Tuesday, January 15, 2008

January 15: Chicken Mole

I'm on drugs. No, seriously. My cough has gotten so bad that I have been throwing up from coughing so hard. My body hurts, from head to hips, from coughing. I am just really not enjoying all of this, and I have never felt quite this awful. But my very kind doctor was nice enough to write a prescription for Phenergan syrup with Codeine. The first I've received when I was throwing up uncontrollably, mostly while pregnant, and it is so powerful that I generally request to be given half the usual dose because it makes me so thoroughly stupid. The second is a narcotic, a painkiller, and I don't mind telling you that I am actually in quite a bit of pain here. I said that already. Oh well. I'm on drugs.

Merseydoats is truly a woman after my own heart, confessing to her addiction to dark chocolate. No worries, Mer, there are much worse addictions you could have. Between that and Kimberly's description earlier this week of Haagen Daas' Mayan Chocolate flavor ice cream has me thinking about chocolate. I love chocolate too.

I also love Mexican food, a love that drew my husband and I together. The Mexicans had the right idea: dark chocolate and peppers and cinnamon are amazing together. My immediate thought was absolutely chicken mole (mo-LAY), chicken in a dark, rich sauce with cinnamon and dark chocolate and lots of other flavors. It is rich and so complex, and so don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients--it comes together really easily, and it just can't be beat.

This recipe comes from a cookbook that I stole from my mother when I first moved out on my own--not college, but afterwards, when I had a kitchen and began to cook for myself. The cookbook is called The Well-Filled Tortilla, and anything you would think of wrapping in a tortilla is included in there, from a simple ground beef taco to wine-simmered vegetables. Their basic chicken fajitas are my go-to recipe for a Mexican meal, This recipe, for chicken mole, takes 40-60 minutes, and serves 4-6. Serve it with corn tortillas.

Chicken Mole

4-5 pounds chicken pieces; a combination of breasts, legs, and thighs
2 dried ancho chile peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch thick strips
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups water
18 corn tortillas

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken pieces in a non-reactive baking dish. Distribute the chili strips and garlic around the chicken. Spread the tomatoes and chocolate pieces over the top of the chicken. Add the oregano, salt, and water.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over and stir the chocolate into the sauce. Bake, turning one more time, until the meat is cooked through and pulls away from the bones, about 35 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a platter to cool.

Separate the chicken meat; discard the skin and bones. Return the meat to the baking pan and mix into the sauce.

Spoon about 1/3 cup of chicken and sauce into the middle of a warmed tortilla. Top with the salsa of your choice and drizzle on a little sour cream if you like. Fold and serve.

Edited: Oh golly, I really am stupid. This is not the authentic Mexican mole I was thinking of. I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that. The one I was thinking of was Rick Bayless' from Mexico: One Plate at a Time and contained somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 ingredients, including nuts, seeds, Mexican cinnamon, and a few other things. This recipe is much simpler and still delicious--although it lacks some of the rich complexity of Bayless' mole.

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