Monday, March 1, 2010
Chicken Mole Poblano - February Recipes to Rival
Another month has passed and it's time to reveal what has been done for the February Recipes to Rival challenge. Our hostess this month was Temperama of High on the Hog. She selected a Tyler Florence recipe called Chicken Mole Poblano for the challenge. This is what she had to say about her selection:
"When I think of February, Valentines day, romance and chocolate springs to mind, So when looking for a recipe for this month I wanted something that shouted Valentines day at me. Mole, that fabulous savory chocolate pepper sauce does that for me. spicey and full of passion with the romance of chocolate and just as individual as those we love."
She went on to provide a wonderful backstory for her choice.
"The origin of mole poblano, the thick, rich, chocolate-tinged sauce made so famous in the colonial mountain city of Puebla, Mexico, is still disputed, and generally involves these two versions of the legend:
The first says that 16th Century nuns from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles, upon learning that the Archbishop was coming for a visit, went into a panic because they had nothing to serve him. The nuns started praying desperately and an angel came to inspire them. They began chopping and grinding and roasting, mixing different types of chiles together with spices, day-old bread, nuts, a little chocolate and approximately 20 other ingredients..
This concoction boiled for hours and was reduced to the thick, sweet, rich and fragrant mole sauce we know today. To serve in the mole, they killed the only meat they had, an old turkey, and the strange sauce was poured over it. The archbishop was more than happy with his banquet and the nuns saved face. Little did they know they were creating the Mexican National dish for holidays and feasts, and that today, millions of people worldwide have at least heard of mole poblano.
The other legend states that mole came from pre-hispanic times and that Aztec king, Moctezuma, thinking the conquistadors were gods, served mole to Cortez at a banquet to receive them. This story probably gained credibility because the word mole comes from the Nahuatl word “milli” which means sauce or “concoction”. Another connection could be that chocolate was widely used in pre-Columbian Mexico, so people jumped to that conclusion.
Here is the recipe I chose (mainly for its simplicity and use of fairly common ingredients) please read the notes at the end and enjoy."
I made a few small changes to the recipe we were to use. I substituted skinned chicken thighs for the cut-up chicken called for in the recipe. I find that thighs hold up better to braising than other parts of the chicken. I lightly dusted them with seasoned flour to get them to brown. I also used canned, drained plum tomatoes in the sauce. The fresh ones available now just aren't very flavorful. Other than that, I used the recipe that follows. It's a nice chicken entree.
Chicken Mole Poblano
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
2 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried anaheim chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried chipotle chilies, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican, broken in pieces
1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 serrano peppers, stemmed and seeded
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Mexican, chopped
1 capon or large chicken, cut into 10 pieces
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving
For the mole: Tear the ancho, anaheim, and chipotle chiles into large pieces and toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat until they change color a bit, about 2 minutes. Put them into a bowl with the raisins and cover them with hot water. Soak unti softened, about 30 minutes. In the same skillet over medium heat, add the almonds, sesame seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, oregano, and thyme. Toast for 2 minutes, grind in a spice grinder, and add the powder to a blender. In the same skillet over medium-high heat add the olive oil, onions, garlic, and serrano. Cook until lightly browned, then add the tomatoes. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 to 15 minutes, then add to the blender. Add the chocolate and the soaked chiles and raisins to the blender along with some of the chile soaking liquid. Puree, adding more soaking liquid as needed, to make a smooth sauce. (This makes about 4 cups sauce, the recipe uses 2 cups, the extra can be frozen).
Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and season it well with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and brown the chicken on all sides; remove the browned chicken to a plate leaving the oil in the pan. Pour 2 cups of the mole sauce into the hot skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and return the chicken pieces to the pan. Simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve over cooked white rice. Garnish everything with cilantro leaves.
Notes (from Temperama):
"I realize that all palates and shopping centers are not created equal, so feel free to mix and match your peppers to suite. You can look up how hot diffrent peppers are here (Scoville scale). I skipped the serrrano on mine and while the sauce was good it was definitly missing something, so keep in mind it is important for your sauce to have a bit of bite.
The sauce is perfectly edible before the final step of adding the chicken broth (or veggie) so give it a taste and change it up as needed for your taste buds.
This sauce is suppose to be smooth, and barring commercial equipment, we are just not going to achieve that perfectly smooth texture, so don't be afraid to blend the heck out of everything.
For those not familar with Mexican chocolate, like Ibarra, it is grainy with cocoa nibs, sugar and cinnamon. While delicious it is not the same as your regular baking chocolate.
Don't forget when working with peppers use care, wash your hands well and frequently and wear gloves, pepper juice in your eye or up your nose is not fun."