Recipe: Abuelita’s Mole
Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.
Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez is a Mexican conductor and classical pianist who happens to be associated with one of my favorite clients in the city. Last Sunday he performed a recital as part of a fundraiser and yours truly was asked to cater the luncheon. Since I am of Mexican heritage I suggested a Mexican fiesta, which was unanimously approved. So now that I opened my boca grande, I knew I had to pull out all the stops to impress an authentic Mexican. This proved to be not too terribly tough an assignment as I took a page from my Mexican abuelita’s cookbook and made her unbelievably thick, rich, smoky, creamy, spicy, nutty, chocolatey mole. It made me want to share what is one of the most deliciosa dishes on earth. (And mole can be frozen so make lots of keep some of it in the freezer.) It’s one of those sauces you can imagine eating with everything. Buen apetito! And muchas gracias Eppie Rodriguez. You were one hell of a cook and an always smiling and loving abuela.
Lisa Fielding’s Abuelita’s Mole
3 tablespoons (or more) peanut oil (preferably unrefined), divided
5 pounds chicken thighs
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups orange juice
1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6 large garlic cloves, sliced
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
4 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 ounces dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
1 ounce dried negro chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
1/4 cup raisins
4 3 x 1/2-inch strips orange peel (orange part only)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 3.1-ounce disk Mexican chocolate, chopped
½ cup creamy peanut butter
Chopped fresh cilantro
Warm flour tortillas
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously salt and pepper chicken thighs. Place in a roasting pan in a single layer and cook until nearly done – 45 minutes. Add broth and orange juice and cook for another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add almonds, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Sauté until nuts and garlic begin to color, about 2 minutes. Add chiles and stir until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Pour chicken cooking liquid into saucepan with onion mixture (reserve pot). Add raisins, orange peel, and oregano to saucepan. Cover and simmer until chiles are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand until chocolate melts and sauce mixture cools slightly, about 15 minutes.
Working in small batches, transfer sauce mixture and peanut butter to blender and puree until smooth; return to reserved pot. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Sauce can be made 3 days ahead.) Add chicken thighs to pot and pour in sauce. Heat until bubbling. Serve with saffron rice, black chipotle beans and warm tortillas. Garnish with fresh cilantro.