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Olé mole

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Even if I were given an authentic recipe for a mole and the secret ingredient was whispered to me by a doña from Mexico, I don't know if I would call my red sauce a mole.

That's moot anyway since I didn't get the recipe for the mole sauce below in any secret meeting; I simply adapted one from a book. The chocolate in it has always fascinated me, and I thought it would be a good time to try it with the can of chipotle in adobo sauce my sister had brought from America when she was here on her last visit.

I have to admit, after I made the sauce, I wasn't impressed. It had an insipid colour – not a fiery red as I assumed it would be. It tasted fine, but fine doesn't wow me. I added more of the hot chilli and adobo sauce but it still seemed bland. But I put it into a container and refrigerated it after it cooled.

The next day, it looked like it had thickened but was still as unimpressive as the day before. I went ahead and prepared the chicken thighs I was slow-cooking and then added some of the sauce to the crockpot with the chicken and an onion cut into wedges. I switched on the cooker, and got ready for bed (I don't know why I started cooking this so late at night).

The next morning, through the bedroom door came an aroma that got me straight out of bed. Out in the kitchen/living room, it was more intense. In the crockpot, the sauce had become a glaze around the chicken thighs. Bits of it were dark and caramelised, and sticking to the inside of the pot. The top layer was still bubbling. The meat of the chicken fell off the bone as I picked a thigh up with tongs.

I spooned out some sauce and tasted it. The creaminess of the nuts came through and had intensified, and so had the heat from the chilli. There was a certain sweetness to it although as you can see from the recipe, there is no sugar in it, so I can't explain that.

This sauce completely changed from the time it was made to the time it came out of the crockpot. Fantastic.

Doesn't look like much, does it? 
(Adapted from 500 Mexican Dishes)
Makes about 475ml

1 large thick slice of stale bread, cubed
150ml milk
170g blanched almonds
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
2-2½ tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
30g dark chocolate
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
100ml chicken stock
1 400g tin tomatoes, with juice
Salt to taste
Cooking oil
  • Place bread cubes in a small bowl and add the milk. Leave aside to soak until bread is soft.
  • Blend bread and milk with almonds, pumpkin seeds, chipotle, cinnamon and chocolate using a food processor or hand blender until puréed but grainy.
  • Heat a little oil in a large deep skillet and sweat celery and onions. Add puréed ingredients, stock and tinned tomatoes, and simmer, stirring, over medium heat, until chocolate melts and the flavours have blended, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. If not hot enough, add more of the adobo sauce.
  • Take sauce off heat and blend in a food processor or using a hand blender until smooth. Return to heat and cook, stirring, until it starts to bubble again, about 5 minutes.
To make Slow-cooked Chicken in Red Sauce for two, heat some oil in a pan, and brown four chicken drumsticks, about 5 minutes. Place chicken, 1 medium onion cut into wedges and about ¾ cup mole sauce in the crockpot. Add enough water to just cover the chicken pieces and stir gently to mix. Cook on low for 6 hours.

The chicken can also be cooked in the oven. Preheat oven to 170°C. After browning chicken in an oven-proof skillet or pan with a lid, stir in red sauce and water, cover and place in the oven and cook chicken until tender, 3-4 hours.

If you can't get chipotle in adobo sauce, any kind of hot chilli could work although I haven't tried that. I would grind/pound the chilli and fry it in a little oil before using.



  1. I havent done any slow cooking for so long I wondered if my slow cooker is still in working condition? This dish reminds me to check out my cooker lol! Those chicken thighs look delicious if you ask me!

  2. Thanks Jeannie. I only recently started using a slow cooker and I like it a lot! Especially since it is so easy to make stews and soups. I hope your cooker still works! :-0


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