Mole Poblano

Mole PoblanoIf you’re looking to hit a home run and impress your dramming buddies, there are few dishes I’ve had that compliment the whisky of Scotland better than mole poblano. I’m usually not a big fan of pairing spicy food and alcohol, either, but this dish is one of the exceptions. This mole pairs with just about any scotch whisky out there: sweet, malty, peaty or blended.The sauce and the spirit change each other for the better, the whisky sweetens the mole a bit and the fat in the sauce smooths out some of the alcohol. Just stay away from heavily-sherried/sulphury drams, which need more sweet and meaty notes than a mole offers. If you break this rule you’ll find yourself mulling over a very bitter experience. Try a Talisker, Clynelish, Laphroaig or Aberlour… even Johnny Walker is delicious when serving mole.

Mole is not a quick and easy dish to prepare. It takes a few hours, but it freezes well so you can make it once and then have it a few times on down the road. Just thaw it out the day you want to use it, add a little chicken stock and heat it on medium for a few minutes. Puree it with a stick blender to smooth it out, and serve over chicken or turkey.

Again, as with most recipes I offer here, this is not a completely traditional mole. I’ve departed from most of the recipes I found, not only to make it easier to prepare, but to make it a little more palatable for the average American. I’ve added some extra sweetness, took out some of the bitterness, and cooked in a few more spices to make it a little less like you’re eating a dried chile.

If you don’t live near a Mexican grocer, Google will help you find where you can order the chiles online. Make sure to buy whole chiles, too.

Mole Poblano


  • 4 skin on chicken thighs 
  • 3 whole mulato chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 3 whole pasilla chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 3 whole ancho chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • ~ 2 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 tomatillos
  • 1 peeled and quartered onion
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 Tbs whole black peppercorns
  • 2-inch piece of Ceylon or Mexican (real) cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp anise seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
  • 8 Tbs sesame seeds, toasted
  • 10 whole peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup whole, blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 handful tortilla chips
  • 6 inch French roll, cut into slices
  • 2 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 disc (about 1.3 oz) Mexican chocolate, chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme tied together

Sprinkle the chicken with a little kosher salt, cover and refrigerate for an hour prior to cooking. Meanwhile, husk and wash the tomatillos and put them on a small oven safe dish with the quartered onion.

Sear the chicken in a pan until brown on both sides. Fit all the chicken in a small pot just big enough to hold it. Add the garlic over and under the chicken pieces and cover with at least 1 cup oil. Bake covered at 325*F. After 1:15 hours throw the tomatillos and onion in the oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Remove everything from oven. Reserve garlic and garlic infused oil, and set tomatillos and onion aside. When chicken is cool enough to handle, you can carefully pull the bone out and remove the skin if you’d like, or you can leave them in for a more rustic meal. Set meat in refrigerator.

Heat 1/2 cup of fresh oil in a large heavy pot to around 325-350*F. The chiles should sizzle a little when you add them, but not smoke. Fry the chiles in batches for 10 seconds – but do not burn! Drain on paper towels. In a stainless or glass bowl, cover chiles with hot water and soak 30 minutes. Drain. Puree the chiles in a food processor with enough chicken stock to make a smooth paste.

Dump the oil from your heavy pot (the chile oil can get bitter) refill with 1/4 cup oil over medium heat and add the chile puree (watch out for splattering). Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

Toast sesame, coriander and anise seeds in a hot, dry skillet until fragrant, but do not let them smoke!  Grind the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, and toasted spices and then puree it with the garlic, tomatillos and onion in the food processor.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the skillet over medium. Fry the raisins, almonds, and  pumpkin seeds until the raisins puff up. Add to the tomatillos and puree. Add a few more tablespoons oil to the pan and fry the bread until golden. Add tortilla chips and bread to the tomatillos. Puree, adding 1 cup chicken broth a little at a time to make a smooth sauce.

Add the tomatillo puree, 1 cup of the reserved garlic oil and the Mexican chocolate to the chile puree in the heavy pot. Stir to combine everything. Add the remaining chicken broth and the thyme, and reduce over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching on the bottom. Add a fresh splash of oil to the skillet and gently heat the chicken through over low heat; Alternatively, you can add the chicken to the sauce for the last 10 minutes to heat. Remove the thyme bundle. Season to taste with kosher or sea salt. If you like a smoother sauce you can use a stick blender to really get it nice and smooth. Slather the chicken with sauce and garnish with toasted pepitas if you like. Serve with white rice and scotch whisky.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *