Chicken Mole Poblano

 

Mole 10

Living in San Diego part of the year, I have been spoiled with the variety of fresh and dried chili peppers that are sold in supermarkets, including the sweet and smoky ancho chile and the red fruity guajillo, both used in making the tasty Mexican dish, Chicken Mole Poblano.

This dish produces a rich reddish-brown sauce filled with spices, chilies, nuts and a hint of chocolate. Legend has it that the dish was invented at the convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla, Mexico. When the nuns heard that the archbishop was going to visit the convent, they panicked and ‘threw together’ bits and pieces of whatever they could find: chili peppers, bread, spices, nuts and even chocolate. This sounds like it could be called an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ sort of dish.

This is not an everyday sort of dish, but is usually reserved for special occasions such as birthdays. Some cooks use up to 30 ingredients for their Mole Poblano and spend all day making it. Some have added plantains, tomatillos and even toasted pumpkin seeds to their Poblano dish.  But that sounds a bit over the top for me: I use about 15 ingredients and it takes me about 45 minutes to make the sauce and another 1 hour for the cooking.

To be honest, some people are turned off by the thick brown color of the sauce, but I can’t help licking the spoon as I make this dish. And sshhh, (don’t tell anyone) I use a little peanut butter in my recipe instead of ground peanuts. I learned this recipe tip from a Mexican restaurant in Borrego Springs, California.

To make the mole sauce, the tomatoes are first roasted in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes, then the white cores are removed. Next, the ancho and guajillo dried chilies are toasted for a few minutes on the stove top, then soaked in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes to re-hydrate. You could also used chili powders for this dish but the taste would not be the same.

These ingredients are then added to a blender along with onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, raisins and piece of stale bread. The seasonings, Mexican chocolate and peanut butter are then added and the sauce and chicken pieces are finally baked together in the oven.

Be sure and adjust the seasoning as you go; if you like your food spicy, add a few more chilies to the dish. If you find the Mexican chocolate a bit bitter, then add a dash of sugar. And you don’t need to wait for a visit from the archbishop to serve this dish- your family and friends should love it too!

Chicken pieces covered with mole sauce, ready for baking in the oven.

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Chicken Mole Polblano
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch or dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A classic Mexican dish- chicken pieces covered in a rich brown sauce made with chilies, spices, Mexican chocolate and peanut butter.
Ingredients
  • Main Ingredients:
  • 4 -5 pieces of chicken thighs, bone in
  • 2 Tbsps. olive oil
  • Sauce:
  • 2 Ancho Chiles, dried
  • 2 Guajillo Chiles, dried
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 large tomatoes, roasted
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • ¼ cup raisins, heated and ‘plumped up’
  • 1 piece of stale bread or baguette
  • 1 tbsp dried coriander
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 40 grams Mexican chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Chicken stock (enough to cover the chicken pieces)
  • Garnish:
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Parsley sprigs
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat broiler oven to 400 F. Slice tomatoes in half, place on baking tray lined with parchment paper, sprinkle pieces with olive oil and salt. Place on top oven rack and roast for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes soften and some juices start to appear in the tray. Be careful not to burn the tomatoes. Remove from oven and set aside. (Note: you could also add a few tomatillos to the roasting pan if you wish).
  2. To prepare the Ancho and Guajillo dried chilies: place them on a dry fry pan over medium-high heat and press down with a spatula for one minute until they soften and start to change color, turn the chilies over and press down for one more minute. Remove from heat, cut the chilies open and remove the seeds. Chop roughly into pieces.
  3. Place the chilies in 1 cup of very hot water to soften, let soak for 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Chop the onion, garlic pieces, and jalapeno pepper. Heat some olive oil in a fry pan over medium high heat, place the ingredients in the fry pan and heat for several minutes until soft. Remove from pan; heat the raisins in the pan for several minutes until they ‘plump up.’
  5. In a blender, add the roasted tomatoes, the chilies along with the soaking liquid, onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper , raisins and bread. Blend for several minutes until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Transfer the sauce to a sauce pan. Add the dried coriander, cinnamon, cloves, peanut butter and Mexican chocolate. Stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. Add salt to taste. Add a pinch of sugar if you prefer the sauce a little sweeter. Set aside.
  7. Brown the chicken pieces: first remove any excess skin from the chicken thighs and sprinkle salt on both sides of the chicken. Place several tablespoons of oil in a fry pan; over medium high heat, brown the chicken pieces on both sides for several minutes. Let drain on some kitchen paper.
  8. Place the chicken pieces in a casserole dish or Dutch oven, cover the pieces with the Mole sauce. Add a splash of chicken stock to ‘moisten’ the mixture.
  9. Bake for about one hour until the chicken becomes tender.
  10. Place on individual serving plates. Top with some toasted sesame seeds and a few parsley sprigs.

