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Chicken with mole costeño

The art of mole is complex and old. Mole is originally thought to have been created in Mexico's Oaxaca or Puebla regions. The actual origin of the word can be traced back to the Nahuatl word "mulli," which translates as "sauce". It traces a long history to pre-Colomian times and is a dish that has put Mexican cuisine on the world map. There are seven master moles, but in reality, the dish has thousands of variations, making it a truly "infinitesimal cuisine" as defined by Diana Kennedy.

The soul of a mole is the complexity of chillies, spices, herbs, and nuts. There are simpler 5-6 ingredient moles like the green mole, but the more complex versions have 20+ ingredients, including bitter chocolate. These moles are transformative. The flavour is an explosion on your palate, not necessarily spicy but a sum of all the ingredients in perfect harmony.

This is a lovely, rich mole with complex flavours. The mole's complexity lies in the numerous ingredients that come together beautifully. The sauce is creamy and pops with flavour, and the chicken is enveloped in these flavours. You really do not need much more to accompany this dish, but you can serve it with Mexican rice, tacos, cheese, and/or refried beans. However, I love it plain, so I can appreciate the complexity of the sauce.

Diana Kennedy is the queen of Mexican cuisine. For her contribution to Mexican cuisine and her work in the region, she has received Mexico’s Order of the Aztec Eagle and membership in the Order of the British Empire. I have quite a few of her books; they are amazing and a must for anyone who wants to deep-dive into Mexican cuisine. This book encompasses all the regions in Mexico and is filled with exciting recipes, just like this one.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the chicken:

1 large chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

8 cups water

Salt, to taste

For the Mole:

9 ancho chillies

25 costeño chillies or arbol chillies

8 guajillo chillies

1 1/2 cups water

12 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon Mexican oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

10 almonds

1/2 cup raisins

1 small ripe plantain, peeled and diced

1 lb tomatoes

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons lard or olive oil





Add all the ingredients for the chicken to a pot and bring to a boil. Scoop off the scum. Simmer gently for 45 minutes till the chicken is very tender. Set aside to cool.

Toast the ancho, costeño/arbol, and guajillo chillies individually, pressing down on them until you see faint wisps of smoke. Remove and cool. Submerge in 1 1/2 cups of warm water to soften for 30 minutes.

Heat an oven to 375 ° F.

Layer the tomatoes and garlic on a lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes for the garlic and about 30 minutes for the tomatoes. Remove and cool. Peel the tomatoes. Set aside.

Remove the stems and seeds from the ancho and guajillo chillies when the chillies are soft. Stem the arbol chillies, leaving the seeds. Strain the soaking liquids through a fine mesh sieve and set aside for use.

Add all the ingredients and some of the soaking liquids to a blender. Blitz on high until you have a very smooth paste.

Heat a deep pot and add the lard. Cook until the fats have been rendered. Add the mole and the soaking liquids and bring to a boil. The mole will splutter, staining everything. Cook on low heat for 1 hour until the mole is thick and has a lovely sheen on the surface. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

There are a few options to proceed from this point:

You can serve the mole and chicken separately. Add some of the hot mole onto a plate and top with a piece of chicken. Serve with accompaniments.

Alternatively, you can add the chicken to the mole and cook for 10 minutes. Serve with accompaniments.

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