Are you ready to take a little trip with me to eat some semi-authentic-because-we’ve-got-a-few-shortcuts-up-our-sleeve-kind-of Mexican food?! Guys Cinco De Mayo is exactly a week away from today and we MUST be prepared with some Mexican yummies to celebrate! Yes, it’s a requirement! This Easy Chicken Mole will have you saying OLE! (<– too cheezy?! Yes, it’s dripping with cheeziness!)
You may remember that back in October Paul and I traveled to San Antonio, Texas. I ate all of the Mexican/Tex-Mex food I could get my hands on and honestly I haven’t been able to enjoy Midwestern Mexican food without comparing it to San Antonio Mexican food ever since. It just doesn’t come close. One of my favorite meals I had while I was in San Antonio was Chicken Mole. It was our last dinner before flying home and I wanted to try something different from the enchiladas and tacos I ate so much of. AND OMG it was delicious! I instantly knew that I MUST share this with you so that you can enjoy it right in your very own kitchen! No need to fly to San Antonio to try Chicken Mole – although, I do suggest going there for the culture and the river walk and the beautiful weather!
Chicken mole is all about the sauce. Before doing a little research I did know that mole sauce was made with chocolate and chilies, but that was the extent of my knowledge. After researching it I found out that the word “mole” literally means sauce in Spanish. The ingredients in mole sauce can vary greatly, however the sauce that I am most familiar with is mole poblano, containing the chocolate and the dried chilies. Traditionally mole sauce can take up to 1 day to make. The chilies, nuts, peppers, and tortilla chips used to be ground by hand and then mixed with water to make it thin it out. Most mole sauces contain 20 to 30 ingredients. Sounds exhausting, right? Well guess what my friends with he help of Marcela Valladolid from Mexican Made Easy on Food Network this version of mole sauce only takes about 20 minutes of active time to make and only requires 12 ingredients! That blender helps everything to become nice and smooth and creamy without a mortar and pestle – yay for modern technology! So, that’s why this recipe is semi-authentic! BUT hey it’s pretty delicious and the total time is 40 minutes – chicken included. That’s something I’m willing to trade for authenticity and tradition. Otherwise if I had to grind up spices for 1 day by hand I may never make it – and my arm would probably fall off ha!
Okay so enough with the history lesson (food nerd alert right here!) and let’s just talk about how delicious this Easy Chicken Mole is!!
Real quick we need to talk about the dried ancho chilies. You can either use dried passilla chilies or dried ancho chilies, whichever you can find. I used ancho chilies, which are simply poblano peppers that are allowed to ripen until they are red and dried. They are sweeter and very mild in spice. I found mine near the fresh herbs in my grocery store. If you can’t find them there you can either go to a Mexican store/market or even by them on Amazon! Hurray for the internet!
Anyways, back to the Easy Chicken Mole – we roast up some chicken pieces until the skin gets nice and crispy and golden we keep the chicken simple so that the mole sauce shines. The mole sauce is thick and creamy, a little spicy and smoky, with a hint of chocolate and sweetness but it’s mostly on the savory side. We serve this Easy Chicken Mole with some quick cooking rice to absorb all of that glorious sauce. My friends, you have arrived to modern day/weeknight semi-authentic Mexican food! Look at that, you didn’t even have to leave your kitchen to get it – well except to get the ingredients – and that is a beautiful thing! But seriously, if you get the chance to travel to San Antonio, do it!
Easy Chicken Mole makes a large portion, 8 10 10 servings. It’s a rich, decadent meal that is best served with a simple side salad or roasted veggies. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd – especially perfect for hosting a Cinco De Mayo party! To use up leftovers you could cut up the chicken, throw it into a corn tortilla, add some cheese and plenty of mole sauce and bake it away for some enchiladas. OR you can freeze the sauce and chicken so the Cinco De Mayo party can continue. I hope you love this recipe as much as we do.
For more Mexican inspired recipes try my Skinny Orange Lime Margarita – it will go nicely with the richness of the chicken mole. OR try my Fresh Raspberry Margarita. As an appetizer you could serve Grape Tomato Salsa, my Basic Guacamole, or my Creamy Sundried Tomato and Chipotle Dip for more heat.
- Mole Sauce
- 5 dried ancho chilies or passilla chilies (found in the fresh herbs section of your grocery store. OR on Amazon)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (plus about ½ cup to 1 cup more if needed)
- 2 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter (can sub almond butter or tahini paste)
- ¾ cup tortilla chips, broken slightly
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg*
- 3 to 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, brocken up or chopped (or Mexican chocolate, if you can find it)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract*
- salt to taste
- 2 pounds chicken pieces, skin on and bone in (could also use chicken breast for a lighter dish)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Options to serve with
- cooked rice (I suggest quick cooking rice)
- sour cream
- Queso fresco, crumbled
- cilantro, chopped
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Soak chilies: Soak the chilies in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft. Drain and remove stem and seeds, set aside.
- Prepare the chicken & bake: Place all of the chicken into a 9x13 baking dish. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Saute onion and garlic: Returning to the sauce heat a medium sized sauce pot over medium heat. Heat the oil and add onions. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Blend Sauce: To a high speed blender add the soaked chilies that have been drained and stemmed. Along with the chicken broth, sauteed onions and garlic, peanut butter, tortilla chips, dried oregano, and cinnamon and nutmeg (if not using Mexican chocolate). Blend until smooth. About 1 to 2 minutes.
- Cook the sauce: Transfer the sauce into the same sauce pot that you cooked the onions in. Turn the heat on high, reduce to a simmer. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. If the sauce seems too thick feel free to add more chicken broth. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Careful because the thick sauce may bubble up. Once done simmering stir in the almond extract. Taste test and add another ounce of chocolate if not chcolate-y enough, add salt to taste, and coconut sugar to taste. You want the sauce to taste of a hint of chocolate, slightly sweet to bring out the chocolate taste but mostly savory. Adjust accordingly to your taste buds.
- Assemble and Serve: Spoon sauce over cooked chicken and serve with rice on the side. Garnish with sour cream, crumbled queso fresco, or chopped cilantro, if desired.
- Store leftovers in separate containers for up to 4 days. You can freeze both the chicken and the sauce separately for up to 6 months.
Sauce recipe adapted from Mexican Marcela Valladolid on Mexican Made Easy
Nutrition facts are calculated for 10 servings and does not include rice or any garnishes/toppings because everyone likes different amounts of toppings and rice.