 

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Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Tagine

Three years ago I bought a tagine, mainly to be used as a photographic prop. It sat in storage for several years, until I decided to take it out to cook a Moroccan chicken stew. Now I am absolutely hooked- I’ve been cooking lots of stews in them, including lamb, chicken, beef and fish. The conical lid of the tagine allows the steam to rise to the top and then fall back down and circulate along the bottom, locking in the moisture and flavors. No pre-heating of the oven is required- just place your tagine on low heat and the cooking takes care of itself.

Most traditional tagines are made of clay and are not designed to be cooked on top of a modern gas or electric stove, unless used with a diffuser. However, some companies like Emile Henry make glazed ‘flame top ceramic’ tagines that can be used directly on an electric or gas hob.

Émile Henry Tagine- can work directly on electric or gas stove top

Emile Henry tagine

My recipe for Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives uses a chermoula marinade flavored with preserved lemons, ginger, cumin, ginger and saffron threads. Green olives, chopped potatoes and tomatoes are then added to the base, creating delicious Morrocan flavors! You’ll only need a small amount of liquid to cook your tagine stew; after a few minutes you’ll start to hear your tagine start to bubble away, but no peeking! It’s best to keep the lid on during the cooking.

It took me three tries to get this recipe perfect. The first time, my husband said that this “was not his favorite dish.” At first, he said there was too much lemon taste (I then cut back on the amount of preserved lemon). He also said the taste was a “bit too bland” (I then added a bit more chili and ginger) and I later decided to brown the chicken beforehand to caramalize and lock in the flavors of the meat. On the third try, he said the dish was great and he went back for seconds. It’s great to have a resident taste-tester available!

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

 

 

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with preserved lemon and olives
Serves 5
Chicken marinated with delicious Moroccan flavors and slow-cooked in a Tagine
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
For the Chermoula Marinade
  1. 2 diced garlic cloves
  2. ½ preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and finely sliced
  3. 1 shallot bulb, diced
  4. ½ red chilli
  5. 1 tbsp diced ginger
  6. 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  7. 1 tbsp ground cumin
  8. 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  9. 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  10. Pinch of safftron threads soaked in a little water
  11. ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
  12. Salt
Main Ingredients
  1. 5-6 chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks with bone in)
  2. 2 tomatoes (1 chopped, 1 sliced)
  3. 2 medium onions (1 chopped, 1 sliced)
  4. 2 potatoes
  5. 10-12 pitted green olives
  6. 1 cup (250 ml) water combined with the remaining marinade
Garnish
  1. Chopped coriander
  2. ½ preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and cut into thin strips
Instructions
  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Rub ½ of the marinade on the chicken pieces and refrigerate for at least two hours (longer if possible).
  2. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown in a separate fry pan, using several tablespoons of olive oil. Drain the pieces on kitchen paper and set aside. Chop one tomato and one onion and spread the mixture over the base of the tagine (this will prevent the chicken from burning on the base). Place the chicken pieces on top.
  3. Cut the potatoes into wedges and arrange around the chicken. Top with the remaining sliced tomato and sliced onion and then push the olives into the gaps. Combine the water with the remaining marinade and pour over the mixture. Decorate with the preserved lemon strips.
  4. Cover the tagine with the lid and cook over very low heat for one hour. Do not lift the lid or stir during the cooking. Garnish the dish with some chopped coriander; serve with couscous or rice.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Le Cordon Bleu Coq au Vin

 

Coq au Vin

I learned this Coq au Vin recipe at the Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris, so it should be ‘authentic’, right? The truth is, there are quite a few variations for this dish, but they all have the same thing in common: a chicken stew cooked in wine, accompanied by mushrooms, smoked bacon and onions and sprinkled with parsley. I’ve added some homemade croutons to my dish for a French rustic touch.

