This is my favorite sauce to make; it takes time, but it’s unlike anything I’ve tasted before, so I frequently make it for my friends to try.
Then after the film and just before the guests arrive I start making the sauce from the ingredients, ready to cook the chicken (Traditionally it’s with turkey, but chicken has more flavor). There is plenty of sauce here so I split what’s left into freezable containers for use later. It should keep for a couple of months.
As this is a Mexican recipe, the text is American; but for bell pepper, read sweet pepper, tomatillos are green tomatoes (no, not unripe reds! They have a more sharp taste), and plantains you should find in asian shops, hopefully also the tomatillos. While you’re there, if they’ve got banana leaves, buy ‘em and freeze ‘em! Good for presentation on this dish, also for the Puerco Pibil.
One other thing; don’t despair over the amount of sugar. This is what puts this recipe above all the others I tried. You’ve got a lot of bitterness to offset, from the bitter Mexican chocolate to the dry toasted and then fried dried chiles, also the tartness of the tomatillos…. and keep tasting! Too little is not enough, but too much and you can’t go back.
2 chipotle chiles
8 ancho chiles or mulato chiles
8 pasilla negro chiles
½ large red bell pepper
½ cup (2½ oz) sesame seeds
¾ cup peanut oil
¼ loaf French bread, sliced
½ cup walnut pieces
½ tablet (1.5 ounces) Mexican chocolate
½ Mexican cinnamon stick
2 Italian plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 tomatillos, husks removed
1 small plantain or ripe banana, peeled and cut into chunks
1.5-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced in ½ inch-thick rounds
¼ large white onion, quartered
2 quarts water
1 cups olive oil
Approx 1 cup brown sugar
Part boned chicken breasts and chicken thighs
Preheat an oven to 350°F (Gas mark 4)
Clean any dust and dirt from the dried chiles with a damp towel and dry them off thoroughly. If the chiles are moist during the dry sauteing, they will char and be bitter. Stem all the chiles but do not seed. Set aside.
Roast the red bell pepper in the oven, then stem and peel but do not seed. Set aside.
Place the sesame seeds in a dry 10-inch saute pan over low heat. Stir the seeds or shake the pan constantly until the seeds are slightly brown, 20 mlnutes or so. Be careful not to burn them. Remove from the heat and empty into a good-sized bowl to cool. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the browned seeds for garnish.
In a large, dry saute pan over low heat, place the chipotle, ancho/mulato and pasilla negro chiles, and shake the pan constantly or stir until they are evenly toasted, 3 to 5 mlnutes. Do not char the dried chiles when toasting them or they will be bitter. Remove the toasted chiles from the pan and set aside.
Pour the peanut oil into the same pan and place over medium heat until hot. Carefully drop in the toasted chiles a few at a time, and leave each batch in the oil for a few seconds. The chiles should soften, swell, and smell fragrant, Using a slotted utensil, remove the chiles and add them to the toasted sesame seeds. When all of the chiles have been fried, add the bell peppers to the bowl. Reserve the oil, keeping it in the saute pan.
Place the bread and walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Place in the oven until the bread is dry and the walnuts are lightly toasted, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the walnuts occasionally to they do not burn.
Meanwhile, break the chocolate tablet and cinnamon sticks into 3 or 4 large pieces and place in the bottom of a large bowl. When the toasted walnuts and warm bread are ready, slide them atop the chocolate, to melt It. Set aside.
Reheat the reserved peanut oil in the saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the whole tomatoes, garlic cloves, tomatillos, plantain/banana chunks, ginger, and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, the tomatoes begin to char and burst, and the tomatillos have turned a darker green, 7 to 10 mins. Empty the contents into a colander to drain. Discard the oil.
Add the drained vegetable mixture to the large bowl containing the chocolate/bread mixture and stir well. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender, and blend, adding enough water to make the resulting sauce smooth but still thick. The sauce should have the consistency of a milkshake, but not be as thick as tomato paste. A blender is easier to use than a food processor for this work. Continue to blend in batches until all of the water and the vegetable mixture have been combined. Strain through a large-mesh strainer or china cap (conically shaped metal strainer), using the back of a wooden spoon to push the puree through.
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil until it just begins to smoke. Add the puree. This will spit like crazy, so be careful, and take the pan off the flame while adding the puree. Whisk the oil and puree together with, a wire whisk until well blended. Turn the heat back on to low and cook, stirring frequently so that the mole does not burn, for 20 minutes.
Taste the mole. If it is too piquant, slowly add brown sugar until a balance is achieved between piquant and sweet, If the chiles are quite hot, you may find yourself adding quite a lot of sugar! You may also want to add a bit more Mexican chocolate to deepen the flavor. Remove from the heat, but cover to keep hot.
Now instead of cooking a whole chicken as is the tradition, normally I like to part-poach some chicken breasts and thighs in a saucepan, then finish them off in the mole sauce that slightly less than covers the chicken. You don’t want too much sauce. Breasts on their own don’t seem to work, it needs a little of the greasiness of the thighs. Girls tend to favor the breasts, so guys, you’ve got the thighs!
It looks nice if you arrange the chicken pieces in their sauce on a serving plate and sprinkle the remaining toasted sesame seeds over the top, then put it next to the Puerco, the guacamole and the rice and let people serve themselves.