Chicken Molé Rustico

Mexican sources say that the ingredients of molé can be grouped into five distinct classes (I’ve put my choices in parenthesis): chiles (pasilla, ancho, negro, chipotle), sour (tomatoes/basalmic vinegar), sweet (raisins), spices (cumin, coriander, cinnamon, thyme, cloves, anise), and thickeners (almond and sesame butters). However, to my mind, the magic ingredient is chocolate. Molé can be made as spicy, bitter, chocolatey, or sweet as you desire just by tweaking the proportions…this version is savory with only a hint of warmth. Also, most molés are run through a food processor before serving to create a completely smooth sauce. I left everything untouched, and named it “rústico”.

I’ll make a chunky, fresh side dish of chopped roma tomatoes, avocados, green onions, cilantro, and lime juice. The fresh flavors and colors will add bright contrast to the mole’s deep brown richness.

Chicken Molé Rustico
Yield: 2 servings

1 lb. chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 dried [each] pasilla, ancho, negro, chipotle chilies, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1″ pieces, rinsed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1⁄8 cup almond butter
1/8 cup tahini (sesame butter)
1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1-1/2 cups light miso
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon thyme
A pinch of clove
A pinch of anise
1/8 teaspoon instant espresso
1 teaspoon raisins
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon chili powder
1 tbsp zested orange peel
1/2 teaspoon basalmic vinegar

Garnish: toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put the chicken thighs in a Dutch oven. Saute onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Transfer onions and garlic to the Dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and sauté for five minutes or so. Add to Dutch oven.

Cook, uncovered, in the oven for an hour. Check the liquid levels—but allow thickening—and give everything a stir once or twice. Top mole with toasted sesame seeds and serve with side dishes such as brown rice and a chunky salsa fresco salad.