Coq au Vin is a French country dish, evolved from the farm where the resident rooster was cooked in a pot when it could no longer ‘service’ the hens. The rooster’s  blood was often used to thicken the stew- in fact, we were given the option of thickening our Coq au Vin with pig’s blood at Le Cordon Bleu. (FYI, no one in my class opted to use this technique, instead thickening the sauce with butter and flour. In fact, the chef said she would refuse to taste our dish if we used the blood!).

There are some variations for this dish: the Cordon Bleu recipe recommends that you first marinate the chicken pieces in red wine, preferably overnight. As a comparison, Julia Child omits this step with her dish, getting right into cooking the chicken with the wine and stock. (I know which method I’d prefer)! Cordon Bleu also recommends cooking the chicken in both wine and aromatic vegetables, such as carrots and celery. The vegetables, which are eventually discarded, help to give your sauce a much deeper flavour at the end.

And finally, this dish is served so that you can identify each of the ingredients on the plate. In fact, most of the elements are cooked separately (i.e. the mushrooms, onions and bacon) and are then all assembled at the end. No more having the chicken and mushrooms lost in an avalanche of sauce- each ingredient ‘takes pride of place’ and can easily be identified. This dish is Country French at its best!

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Authentic Coq au Vin
Serves 4
An authentic French stew, flavored with thick bacon, mushrooms and onions
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
2 hr
Marinade
  1. 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  2. 2 carrots, chopped
  3. 2 celery stalks, chopped
  4. 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  5. 1 Bouquet Garni (2 bay leaves and several sprigs of thyme tied together)
  6. 8 - 10 black peppercorns
  7. 4 cups red wine
  8. 1/4 Cognac (optional)
Main Ingredients
  1. 1 chicken, cut-up into pieces, with bones in
  2. salt and pepper to season the chicken
  3. 1 - 2 cups chicken stock
  4. 1 Bouquet Garni
  5. 3 tbsp plain flour
Onion ‘Confit’
  1. 1/2 cup red wine, reduced to a glaze
  2. 1/4 cup white vinegar
  3. 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  4. 2 tbsp butter
  5. 1/4 cup water
  6. Pinch salt and sugar
  7. Binding (thickening) agent (beurre manié)
  8. 3 tbsp flour
  9. 2 tbsp softened butter
Garnish
  1. 15 - 20 button mushrooms
  2. 8 ounces speck (smoked slab bacon)
  3. 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
  4. Crusty bread rolls or baguettes, brushed with oil or butter, toasted in oven
Instructions
  1. Place all marinade ingredients in a large bowl; add the chicken pieces to the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible.
  2. Remove chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towel. Set aside the marinade mixture for later.
  3. Heat several tbsps. of oil in a Dutch oven or large casserole dish. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then brown in several batches over medium high heat, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from the pan and drain the fat.
  4. Now add the following ingredients back to the Dutch oven or pan: browned chicken pieces, wine and vegetables from the marinade, flour and Bouquet Garni. Add enough of the chicken stock to cover the ingredients (1 - 2 cups of stock). Place cover on the pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the chicken meat is tender.
  5. While the chicken is baking, prepare the onion ‘confit.’ Place sliced onions into fry pan with some butter, add the water, pinch of salt and sugar. Cover with parchment paper and simmer over medium low heat until the oinions soften and the moisture reduces.
  6. In separate small saucepan, reduce the 1/2 cup red wine until it becomes syrup, add the vinegar and simmer for several minutes. Add this mixture to the ‘confit’ onions and set aside.
  7. Sauté the button mushrooms in butter for several minutes until soft and set aside.
  8. Cut the bacon speck into thin strips about 1 inch long and ¼ inch wide, add some oil to a fry pan and brown for several minutes over medium high heat. Remove the bacon from the pan, pat dry with a paper towel and add the bacon to the mushrooms.
  9. When the chicken pieces are cooked, remove the pan from oven, set aside the chicken pieces, strain the vegetables and herbs from the cooking liquid and discard. Reduce the cooking liquid over medium heat until it reduces to about 2/3 of the original volume. To prepare the thickening agent, massage the butter and flour together with your fingers to form a smooth paste. Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whisk and simmer for several minutes until the sauce thickens. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, adjust seasoning to taste.
  10. To serve, add the ‘confit’ onion mixture to the bottom of the serving dish, arrange the chicken pieces, speck and button mushrooms around the dish and then pour some sauce on top. Be careful not to 'drown' the ingredients with the sauce, you still should be able to make out the individual ingredients in the dish.
  11. Garnish with chopped parsley and several pieces of toasted baguettes.
Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu recipe
Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu recipe
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

