extra mole sauce can be frozen for up to 2 months.
***Here's a completely different mole recipe--this time for WHITE Chocolate Molé with Animal Crackers. Recipe from Judy Walker in the Arizona Republic a few years ago.
3. White Chocolate Molé with Animal Crackers
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
2 whole cloves
1 fresh poblano chile, seeded and chopped
2 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 small clove garlic
1/2 white Spanish onion, cut into chunks
5 animal crackers, toasted
1/4 cup sweet butter
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread peanuts, almonds and walnuts on a jelly-roll pan. Toast in oven, shaking pan occasionally, until nuts are slightly colored and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.
In blender, combine nuts, water, cinnamon stick and cloves; blend until nuts are very finely ground. Strain through medium-mesh sieve over bowl, pressing on solids with back of ladle or rubber spatula to release liquid. Reserve liquid and discard solids.
In blender, combine chiles, garlic, onion and nut liquid. Add animal crackers; puree until smooth. Strain through medium-mesh sieve over bowl, pressing on solids with back of ladle or rubber spatula to release liquid. Discard solids.
In large saucepan, heat butter. Stir in nut-chile liquid. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat, scraping bottom of pan occasionally with a rubber spatula, until mixture is consistency of thick pea soup, about 15 minutes.
Stir in chocolate, salt and pepper until chocolate is melted. Use immediately.
Note: The molé without the chocolate can be made ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to a week. To serve, heat in a saucepan and stir in the chocolate.
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