“Don't be put off by the idea of using chocolate in a dish like this: it's added to bring all the flavours together and give it a rich thickness. It's great with chicken, whether roasted or boiled, and also great with pork, beef, lamb, or served beside roasted fish. A good mole should be sweet, spicy, silky smooth and a pleasure to dip any bit of old lucky eat into. It should also have a tiny edge of acidity to help it cut through the richness of the meat. Give it a go.”Mole poblano is touted as the national dish of Mexico (a Latin American country), and is a sauce made with chocolate, chilli and other herbs and spices. It is often served with turkey, but in this recipe, chicken was used. Since this fortnight’s Cookbook Challenge is ‘American’ I took Jamie Oliver’s advice, and gave this dish a go.
He wasn’t lying. The chocolate gave the sauce such a rich texture, and all the flavours went so well together. My family had this for dinner last night, served with steamed rice and green salad, and my dad even commented that it ‘it taste like something he’d have in a Mexican restaurant’. I know that chocolate does make desserts taste better, but I never knew how it can actually make savory dishes taste good too.
I have had several good experiences with Jamie Oliver's recipes, but I hardly use them because they are often so lengthy, complicated, or time-consuming. If it is not for this cookbook challenge, I would probably have given this recipe a miss (You may have noticed that most of my usual dishes tend to be fast and simple). But now that I know how beautiful this dish is, I will certainly be making it again.
Chicken Mole Poblano
Adapted from Jamie’s America
Serves 3-4 (The original recipe served 6-8, but I halved it)
For the chicken boil
1 kg chicken (I used large drumsticks)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 onions, peeled and quartered
1 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
3 dried bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
5 black peppercorns
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
For the chocolate mole
3 large dried red chillies
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onions , peeled and roughly chopped
1 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 heaped tsp sesame seeds
200g tin of chopped tomatoes (I used ½ tin)
1 heaped tsp cocoa powder
Salt and pepper
50g good quality dark chocolate, broken into chunks (70%)*
Red wine vinegar (He didn't specify how much, but I used 1 tbsp)
Toasted sesame seeds (Optional)
- Put your chicken into a large pan with all the other boil ingredients and cover with cold water to come a couple of centimeters above it. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a lower simmer, cover with a lid and cook for about 1 to 1.5 hours.Skim away any foam that rises to the top. Top up with a little hot water if it looks as though it's cooked down a lot.
- When your chicken is cooking, get your mole sauce together. Put your dried chillies in a bowl and cover them with 425 ml of boiling water. Let them soak in this for about 10 to 15 mins until they soften.
- Get a large pan on a medium heat and add olive oil, onions, sliced garlic, soaked chillies (make sure you save their water),cumin and ground cinnamon. Slowly cook everything for about 15 to 20 mins, until the vegetables have softened and sweetened.
- Stir in the sesame seeds and tinned tomatoes, then fill the empty tin with some of the water (about 1/4 can) you soaked your chillies in and add this too. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add your cocoa powder and a good pinch of salt and pepper, stir really well and cook for another 5 minutes.
- At this point, add the chunks of chocolate and stir them in gently until melted, then pour the sauce into a food processor for a few minutes. Taste and add red wine vinegar or more salt and pepper if necessary. The sauce should have a loose consistency, so add a splash of chili water if it looks too thick.
- When it is lovely and smooth, pour it into a bowl, cover it with foil and put it in a large pan with a few centimeters of simmering water to keep it warm until the chicken is ready.
- Using tongs, move the chicken from the pan to a carving board and get rid of the bones. Take 2 forks and shred the meat into bits and pieces. To serve, transfer the chicken to a plate, and pour the mole sauce over. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!
* Use dairy-free dark chocolate if you are allergic to dairy like me.
Do check out my fellow Cookbook Challengers' entries here.