 

 

Chicken Provencal

 

Chick Provencal 4

 “Yum, this dish is delicious!” said my husband, as he treated himself to a second helping of my Chicken Provencal. “Is this recipe French or Italian?”

It’s French, of course, but I couldn’t blame him for thinking it could have come from Italy. Chicken Provencal (or Poulet Provençal) is a native dish from the region of Provence, located in the southeast corner of France. Because of its proximity to the Italian border, the food in Provence is highly influenced by Italy and the bounty from the Mediterranean Sea.

Bouillabaisse, Ratatouille, Salade Niçoise and Pisaladière – these are all dishes that spring from Provence. (How well I remember making Bouillabaisse while living in France, using the scary-looking red scorpion fish)!

Scorpion Fish

Like most cuisine from the region, Chicken Provencal uses lots of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, olives and a special mixture of herbs known as herbes de Provence. This is a mixture of dried herbs including oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and fennel seeds. Have some fun making up your own mixture of herbes de Provence and you can even use it later in many other dishes.

Chicken Provencal is not difficult to make – it’s mainly a chicken stew with lots of flavours infused from white wine, chicken stock, tomatoes, red capsicums and herbs (and I’ve even added one anchovy)!

“Can I have a third helping of Chicken Provencal?” my husband asked. “No”, I replied, “you’ve got to leave room for your dessert: Profiteroles with Custard Cream and Chocolate Sauce !”

Chick Provencal

 Recipe for Herbes de Provence

2 tablespoons each of dried thyme, basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary and savory (optional) and 1 tablespoon of ground fennel seeds.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Chicken Provencal
Recipe type: Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine: French
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 7 - 8
 
Succulent chicken pieces dripping with flavours from the French Provence region.
Ingredients
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 7 – 8 Chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
  • Salt/pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 anchovy fillet, chopped
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 10 -12 pitted olives
  • Chopped parsley leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven griller.
  2. Slice the bell pepper into quarters and remove the seeds and inner membrane. Rub the outer skin with olive oil and place in the oven griller for several minutes until the skin blisters and blackens a little. Place inside a plastic bag to cool, then cut the pepper into thin strips.
  3. Reduce oven to 180 C.
  4. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Over medium-high heat, brown both sides of each chicken thigh, starting with the skin side first.
  5. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and let drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Retain at least 1 tbsp of oil/fat in the pan.
  6. ‘Sweat’ the diced onion in the pan until translucent in color, then add the garlic and simmer for another 1 -2 minutes.
  7. Add the chopped anchovy and cayenne. Stir in the white wine and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan using the edge of a spatula or wooden spoon.
  8. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan: chicken stock, tomato paste, bell pepper slices, fresh thyme leaves, bay leaf and Herbes de Provence.
  9. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan. If necessary, add more chicken stock to ensure the chicken pieces are completely covered with liquid.
  10. Cover the Dutch oven or skillet and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the meat falls off the bone.
  11. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan, cover with foil and let rest while preparing the sauce.
  12. Remove the bay leaf from the pan, add the lemon zest and bring the ingredients to a soft boil. Reduce heat and stir occasionally until the sauce is reduced to about 1 ½ cups. Add the olives and heat for an additional one minute.
  13. To serve, place several chicken pieces on a bed of rice, spoon some sauce over the chicken and garnish with several parsley sprigs.