For many years I've loved mole sauce, the spicy concoction from the Oaxacan region of Mexico. It's often served over enchiladas and it's often rather complicated: a mix of toasted and ground spices, chiles, nuts and chocolate.
I found this mole recipe in Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook, and it's comparatively simple with 13 ingredients, compared to the 29 in the recipe I came across when Googling "traditional mole recipe."
A surprising fact about mole: it doesn't take long to cook--about 15 to 20 minutes total, making it the fastest component of this dish. Despite this short cooking time, the mole had a wonderful depth of flavor that was just what I was hoping for.
I actually pared the ingredients back a bit more because I couldn't find a dried guajillo or pasilla chile, so I used two ancho chiles instead, which are far less spicy than I imagined they would be. To prep them, use a paring knife to split them open and the scrape the seeds out with a spoon (discard the seeds).
For anyone who loves Mexican food which, in the United States is often really Tex-Mex food, Walsh's cookbook is a great read, providing a lot of background on the origins of Tex-Mex cuisine and a solid argument for why it should be considered a proper culinary tradition and not an illegitimate Americanization of true Mexican dishes.
Mole Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from recipes in The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, quartered
4 garlic cloves
6 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 yellow onion (about 1/4 cup), diced
2 canned peeled tomatoes, quartered
2 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 saltine crackers, crumbled
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 yellow onion (about 1/4 cup), diced
12-14 fresh corn tortillas (recipe to make your own, although this time I used store-bought)
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
Cook the chicken:
1. bring chicken broth to boil in a large pot. Add the chicken, onion, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf and cumin. When the mixture bubbles, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken, allow it to cool a bit, then shred it with a fork and set aside.
Make the mole (while the chicken cooks):
2. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Ass the garlic and onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chiles, chocolate, sesame seeds, peanut butter, sugar, crackers and chicken broth. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes then remove from heat.
3. To puree the mixture you can do the following: 1) transfer to an appropriate container and blend with an immersion blender until smooth (my immersion blender can with a tall plastic container perfect for a job like this), or 2) transfer to a regular blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make the enchiladas:
4. Preheat oven to 300 F.
5. In a small frying pan, toast the sesame seeds over medium-low heat until fragrant.
6. Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove chicken and onion from heat and transfer to a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of mole sauce to the shredded chicken and toss to combine.
7. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. One-by-one, toast each tortilla in the pan for about 10 to 15 seconds to soften them. Divide the chicken mixture among the tortillas, roll them up and place them seam-side down in a greased 9 X 13 baking dish. Pour the remaining mole sauce over the enchiladas then top with shredded cheese. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until bubbling hot. Serve garnished with toasted sesame seeds.