Without a doubt, one of the most famous Mexican dishes of all time is the notorious chocolate mole, or ‘mole poblano de guajolote.’ However, the origins of this dish appear to be in dispute. As Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz writes in her “The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking” (1967):
“Legend has it that the nuns of the Convent of Santa Rosa invented the dish in early colonial times to honor a visiting viceroy and archbishop. Nothing could be more unlikely, especially after a glance at the complex list of ingredients. Although one can only speculate, what may have happened is that, on hearing the guests were with the high priest, the Indian girls at the Convent gave the nuns what is clearly a royal recipe. There would have been no reason for the girls to have mentioned the dish before, since among the Aztecs chocolate was forbidden to women, and among men was reserved for royalty, the military nobility, and the higher ranks of the clergy.”
However, contemporary food criticism seems to have debunked this popular myth that the Aztecs cooked with chocolate, positing the famous chocolate mole as a far more recent addition to the culinary heritage of Mexico:
“The idea of using chocolate as a flavoring in cook food would have been horrifying to the Aztecs–just as Christians could not conceive of using communion wine to make, say, coq au vin. In all of the pages of Sahagun that deal with Aztec cuisine and with chocolate, there is not a hint that it ever entered into an Aztec dish. (“True History of Chocolate” by Sophie D. Coe & Michael D. Coe, 1996)
Regardless, hailed as the ‘national dish’ of Mexico, it’s clear the chocolate mole is here to stay no matter what its origins may be. There is ample culinary treasure to unearth in Ortiz’s James Beard Award winning cookbook however, there is arguably no recipe more significant than the ‘Mole Poblano de Guajolote.’ Which is not the recipe I am going to share with you today. Make no mistake, the classic mole poblano is a wonderful dish that I enjoyed both making and eating. But, as a spicy food lover, it was the ‘Mole Poblano Picante’ its spicy counterpart that won me over. Very similar in execution to the classic mole poblano, this tweaked recipe adds a hefty portion of chipotle chiles to the mix along with a slight change here and there. The end result is something that I find just a little more engaging than the traditional mole, although in truth both dishes are phenomenal and worthy of your attention. Traditionally made with turkey, I have adjusted this recipe for chicken and reduced the measurements by half.
4 mulato chiles
2 ancho chiles
2 pasilla chiles
1 chicken, sectioned into pieces
2 tbsp lard, or oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tortilla, cut into slices
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 ground anise
1/4 cup raisins
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
2-3 canned chipotle chiles
1 oz unsweetened dark baker’s chocolate
- De-seed dried mulato, ancho, and pasilla chiles and pour boiling water over them, soak until tender. Drain and re-peat boiling water if necessary. Roughly 1 hour.
- Poach chicken in salted water for 1 hour and then pat dry. Reserve stock.
- Fry chicken in lard until brown on all sides. Keep lard and skillet.
- In a food processor or electric blender, blend 1 tbsp sesame seeds, onion, garlic, tortilla, almonds, cloves, coriander, anise, raisins, tomatoes, re-hydrated chiles and chipotle until coarse. If too thick add some of the chicken stock.
- Add more lard if necessary to skillet. Add puree and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of chicken stock, chocolate, salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp of sugar and cook over low heat until chocolate has melted.
- Remove meat from chicken and add to sauce, simmer for 1 hour.
- Consistency should be rather thick, however you may add extra chicken stock to thin it out if you feel the need.
- Garnish with sesame seeds.