Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cocinando con Roberto: pollo mole

Cooking with Roberto: chicken mole. (Mole is pronounced "MO-lay")

Mole is defined as: A smooth thick sauce used in Mexican cooking made of one type of chile or many chiles, and flavored with onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nuts, seeds, and chocolate. The flavor is rich, smoky, and very complex. Rick Bayless, a noted American chef who specializes in traditional Mexican cooking with modern interpretations, likens it to a "twenty-piece band." Roberto starts with purchased mole sauce and adds a few extra ingredients to improve the flavor, a much easier method by far.

**Note: all ingredients are approximate, a little more or a little less won't change the final result.

chicken legs and thighs, maybe 8-10 pieces total
1 onion, quartered
2-3 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
1 pound (500 grams) commercial mole (Doña Maria, for example)
chicken broth (cooking liquid is better because of its milder flavor)
2 slices toasted bread (or pan tostada)
12 almonds
3-4 ounces (100 grams) sweetened chocolate (Ibarra, for example)
1 small plantain (banana macho)
sesame seeds

Remove skin and visible fat from chicken. Put into a large pot and cover with water. Add onion, celery, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30-40 minutes or until no longer pink in the center. Save all cooking liquid.

Whirl in a blender almonds and broken-up toasted bread, set aside. Blend plantain, cut into chunks, with enough chicken broth to make it blend. Add broken pieces of chocolate, one at a time, and some sesame seeds, maybe 2-3 tablespoons.

Put the commercial mole sauce into a large saucepan. The Dona Maria mole we used was really hard to dig out of the jar once the top layer of oil was poured off. Turn on heat to medium, add enough chicken broth so the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom. Add almond/bread mixture and plantain mixture and more chicken broth until it's the consistency of a thick syrup.

Put cooked chicken into a large deep frying pan, pour lots of mole over the top and heat through. We served the mole with white rice, cooked with the rest of the chicken broth. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top once it's plated.

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