Black Mole from Puebla: Mole Poblano

Recipe courtesy Fany Gerson
TOTAL TIME: 3 hr 30 min
Prep: 1 hr
Inactive Prep: 30 min
Cook: 2 hr
YIELD: 4 to 6 servings
LEVEL: Difficult

ingredients

CHICKEN:
  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken pieces, with the skin on
  • Sea salt
  • 1 sprig fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 bay leaf
    MOLE:
    • 5 medium dried mulato chiles*
    • 3 medium dried ancho chiles*
    • 4 medium dried pasilla chiles*
    • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, plus a few extra for garnish
    • 6 ounces canned whole tomatoes, rinsed
    • 2 to 3 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
    • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
    • About 1 cup rich-tasting lard or vegetable oil, divided
    • 1 small white onion, sliced
    • 1/2 small ripe plantain
    • 1/4 cup unskinned peanuts
    • 1/4 cup unskinned almonds
    • 1 day-old corn tortilla, torn in pieces
    • 1 (2-inch) slice day-old crusty bread
    • 2 tablespoons raisins
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped Mexican chocolate* (about 3 ounces)
    • Salt
    • 2 whole cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
    • 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
    • 1 (1 1/2-inch) stick Mexican cinnamon, toasted*
    • Serving suggestion: rice and warm corn tortillas
      • *Can be found at specialty Latin groceries and markets.
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        Directions

        For the chicken: In a large pot, cover the chicken with cold water. Add the salt, cilantro, black peppercorns, onion and bay leaf to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn down the heat and simmer until the chicken is par-cooked. Strain and reserve the broth. Cover the chicken so it doesn't dry out.

        The next step will be to toast many ingredients so I suggest you open the window and turn on the exhaust if you have one.

        For the mole: Stem and remove the veins and seeds from all the chiles, but reserve the seeds. Toast the chiles on a cast-iron skillet, griddle or comal over moderate heat until they have toasted on both sides but aren't burned (as this will make them bitter). Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water until they are soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Blend the chiles in a blender to form a smooth paste. Add only enough water, but as little as possible, to help blend, scraping the sides as needed. Set the chile paste aside. Don't rinse your blender yet.

        Using the same skillet, toast the chile seeds and sesame seeds over moderate heat, stirring often so they toast evenly, until the sesame seeds are dark golden brown. Set aside.

        Put the tomatoes, tomatillos and unpeeled garlic in the skillet, turning as needed so that all sides are blackened on all items. Set aside to cool off slightly.

        Heat about 1/4 cup lard or oil in a pan over medium heat. First, fry the sliced onions until dark golden, stirring often and adding more lard as needed. Remove with a slotted spoon to a container. Following the same procedure, fry the plantains until dark brown, the peanuts until golden, the almonds until golden, the tortillas until crisp, the bread until dark golden on both sides and the raisins until plump.

        Peel the cooled garlic and place in the blender together with the spices, the charred tomato and tomatillos and some of the fried onions, plantains, nuts, tortilla, bread and raisins. Do this in batches until it's all blended together, using a little of the reserved chicken broth to help blend to a smooth paste.

        In a large heavy pot, heat a little lard or oil and fry the chile paste together with the tomatillo puree and the Mexican chocolate. You should hear a sizzle when it hits the pan (it might splatter so be careful). Continue to cook, adjusting the heat so it's at a constant simmer, and stirring often until the mixture begins to change color and thicken. Add about 5 cups chicken broth and cook at a simmer for 1 hour, making sure to stir often so it doesn't burn at the bottom. Taste and add a little salt if needed. The consistency should be like a thick sauce and coat the back of a spoon. (At this point you can reserve the sauce if you are making it ahead of time, the flavors will actually intensify. If so, simply heat so the mole is bubbling gently but evenly before proceeding.)

        Add the chicken legs and thighs to the mole and cook for about 10 minutes, partially covered. Add the chicken breast and cook until all the chicken is fully cooked, 15 more minutes. Remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon onto your serving dishes or platters and pour the mole over the chicken to cover generously. Sprinkle with the extra sesame seeds (these can be toasted or raw). Serve with rice or warm corn tortillas.

        Cook's Note: Because mole is time consuming to make, make at least double the amount of the sauce and freeze once it has cooled.

        This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

        Notes

        Moles in Mexico are made for special celebrations - baptisms, Christmas, Day of the Dead and many other holidays. Moles are complex and require lots of patience, time and love but trust me, it will all be worth it at the end of the day. Don't feel intimidated by the amount of ingredients but rather be exited. Each one provides a layer of flavor and texture that makes this dish so special.

        You will probably have a little left over sauce but you can freeze it or use it to make other things, like mole enchiladas.

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