Molé is a meat-stretching dish which has a legend to go with it. The legend we grew up with is:
In colonial Mexico, a convent was told on very short notice that it would receive a visit from the bishop. Knowing that he would be hungry upon arrival, the nuns looked at their one chicken and meager supplies and tried to figure out how to feed everyone. Using what they had on hand, they came up with molé. The ingredients may be varied to suit individual taste.
5 dried ancho chiles*
5 dried pasilla chiles
5 dried mulato chiles
5 lb. chicken or turkey parts
1 ½ t. whole comino
2 cloves garlic
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes in puree
½ c. roasted, unsalted peanuts
½ c. blanched almonds
½ c. raw pumpkin seeds
5 cloves garlic
2 medium onions, chopped
1 ¾ c. water chiles were soaked in
½ t. cloves
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. cilantro seeds
2 sprigs fresh cilantro or parsley
2 slices toast or 2 flour tortillas
½ c. oil or lard
3 c. chicken or turkey broth
7 oz. Mexican chocolate (or bitter chocolate)
¼ – 1/3 c. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil water; put in large saucepan and add chiles. Cover and soak for an hour. Combine chicken or turkey, comino, garlic and peppercorns in a large pot. Cover with water and boil 30-45 minutes (an hour for turkey). Remove meat from stock, and if using turkey, remove from bones. Set meat and stock aside. (The cooked meat may be browned in a little oil or lard, if desired.)
Remove seeds and stems from chiles. In blender, combine chiles, tomatoes, nuts, garlic, onions, water, spices, cilantro and toast and blend well. This may have to be done in batches. Pour blended mixture into large pot; add oil and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Add broth, chocolate (if using bitter chocolate, increase sugar amount), sugar, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until chocolate is melted and sauce is quite thick. Add poultry and cook over low heat until poultry is heated through.
*Molé may also be made with all ancho chiles or all pasilla chiles, if desired.
A Note on Commercial Molé
If you like the taste of molé but not the trouble of making it, commercial molé is available in either powder or paste form. To mix these for use, either method below will provide good results:
1. Add chicken or turkey broth, sugar* and salt to taste, or
2. Add hot water and smooth peanut butter (and sugar if desired) until molé
is a nice thick consistency.
Add in cooked chicken, turkey or pork and heat through.
* Sugar helps take out the picante sting.