It seems that when we get close to the end of summer, my thoughts are of soups, stews and braising. And along with those also comes my cravings for a good chicken mole dish. For a few months now, I had been thinking about these wonderful recado’s (spice blend paste) that my friend Norma had sent me from her trip to Yucatan, Mexico. I was not quite sure what I wanted to prepare. Included in this basket full of spices, were a red recado, green recado and a black recado. Recado rojo, verde y negro. Recado is a blend of chiles, spices, herbs and vinegar. They can be combine with a good homemade stock to make a sauce or blended with oil to create different marinades. The one I found most intriguing was the recado negro. The ingredients listed are, charred chiles (ancho and chile de arbol), garlic, cumin, oregano and vinegar. I automatically thought of mole negro. And that’s just 1/3 of a delicious mole. Along with the chile as a base, you also need the aromatics, nuts, seeds, and spices. And of course the Mexican chocolate! If you are lucky enough to live in a city where you can purchase authentic recado, this cuts out one majaor step for preparing mole. But if you don’t, there are ways around. All you need is a good source for dried chiles, such as chile ancho, pasilla, arbol and guajillo. For today’s blog, I share with you how to prepare a mole negro using an already made recado. For my next post, I will show you how you can prepare your own homemade recado. Specifically the recado negro and recado rojo.
Mole Negro~Prepared With Recado
Olive oil or oil of choice
3 corn tortillas, diced
3 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 medium white or red onion, chopped
2 serrano peppers, stems removed and sliced
6 to 8 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/3 cup raisins
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
3 ounce brick of recado negro
10 cups chicken stock or broth
*if using store bought chicken broth, I add 1 full tablespoon of caldo de pollo(chicken bouillon granules) It adds flavor.
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds, and more for garnish
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon anise seeds
2 inch piece Mexican cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, 2 to 3 bay leaves
*1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 chipotles in adobo
1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter or half cup unsalted peanuts
1 disk of Mexican chocolate (Abuelita brand), broken into pieces
Brown Sugar, optional
*Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Tips~The recado is prepared with charred chiles, such as chile ancho, chile de arbol, garli, oregano, cumin and vinegar. This specific recado negro is used to prepare a popular dish in Mexico known as chilmole with turkey.
Tips~This is the quick way to add flavor. I chose to saute in a pan instead of roasting or charring these ingredients over the direct flame.
Tips~ Don’t pass up this step, whichever way you decide to cook them. It adds so much flavor.
Tips~ If adding the chicken to the mole, you will need 4 1/2 to 5 pounds of chicken pieces(bone- in) from a whole chicken. If using boneless chicken thighs, I added 3 1/2 to 4 pounds. Cook as directed. I used boneless chicken thighs.
If you would like to add whole peppercorns to the mix, you can.
Variation~ In the past, I have also added these ingredients to my Mole recipe. On this day, I used what I had available.
Toasted pepitas(pumpkin seeds), 1/4 cup, 1 yellow plantain, 1/2 a toasted bolillo roll, 10 saltine crackers(instead of the bolillo)
1. To prepare the mole sauce with recado: In a large(deep pot) preheat 4 tablespoons of oil to medium heat for a few minutes. When it’s hot, add the diced tortillas and cook until crisp. Add the tomatoes, onions, serrano and garlic. Reduce heat slightly and cook until the vegetables begin to char. This will take a few minutes. Add the raisins to the mix and cook for 3 more minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. In a separate non stick pan add almonds, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, anise seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, oregano and bay leaves. Heat to medium/low. When the pan becomes hot and the nuts and spices become aromatic, stir often. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes, stirring as needed. Transfer the mixture to a spice/coffee grinder. I use my coffee grinder only for spices. Pulse to grind until it looks like a powder.
3. In the blender, combine the tortilla/veggie mix, the recado negro, 3 cups of broth, ground spices and peanut butter. Blend on high until smooth. Taste for salt. At this point, you can strain this sauce using a wire mesh strainer for an extra smooth finish. I did not strain it. With the recado, you do not get the skins from the chiles like when using whole dried chiles.
4. Preheat 3 tablespoons of oil to medium heat for 5 minutes. Pour the mole sauce from the blender into the hot oil. At this point you are searing the sauce for a few minutes. Add all of the remaining broth and stir well to combine. Reduce heat to a simmer and while it’s simmering, add the broken pieces of Mexican chocolate. Stir to melt. Some people like the mole sauce a little sweeter, so they add piloncillo or dark brown sugar. That is up to you. If adding, add just a little at a time, tasting in between. Cover and continue to cook at a low simmer for a good hour If the mole sauce gets too thick, add a little more broth.
5.While the sauce is simmering, If you want to add chicken to the mole, season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes on both sides. In a large skillet, preheat 1/4 cup of oil to medium heat for 5 minutes. Sear the chicken for 5 minutes per side and add it to the simmering mole sauce. Continue cooking until chicken is tender and sauce reduces and thickens slightly. If you have the time, let it simmer on low for 2 hours. Garnish the mole with toasted sesame seeds, serve with rice, beans and warm tortillas. Yields up to 8 servings.
Tips~ When mom prepared mole, she would poach the bone-in chicken pieces. When the chicken was cooked and stock was reduced, she would pour the mole sauce directly into this pot and let is cook on low for another hours. Chef’s choice. That’s what makes the recipe your own. Enjoy the process.
Tips~ Even though the recado already contained garlic, cumin and oregano, It still needs more spices to create a flavorful mole.
Toasted Sesame Seeds Are a Must!
Tips~ The classic pairing for mole are Mexican red rice and beans.
On the next blog post, I will share with you how to use the leftover mole negro to prepare this delicious dish of Enmoladas!
Sharing with you on this post a great video on You Tube from Chef Alex Perez. It’s in Spanish, but you can watch the mole preparing process, step by step. Thanks Chef Alex Perez!