There are few tastes more distinctive than a well-made mole sauce. This Mexican classic is served in many restaurants, but rarely lives up to its reputation as one of the most noteworthy dishes of Mexican cuisine. Many think it is too spicy hot – it’s not; others are turned off by the somewhat sweetish taste of the dark chocolate, and still others have never experienced authentic Mexican cooking and continue to dine at Taco Bell.
I will often give chicken mole a try in a serious Mexican restaurant, but am generally disappointed. There are hundreds of variations and mole sauce is often found on chicken, pork, beef and occasionally a few vegetarian dishes. I suppose that there are as many variations of mole as there are Mexican cooks. The recipe below for chicken mole is from Gloria, a self-taught cook from Mexico, who in my mind – and palette – captures the essence of a fine mole.
Note: This recipe is for chicken mole and we strongly recommend making homemade chicken stock and then use the skinless chicken in the mole sauce. Make beef or pork broth the same way. While the fowl and meats lose a lot of flavor when eaten this way, the real star of the show is the mole sauce that should be served with rice.
Gloria's Authentic Chicken Mole
Yield 6-8 servings
There are few things more flavorful than a homemade mole sauce. I had the privilege of shopping with Gloria and help her (as sous chef) prepare this most wonderful mole. It is complicated and time-consuming, but certainly worth the effort.
- 1 quart chicken stock (homemade is best - use chicken drumsticks or assorted chicken pieces if making chicken mole)
- At least four varieties of dried chiles (the more the better, but avoid chiles that are too hot). In this recipe, we used the following 4 varieties of chiles which can be found in most Mexican or ethnic grocery stores:
- Chile Pasilla - Ancho Entero
- Chile Mulato Entero - Mulato chili
- Chile Guajillo Entero - Guajillo chili
- Chile Negro Entero - Negro chili
- Six whole cloves
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- Ground pepper
- 1/4 cup of flour
- 1 bar chocolate (Ibarra brand is preferred)
- 8 oz tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dry oregano or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- Create chicken stock using 6 to 12 drumsticks, thighs or other chicken parts. The more concentrated the chicken stock the more taste will be imparted to the mole. Save the chicken parts to add to the mole.
- As the chicken stock is cooking down, take stems and seeds out of dry chilies and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. When oil begins to ripple add the chilies turning once or twice to cover in oil and quickly heat (between 15 seconds to 45 seconds depending on oil temperature).
- Remove the oiled chilies and place in a saucepan together with about 2 cups or more of the chicken stock. Cook for a few minutes to allow the chilies to absorb the chicken stock.
- Transfer mixture to a blender and add the cloves, the garlics, a tablespoon of cumin and ground pepper to taste. Blend until you have a very fine paste (about 1-2 minutes)
- In a deep skillet add a couple tablespoons of oil. When hot add 1/4 cup of flour (finely ground bread is OK) and stir into oil until it becomes totally emulsified and begins to boil.
- Carefully strain the chile mixture through a sieve and add to the oil and flour mixture. The mole sauce should be like gravy (not too thick). Pulp captured in the sieve can be returned to the blender for further processing if needed.
- Add chicken broth if needed to get the desired consistency.
- Once the mixture is boiling, stir in the bar of dark chocolate (chocolate Ibarra)
- Add an 8 oz can of tomato paste
- Cook 20 to 30 minutes
- Add the deboned chicken (in this case the drumsticks) and cook for a few more minutes.
Serve with rice and tortillas.
This is an elaborate and time-consuming recipe that requires the better part of a morning to prepare. Be prepared for failure your first time around, but if you are hooked by the delicious and unique flavor of a well-prepared Mole sauce, this is the real deal.