Once Upon A Time…There was Chicken Mole

Back a few years, there was a movie by Robert Rodriguez, “Once Upon A Time in Mexico”.  It was the third, and final installment of the Rodriguez “El Mariachi” trilogy.  Starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Eva Mendes and Mickey Rourke, this was kind of an “over the top”, all over the place, high-octane adventurous flick that could become a guilty pleasure for many movie fans.  A good movie?  I guess it depends on how you define “good”.  Did I mention it has Salma Hayek?

Not sure how good it is, but I did enjoy it.  It had a lot of things in it that I seem to enjoy…Depp, action, sarcasm, tequila and Hayek.  It kind of reminds me of a dinner I recently made for Diana…a belated Valentine dinner.  The dinner I prepared was also, kind of all over the place, a little high-octane and, of course, there was some tequila involved…

I decided to take on a recipe I saw in a local publication,”Feast” magazine.  (I mentioned it a few posts back when I spoke of the Chocolate Souffle’ that the “guys” could make as a Valentine’s surprise)  This is typically not an easy dish to make, but the recipe was easy to follow.  It is “Chicken Mole”.  Actually, a dish I do not think I have ever ordered when we eat out.  But it is on almost every fine Mexican restaurant’s menu I have ever visited.  So it must be popular.  “Why make this recipe, you might say?”  It was a belated Valentine’s dinner…and it has CHOCOLATE!

Chicken Mole has become a symbol of Mexico’s indigenous heritage, with a nod to the ingredients from three continents, North America, Europe and Africa.  There are several legends surrounding the origin of this dish, all of which speak to poverty, prayer and many ingredients coming together to form one simply amazing dish…(see comment above: all over the place)

So, here is the recipe from Feast magazine.  This is from the good people at Schnucks markets and this recipe serves about 6 people.


  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • cinnamon stick, broken
  • 3 whole coriander seeds
  • 2 whole allspice berries
  • ¼ tsp black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp whole cloves
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 6- to 7-lb roasting chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I took the easy way on this and used breasts and thighs instead of cutting a whole chicken)
  • 2 cups chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup croutons
  • 3 oz Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra) or milk chocolate, chopped
  • 12 dried mulato chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles
  • 2 cups turkey stock, divided (I used chicken stock)
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp almond butter or peanut butter (I used almond butter)
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1¼ tsp kosher salt
  • Preparation: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place sesame seeds, cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, allspice, peppercorns and cloves in a large dry skillet and toast over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Do not burn. Add marjoram, stir for another minute and set aside. When cooled, place in spice grinder and process to a fine powder. Rub spice mixture all over chicken and set aside for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine tomatoes, croutons and chocolate. Set aside.

Place mulato, poblano, ancho and chipotle chiles in food processor with ½ cup stock. Purée until smooth.

Put processed chiles into a large bowl and process the tomato mixture. Combine tomato and chile mixtures with 1 cup stock.

In same skillet used to toast spices, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Mix in almond butter and stir to incorporate. Add tomato-chile mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Add remaining ½ cup stock, brown sugar and salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté chicken in batches on all sides until nicely browned. Once all chicken is browned, return to pan and cover with sauce. Simmer until sauce is heated through. Cover and bake until tender, about 1 hour. With about 7 minutes to go, I added some Cotija cheese on top of the mixture.  It melted and gave it a nice creamy finish.

All in all, this may have taken about 60 – 90 minutes or so…but it was well worth it.

There are a lot of ways you can help the time move along while you are preparing a wonderful meal like this…playing some good music is one of them.  Another one is to pour yourself a good cocktail.  I can do both pretty well.  And since I was already “South of the Border” (wink-wink) I figured, why not stay there and enjoy the scenery???  So, tequila it was!!

And you can do so many things with tequila…other than “shoot” it.  As I will show you over the next several months, it is a very versatile liqueur that has gotten a nasty name along the way…kinda like that pet dog.  The one who greets you like a rock star when you come home…wags the hell out of their tail because they are happy to see you…makes you smile and feel warm inside, until you step in something warm on the carpet.  Yeah, tequila can be sumpin’ like that…unless you are careful.  Ya’ gotta know when to stop.  It has to be enjoyed responsibly, but enjoy it you must.

This tequila based drink is not something most people would order up the next time out.  But I encourage you to try it…in the comfort of your home or in a comfortable booth at a bar or restaurant.  If you try it, and you don’t like it, I will make you a special drink of your choice the next time you are at my house…just call before you show up!  Always welcomed.

Rude Boy

  • 1.5 ounces of Blanco Tequila
  • .5 ounces Green Chartreuse
  • pinch of Cayenne pepper
  • Mix all ingredients in a shaker with cracked ice, pour all into a short glass

This cocktail is a variation on one by Gary Regan.  The difference is that he sprinkles the cayenne pepper on top.  I like to mix it up in the drink itself.  That provides a little spice throughout the drink.  He also prefers his strained into a sherry copita glass.  Again, I like the ice in it.  It takes a little edge off of the Tequila and softens the Chartreuse a bit.

So, there you have it.  A classic traditional Mexican dish for dinner and a (perhaps) new classic drink to enjoy with it.  And if you really got your “Amigo” on, go ahead and watch “Once Upon A Time in Mexico”, again, for the first time.  Come to think of it…the movie, the dinner and the drink are all high-octane and all over the place…flavors and intensity emphasized.

Lesson of the day…it is okay if your life, your meal and your drink is high-octane and all over the place.  Just make sure at day’s end…you are the one in control of your actions.  Make sure you enjoy your life and enjoy those you share it with…Ole’.  Buenas Noches Mis Amigos

Published in: on March 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great blog, John!


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