Adventures in Cookery: Grilled Chicken Mole
We planted mole peppers in the garden this year, alongside the usual crops of tomatoes, bells, and heavy-duty herbs. We didn’t really know what to expect – L’s never had mole before, and the few times I have, I wasn’t blown away by it. But that’s why these are … Adventures in Cookery!
I used this recipe from Nichols Farm as a baseline and made the following immediate changes:
Healthy canola spray
2 cups chopped onions
5 ripe Holy Mole peppers, deseeded & chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
1/4 cup raisins, chopped
4 tsp Texas-style chili powder
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups chicken broth
2 large chopped, peeled tomatoes
.5 oz. dark unsweetened chocolate
.5 oz. dark sweetened chocolate with ancho powder
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Corn tortilla, lightly toasted and shredded
As always, I started by thanking the house leshies and spirits for the chance to do the things I love most, and set up a small dish for them to get the first bites of everything I cut up.
The onions, garlic and raisins all went into the food processor after the initial cuttings, while the mole peppers were sliced by hand. I wanted to get a feel for them, since I hadn’t worked with them before. I did notice that the peppers weren’t really the reddish-brown that they’re meant to be, which meant I was probably moving too quickly. For the first time in my life.
In the end, I decided to go ahead, and call this a “young mole sauce,” much as illicit moonshiners might sell “young whiskey” or Wisconsinites might sell “fruit wine.”
All four of these ingredients were sauteed in the canola spray. Meanwhile, L was kind enough to come in and teach me how to peel tomatoes in salted water. I had no idea, and likely would have wound up either a) not peeling them at all, or b) making a much, much bigger mess of the kitchen than I typically do. If one can imagine such a thing.
This was actually a big step for Adventures in Cookery! In that I didn’t get all high and mighty insisting that god damn it I know how to peel a tomato woman will you get back to watching your stories* on the teevee already. Which tends to be a problem, especially when she is such a fantastic cook already.
At the same time, we experimented with toasting the corn tortilla. Initially I took the coward’s path and tried to toast it in the oven at 315 degrees on an aluminum pan, but in the end that turned out to be a bit of a bust. So we took the bolder step of laying the tortilla directly on the burner, fire extinguisher at the ready in case of fire and rum available in case of painful burns.
We lost one tortilla to the burning, but the second turned out perfect. We were able to use the center of it to scrape all the peanut butter off the tablespoons when we assembled everything, so double-bonus!
In went the rest of the ingredients, though at this point we had not yet added the sweet chili chocolate. After sauteeing the sauce for about fifteen minutes, I felt the sharp bitterness of the unsweetened chocolate and cinnamon needed something to leaven it, which is when L suggested using a bit of one of her specialty candy bars. We used just a bit at first, but getting bolder proved the final bit! I tossed in a few sliced jalepeno peppers to bump up the heat factor, threw the sauce into the blender, and we were ready to prepare the chicken.
We decided to go very simple for the chicken thighs, since the sauce was so complex. We just sprayed them down with smoked Tabasco and hot chili pepper sauce, then threw them on the direct heat of the grill for six minutes a side before moving them to indirect heat – we had picked up a guest by that point, who needed to grill up her salmon, and so the chicken thighs rested while the fish was cooked up.
Coming inside, we shredded the thighs and each assembled our own tortilla-based meal, with sauce to taste.
Victory! If not flawless victory! Next time I will make the following adjustments:
1) Corn tortillas are fine in the sauce, but I don’t care for the texture when they’re around the food. Next time it’s over the rice, or on flour tortillas.
2) I’d love to try sauteeing the mole sauce on the grill while the chicken is cooking, then shred the meat up into the sauce itself. I think that’s going to help keep a stable temperature as well as a more authentic texture.
3) Next time: Pork. The chicken thighs were fantastic but the idea of a nice, smokey pork roast shredded into the mole sauce makes my mouth water.
Thanks for watching! Let me know if you try the recipe yourself, or better yet … write about it!
* – Note: The fact that L’s “stories” are mostly programs on quantum physics or quasars is beside the point for comedy purposes.
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