Reyna’s Oaxacan Chicken Mole
Reyna’s version of Chicken Mole is one she learned from her mother in a tiny Triqui village in the Oaxacan mountains. The mole sauce is rich and complex; each of the four different chiles adds a separate level of flavor. Reyna serves her Chicken Mole with Tomato Rice and a refreshing glass of melon juice (fresh melon puréed in a blender). Reyna toasts all the ingredients on a comal or stove-top griddle to deepen their tastes. To simplify the recipe, you can toast chiles and nuts in the oven. Using a pressure cooker for the chicken, as Reyna does, saves energy and cooking time. When shopping for this recipe, be aware that trying to sort out chile names can be confusing. In California, ancho chiles are known as pasilla chiles, while everywhere else pasilla chiles are negro chiles, not anchos. In this recipe, I’ve used the chile names used in Anchorage markets; all four chiles can be found at Fred Meyer stores and at Red Apple.
Chicken and Chicken Stock:
12 chicken drumsticks or thighs
2 quarts water
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
10 black peppercorns
6 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
4 dried negro chiles, stems and seeds removed
8 dried puya chiles, stems removed
8 dried arbol chiles, stems removed
1/4 cup raw unpeeled almonds
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
6 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
4 fresh tomatillos, unpeeled (may substitute canned tomatillos)
1 Tbsp. Mexican oregano
2 whole cloves
2 whole allspice berries
2 – 3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. lard or vegetable oil
Make the Chicken Stock/Cook the Chicken: Wash chicken pieces. If using pressure cooker, put chicken and all stock ingredients in cooker and cook under pressure for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is very tender, but not falling off the bone. If not using pressure cooker, put all ingredients in large pot, bring to a boil, cover tightly, turn heat down to low, and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until chicken is very tender, but not falling off the bone. Remove chicken from pot, strain stock into large bowl, and discard solid ingredients.
While chicken is cooking, Make the Mole Sauce: Preheat oven to 325°F.
Spread chiles on baking sheet and roast in oven until you can smell chiles cooking and they’re nicely toasted, about 8 minutes. Don’t walk away from oven; if chiles cook too long and burn (which can happen quickly), they’re garbage. On the other hand, for mole to have a deep rich flavor, chiles must be toasted (not just heated through); don’t take them out of oven prematurely. Put toasted chiles in blender.
Spread almonds on baking sheet. Put sesame seeds in small oven-proof baking dish and place dish on baking sheet with almonds. Roast for 8-10 minutes, or until almonds and sesame seeds are toasted. Put toasted almonds and sesame seeds in blender with chiles.
Heat flat griddle or cast iron pan over medium-high. Put unpeeled garlic and tomatillos on griddle and cook, turning frequently, until vegetables soften all over and their skins brown. (If using canned tomatillos, they don’t need to be grilled.) Garlic takes 6-8 minutes to cook and tomatillos take 12-15 minutes. Remove from griddle; when cool enough to handle, peel garlic and tomatillos and add to blender with chiles.
Quickly toast oregano, cloves, and allspice on griddle and add to blender.
When chicken and stock have finished cooking, add 2 cups stock, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to blender. Blend until very smooth, adding more stock if necessary to get desired consistency (sauce shouldn’t be watery, but also shouldn’t be like a paste). If blender isn’t powerful enough to break down chile seeds and skin, run sauce through food mill or sieve.
Complete Chicken Mole: Heat lard or vegetable oil in sauté pan. Add mole sauce and cook, stirring regularly, for 20-30 minutes. If sauce gets too thick, add a little chicken stock. Just before serving, add chicken pieces and gently stir to coat chicken with sauce. Serve immediately with Tomato Rice.