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Chicken tacos Coloradito with roasted arbor chili salsa

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

A good mole is a work of art, it is complex, perfectly balanced with herbs, chilies and spices, takes hours to make and a lifetime to perfect. In my world, when I decide to make a mole, I know I am spending hours in the kitchen followed by a fantastic meal. Most restarants make quick moles, they are tasteles, and do nothing to satisfy the craving. However, you know you are being served a good mole when you can smell the fantastic aroma as soon as you enter the restaurant, or from a few blocks away.

Oaxaca, the capital of the mole world and has 100‘s of mole sauces, including some specific and very secretly guarded recipes by a single family or house. In general, there are 7 ”mother moles", green mole being the lightest, yellow, coloradito, colorado, red, negra and manchamantel, to name a few. Each specific for a type of meat, season or festival. Here is a wonderful article for more information on moles.

The mole Coloradito, means a little color, is a beautiful medium bodied mole with about 15 ingredients including guajillo chilie, sesame seed, plantains, and chocolate. It is a silky, mild mole, that has a perfectly balanced profile, creamy and rich from the seeds and chocolate, a hint of sweet from the chilies, and an soft persistent layer of heat. The poached chicken comes together beautifully with this mole and this is a dish I cannot stop eating!

Diana Kennedy is literally the queen of Mexican cuisine. She has received has received heaps of awards, including the Order of the Aztec Eagle (big in Mexico), and a James Beard Foundation Award (big in food land). In 2002, Prince Charles visited Kennedy at her home to appoint her an MBE, for “furthering cultural relations between the UK and Mexico”. Every cookbook of hers is massive, filled with fantastic recipes and keeps me very happy in the kitchen. This is just the cookbook you want to get into some serious Mexican cooking.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.

For the chicken:

2 lbs chicken meat only, breasts preferred, but thighs will also work fine, cut into 2 inch chunks

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

8 -10 garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 teaspoon oregano, Mexican preferred

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

6-8 black peppercorns

12-15 cilantro stems

4-5 cups water, just enough to cover the ingredients

Salt to taste

Add all ingredients to a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 30-45 minutes till the meat can be pinched and shredded very easily. Remove the chicken pieces and shred. Pinching the chicken pieces should have them fall apart, if not cook for longer. Keep the simmering liquid for the next step. Toss all the other ingredients. Set aside.

For the mole:

12 chili guajillos

2 small tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 +4 tablespoons lard or oil

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 tablespoon oregano, Mexican preferred

2 whole cloves

1 allspice berry

1-inch cinnamon stick

1 medium white onion, finely sliced

10 garlic cloves, sliced

1 small ripe plantain, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

3 slices French or white bread

1 oz Mexican chocolate or dark chocolate

Salt to taste

Remove the stems and seed from the chilies by cutting them in half. Toast lightly on a pan for a few seconds till they turn a dark brown. Careful not to burn them. Soak the chilies in hot water for 30 minutes completely submerged.

Toast the sesame seeds lightly on a small frying pan till lightly browned. Set aside

Toast the cloves, cinnamon stick and allspice berry on the same pan till aromatic and fragrant. Cool completely. Add all the whole spices to a coffee mill and grind into a fine powder. Set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons oil to a pan and fry the onions and garlic till lightly browned. Remove. In the same pan fry the bread till browned. Finally, fry the plantain till lightly colored. Set aside to cool.

Remove the seeds and ribs from the soaked chilies. Add to a blender. Strain the soaking liquid and add to the blender. Also add all the other ingredients and purée to a fine paste. The chilies have a tough skin and you will have to let the blender run for a few minutes. Do not add to much water at this stage, just enough to make a smooth purée without having to scrape the sides down continuously.

Add the 4 tablespoons oil to a deep saucepan and add the purée taking care to scrape every last bit. Add the chocolate. Fry on a medium heat stirring very often till the purée cooks down and the oil begins to rise to the surface and form small pools. Take care the purée does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Taste and adjust for salt if needed. The sauce should be very thick, almost solid at this point.

To finish:

Add the chicken and just enough stock from the chicken to create a thick liquid. You, do not have to use all the stock. Mix well and taste. Cook for an additional 15 minutes so the flavors are absorbed by the chicken shreds. Adjust the consistency to be just sloppy enough. Use in tacos, burritos or quesadillas.

For the vegetarian version:

Use paneer as a substitute for the chicken. Cut paneer into long thin strips. Simmer in the stock for 10-15 minutes. Strain and keep the stock. Mix in with the mole and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Roasted arbor chilli salsa cruda

1 teaspoon olive oil

2-4 arbol chilies, or based on your preference

2 cups tomatoes, ripe and sweet, preferably Roma, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the chilies briefly, till they just start turning a darker color. Careful they burn very easily. Remove and add to a blender with all the other ingredients. Purée till smooth without any water, you want a thick salsa. Taste and adjust salt, vinegar and spice if needed. I always allow the salsa to sit for a few hours for the flavors to develop, or even overnight.

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