…from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? We hope you had a terrific 4th of July holiday with lots of family, friends, great food and fun!
Chocolate Chicken? Are you kidding? No, it’s a real Mexican dish. An authentic Mexican dish where the chicken is slow cooked in a delectable sauce of chiles with a rich, never overpowering, bitter chocolate background. It is truly wonderful served with warm corn tortillas, rice and beans. It may be a bit messy to make, but well worth the effort.
Two states in Mexico claim to be the origin of mole—Puebla and Oaxaca. The best-known moles are native to these two states, but other regions in Mexico also make different types of mole-style sauces. Moles come in various flavors and diverse ingredients, with chile peppers as the common ingredient.
The classic mole version is the variety called mole poblano, which is a dark red or brown sauce served over meat. The dish has become a culinary symbol of Mexico's mestizaje, or mixed indigenous and European heritage, both for the types of ingredients it contains and because of the legends surrounding its origin.
One common legend of its creation takes place at the Convent of Santa Clara in Puebla early in the colonial period. Upon hearing that the archbishop was going to visit, the convent nuns panicked because they were poor and had almost nothing to prepare. The nuns prayed and brought together the little bits of what they did have, including chile peppers, spices, day-old bread, nuts, and a little chocolate. They killed an old turkey, cooked it and put the sauce on top; the archbishop loved it. When one of the nuns was asked the name of the dish, she replied, "I made a mole." Mole is an archaic word for mix; now this word mostly refers to this dish and is rarely used to signify other kinds of mixes in Spanish.
A similar version of the story says that monk Fray Pascual invented the dish, again to serve to the archbishop of Puebla. In this version, spices were knocked over or blown over into pots in which chickens were cooking. What we do know is there is nothing like a good mole.
Modern mole is a mixture of ingredients from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia making it one of the first intercontinental dishes created in the Americas. Its base, however, is indigenous. Nahuatl speakers had a preparation they called mōlli, meaning "sauce", or chīlmōlli ([t͡ʃiːlˈmoːlːi]) for chili sauce. In the book General History of the Things of New Spain, Bernardino de Sahagún says that mōllis were used in several dishes, including those for fish, game and vegetables.
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
4 dried mulato chiles (dried poblanos)
4 dried ancho chiles
4 dried guajillo chiles
4 dried pasilla chilies
2 teaspoons lard, or more as needed
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (7 inch) flour tortilla
2 (5 inch) corn tortillas
1 plantain, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup peanuts
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1 (14 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablet of Mexican chocolate, such as Abuelita or Ibarra
1 whole chicken, washed and cleaned
ChefSecret: Always wear gloves and be sure to wash your hands very well before going to the restroom to prevent serious burns to your private parts—no kidding. A chile burn down there can ruin your whole day.
Quip of the Day: “A word to the wise isn’t necessary… it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.”
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