Chicken Mole Poblano

Rick Stein's recipe for Chicken Mole Poblano, as seen on his BBC series, The Road to Mexico, is a less sweet variation of this classic Mexican recipe.

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Introduction

I think it’s important to stress that The Road to Mexico is not for purists. I have always had a problem with mole poblano, chilli and chocolate sauce, since I first tasted it in Mexico about 15 years ago and find it is often too sweet for our taste. Yet, I’m not unfamiliar with using chocolate in cooking, and a little in a rich red wine sauce works wonders. What I do like about mole poblano is the mixture of two dried chillies, mulato and pasilla, which gives the sauce a dark roasted fruitiness with just a hint of heat. The original recipe came from a convent in Puebla called the Dominican Convent of Santa Rosa and, by the way, if you are visiting the city it is definitely worth seeing the fabulous Talavera tiles. For gringos, I think my chicken mole is best served as a first course.

Serves 8-10 as a starter

Ingredients

4-5 skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp corn oil
½ tsp salt
toasted sesame seeds. to serve.
For the mole:
16 (about 200g) mulato or ancho chillies
4 pasilla chillies
30g stale baguette or white bread (about 1 slice)
50g sesame seeds
120g blanched almonds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
6 black peppercorns
5cm cinnamon stick
2 tbsp corn oil
1 small ripe plantain or an unripe banana, peeled and sliced
130g raisins or currants
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
pinch of ground cloves
1 tsp oregano
1 ltr chicken stock
100g dark chocolate (70–85% cocoa solids), chopped
1 ½ tsp salt

Essential kit

You will need: a blender.

Instructions

For the mole, rinse and clean the chillies. Remove the membranes, stems and seeds, reserving a few teaspoons of the seeds. Toast the chillies in hot dry frying pan for about 20 seconds until fragrant but not burnt, then soak them in a bowl of just-boiled water for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Toast the bread, reserved chilli seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, coriander seeds, peppercorns and cinnamon stick until fragrant but not burnt. Set them aside to cool, then grind to a powder in a spice grinder.

Heat the corn oil in a separate pan and fry the plantain or banana. Add the raisins or currants and fry briefly, then add the onions and garlic and fry until the mixture is soft and sweet. Put the fried contents of the pan, drained chillies, ground seeds and spices in a blender. Add the cloves, oregano and about 350ml of the chicken stock, then blitz to a smooth sauce.

Wipe out the pan, then add the remaining stock and the chocolate to the pan along with the contents of the blender. Heat through gently for 15–20 minutes until the chocolate has melted and you have a thick dark ‘gravy’. Do not allow it to boil. If the mixture is too thick, add a splash of water. Taste for seasoning and add a little salt if needed.

Coat the chicken breasts in corn oil and season them with salt, then brown them on both sides in a dry frying pan. Reduce the heat and continue to cook through for 10–15 minutes.

Slice the cooked chicken breasts on the diagonal and serve half a breast per person, with the sauce spooned over. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

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