Mole Poblano


Mole (pronounced mo-lay, Mexican Spanish for ‘concoction’) is the name given to a range of traditional Mexican sauces, of which Mole Poblano is probably the most famous.

Chicken Mole
This sauce has extremely complex and refined flavours, blending the superb combination of chocolate and chilli to produce a rich, dark, thick sauce which particularly complements chicken.  Despite the number of Chillies in this recipe, it is amazingly mild and balanced – yet another example of how chilli can add wonderful spice without being hot.

Mole Poblano takes time to prepare, and because of this it tends to be made in large quantities.  The good news is that it freezes well.  This recipe is enough for maybe 8 adults, so use on 8 chicken quarters or 2 whole birds. Also very good with Turkey  (- I’m considering this as an ‘alternative’ Christmas dinner!) and a variety of vegetarian dished (this would be great with squash or beans).

Struggling to find the right ingredients?  As ever, you can improvise.  There is no hard and fast rule around which chillies you should use, but they should be mild. Can’t get hold of Mexican Chocolate?  Use a high cocoa content dark chocolate and add a sprinkling of cinnamon instead.

Alternatively you’ll find a lot of good suppliers of authentic ingredients on-line.  I was fortunate enough to come across a shop on a recent weekend break to London.  Staying across the road from the famous Borough Market, I came across the Cool Chilli Company and immediately fell in love.  Fortunately for me, they supply their superb quality goods over the web – well worth checking them out.

Serves 8

Preparation & Cooking time: 3 hours

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 10 dried Ancho Chilli
  • 4 dried Pasilla Chilli
  • 4 dried Mulato Chilli
  • cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 75g whole Almonds
  • 50g Sesame Seeds, toasted
  • 75g Raisins
  • 3 large Tomatoes, chopped or 1 tin, drained of most juice
  • 80g Dark Chocolate (preferable Mexican)
  • 50g Cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves, ground
  • 1/2 tsp Star Anise, ground
  • Salt & Sugar to taste

    Method

    Mole Chillies, deseeded
    Mole Chillies, deseeded

    Start by preparing your chillies.  Remove the stalk and slit open with a knife.  Remove the seeds – these will not be required in this dish, but don’t discard them, they can be used elsewhere!

    Soften the chillies
    Soften the chillies

    Heat the oil in a frying pan and quickly heat the chillies, a few at a time to soften them.  Press them into the pan to get an even heat.  DO NOT allow to burn or they will turn bitter!  it will only take a few seconds on each side.  Once softened, drop into a large jug or bowl, but try and retain as much of the oil in the pan.  Repeat until all chillies have been processed

    Soaking Chillies
    Soak in hot water

    Top the jug with boiling water and allow the chillies to reconstitute for at least 30 minutes

    In the pan used to soften the chillies, add the garlic, roughly chopped almonds and raisins.  Sweat for a couple of minutes – the raisins will start to swell up

    Pass of tomato mixture
    Puree the soaked chillies

    Put the garlic, almonds and raisins into a food processor with the tomatoes, sesame seeds, corn flour and ground spices.  Blend until smooth.

    Pass the mixture off through a fine sieve and into a large pan, pushing through with the back of a spoon or ladle.  Get as much of the mixture through as possible and discard the remaining solids.  If you look to have too much solid left, through the whole lot back into the food process and blend again, then repeat.  Once you’re satisfied that there’s no more goodness to squeeze out, move on to the chillies

    Puree chilli
    Blend chillies until smooth

    Once reconstituted,  add the chillies to the food processor.  Taste the liquor to ensure that it doesn’t taste too bitter discard, and add 600 ml to the processor.  Blend until smooth.

    Again, pass off the almost black mixture through the sieve and into the pan with the tomato mixture

    Passed off Pureed Chilli
    Passed off Pureed Chilli

    Heat the contents of the pan until it comes to the boil, bring to a simmer and continue to stir until thickened.

    Add 1 1/5 litres boiling water, 1 tsp salt and 2 tbsp sugar and stir well and simmer gently for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally until the sauce has a thick, rich pouring consistency.

    Taste and adjust seasoning to get a balanced flavour of spices against the salt and sweet.

    At this point the sauce is ready to use or freeze.  How about trying a simple Chicken Mole?

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