Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration held every May 5th to
commemorate the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
MOLE POBLANO is a term covering many different sauces in Mexico but it’s mole pablano – a thick and savory Chile and chocolate sauce from the state of Puebla that’s synonymous with “mole” around the world and Cinco de Mayo. The authentic recipe is very involved and takes hours and even days, but I was fortunate to get a condensed version from a very old friend who also told me that this is a dish served at every special occasion in her family. As delicious as this dish sounds, I must admit that I have not attempted to make it and only have a recipe written on paper to go by.
1 LARGE CHICKEN – cut into pieces
8 CUPS OF WATER – more as necessary
1 ONION – cut into pieces
4-5 GARLIC CLOVES
SALT – to taste
FOR THE SAUCE:
6 MULATO PEPPERS
4 ANCHO PEPPERS
6 PASILLA PEPPERS
1 TB RESERVED PEPPER SEEDS
4 WHOLE CLOVES
PINCH OF BLACK PEPPERCORN
¼ TSP CORIANDER SEEDS
¼ TSP ANISE SEEDS
¾ CUP SESAME SEEDS
½ CUP RAISINS
½ CUP PEANUTS
2-3 SMALL SLICES FRENCH BREAD
½ SMALL ONION – sliced
4 GARLIC CLOVES – roasted
3.1 OZ MEXICAN CHOCOLATE – drinking chocolate or 1 tablet
SALT TO TASTE
½-INCH MEXICAN CINNAMON
½ CUP ALMONDS
2 CORN TORTILLA
¼ CUP RAW PUMPKIN SEEDS
2 TOMATOES – roasted
½ RIPE PLANTAIN – peeled, sliced thick
RESERVED BROTH FROM CHICKEN
OIL TO FRY THE INGREDIENTS – app ½ cup
TO COOK THE CHICKEN – combine all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked through. Skim foam, move chicken to a bowl to chill, covered. Strain and reserve the broth.
FOR THE MOLE SAUCE – Get all the ingredients ready according to the list as this step is very important.
Prepare the peppers making sure to clean the dry peppers with a wet cloth. Cut the peppers with kitchen scissors and flatten them for even toasting.
Have a large pot ready with simmering chicken broth to soak all the ingredients after toasting or frying allowing them to get softer and easier to grind.
In a skillet, toast the dry peppers a few at a time on both sides pressing them down to keep them flat for even toasting and toast until the inside turns a dark brown. This takes a few seconds but be sure to not let them burn. Place the peppers with the chocolate in with the broth and allow to soak. Meanwhile, keep toasting the rest of the peppers and placing them in the broth with the other peppers.
Meanwhile, toast separately the reserved pepper seeds, the coriander seeds, the anise seeds, and the sesame seeds, setting them aside when toasted to cool.
In an electric grinder, grind as fine as possible, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, and finally all the cooled toasted ingredients with the exception of the sesame seeds, which you will save 2 tablespoons to serve on the mole. Now add this mixture of spices to the bowl with the peppers.
Add a small amount of oil, grease or lard to a skillet and begin frying the following ingredients separately draining any excess fat after frying: raisins to plump them up, almonds until well browned, pumpkin seeds until they swell but be careful to not let them jump and explode.
Every ingredient will be added to the pot with the broth. At the same time you can roast the tomato and garlic cloves but fry the onions until golden brown and add them to the broth.
Fry the tortilla and bread until crisp. Carefully add lard a little at a time or it will be absorbed by the tortilla and bread and only when necessary.
Add the plantain and sauté until golden. Using a spider or slotted spoon, shake and drain off excess fat and transfer to the bowl. Definitely only use a ripe plantain.
Now in this bowl is where all the fried and toasted ingredients were tossed and they are now ready to whirl around in your blender. To make the blending and grinding process easier, crush the bread and the tortillas roughly, chop the roasted tomatoes and toss all into the blender.
Add ½ cup of chicken broth to the blender along with the peeled garlic and give a whirl. Gradually add the spice mixture and blend well. Next add another ½ cup of the broth and gradually blend the fried ingredients into a fine paste. Only add more liquid if the paste is overheating the motor. You will most likely do this in a few steps unless you have a commercial blender or something like a Vitamix where you can do it all in one batch. The end result should be smooth or you will want to pass it all through a strainer.
In a large skillet over medium heat, reheat the sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan often to avoid sticking. Taste and season with salt, as needed.
Continue frying until the mixtures is very thick while stirring often. Add more both only as needed to achieve your desired thickness and then continue to cook until the mixture is bubbling – about 20-30 minutes. Pools of oil should be forming on the surface.
Add cooked chicken to the hot mole and cooked on low heat until the chicken is heated through.
To serve: place a piece of chicken on a dish and spoon on plenty of the mole sauce and sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds. You can serve this with white rice and plenty of warmed tortillas.
NOTE: Since this mole is not spicy, if you would like to add heat, add some dried chipotle peppers. Also add more chocolate if you want to get a little more of that flavor.
AN EASY MEXICAN CASSEROLE
A great dish to cook in your slow cooker
and have ready to serve on Cinco di Mayo!
2 LBS GROUND BEEF
¾ CUP WATER
1 16 OZ CAN REFRIGERATED HOME STYLE BISCUITS – your favorite
VARIOUS TOPPINGS – your favorites
16 OZ TACO SAUCE
1 PACKET TACO SEASONING
2 CUPS CHEDDAR CHEESE – shredded, divided
1 ONION – small, finely chopped
Lightly spray the bottom of your slow cooker.
Cook the beef and onions on high heat in your slow cooker if your cooker can get hot enough to brown the meat, otherwise do this in a skillet, then drain a little and set aside in a bowl.
Either when in the bowl or already in the skillet, add the taco sauce (your favorite heat level) to the meat and stir in. Add the water and taco seasoning and cook until it all starts to thicken – about 5 minutes.
In the meantime, break each of the biscuits into 6 pieces. Place the biscuit pieces directly into the slow cooker. Fold the meat mixture and half of the cheese into the biscuits, evenly distributing the beef mixture over and throughout all.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for about 3 or 3 ½ hours or until the biscuits are cooked through and not doughy.
Remove the lid and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Recover and cook just long enough to melt the cheese.
Placing spatulas or large spoons under the biscuits remove, as a whole, to a large serving platter where it can be cut into pieces.
For toppings have a selection of shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, sliced red onions and/or chopped hot peppers.
Pass taco chips and serve with Margaritas.