Do you know of a dish that has over 100 varieties? The answer is “mole”, one of the quintessential Mexican dishes. But if there’s one mole that stands head and shoulders above the others, it has to be pollo mole poblano.
Mole is a complex dish with its origins in pre-Hispanic times. It requires a lot of patience and a lot of ingredients, which is why it’s said that it has involved by being passed down from generation to generation, that with the passage of time ingredients have gradually been added, and the dish has evolved, acquiring the specific characteristics of each area.
A dish as special as pollo mole poblano can only be paired with a cava of the same standing: a cava de paraje calificado, a qualified single estate cava, aged for more than 36 months. Time is a key factor here, for both the chicken mole poblano and the cava de paraje calificado: it’s time that produces first class results, and that's what makes them such a perfect match.
Do you dare to give it a try at home?
For the Chicken
2 chickens, quartered
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
3 litres water
Ingredients for the mole
5 ancho chillies
5 mulato chillies
5 pasilla chillies
5 guajillo chillies
5 garlic cloves
⅓ cup raisins
⅓ cup of sesame seeds
½ cup raw peanuts
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ teaspoon anise
12 allspice berries
1 stick of cinnamon
2 dried avocado leaves
20 raw almonds (peeled)
1 medium-sized plantain
1 piece of bread (½ bread roll)
90 g chocolate
1 litre chicken stock (for soaking the chillies that will then be ground with this same stock)
1 tbsp salt
3 cups chicken stock (for grinding the spices)
Place the half onion, garlic cloves, chicken and salt in a pan with the 3 litres of water. Cook for between 45 - 60 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, start preparing the mole. Fry all the chillies (deseeded) over a low heat taking great care - if they burn, they can give the dish a bitter taste. After frying, set them aside in a bowl and add a litre of chicken stock so that they gradually hydrate.
Next, sauté the nuts, seeds and raisins in a frying pan. Toast the bread in that same pan. Set all these ingredients aside in another bowl.
Lastly, fry the sliced plantain, onion and the well-hydrated garlic. Keep the heat nice and low, and don’t overdo things.
Mix together all the ingredients prepared in the frying pan, with the exception of the chicken. Add the mixture of nuts, seeds, bread and raisins to the bowl where the chillies have been soaking together with the plantain, the onion and the garlic, and liquidize the lot. Gradually add stock to the liquidised mixture to improve/ adjust the thickness of the mole (sauce).
Once this is ready, take a large pan and heat 2 tablespoons of oil. When it’s hot, add the mole, and add a cup of stock, stirring all the time. Cook over a very low heat for 30 minutes, stirring constantly.
After half an hour, add the chocolate broken into small pieces, and keep on stirring until it’s blended into the sauce.
When the mixture darkens, add a bit more stock, and the tablespoon of salt. Cook for another 5 - 10 minutes, still stirring all the time. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Now you can decide whether to serve right away, or keep it for later.
If you decide to serve straight away, stir the boiled chicken into the mole sauce.
If you’re going to be serving later on: leave the chicken ready prepare don a plate, and cover with the hot mole sauce just before you sit down to eat.
After hours of preparation, your pollo mole poblano is ready to eat. You can serve the dish on a plate with some red rice, and a bean tamale, and you could also sprinkle a bit of sesame over the chicken. And to make sure that every one of those flavours shines through for you to enjoy, this dish deserves to be paired with a cava de paraje calificado (aged for more than 36 months).
‘Pan bolillio’ is typical in Mexico. The equivalent would be a bread roll.