It just doesn't make any sense. A sauce with a crazy combo of ingredients - ancho chiles; raisins; tomatoes; almonds. Oh Yes - and chocolate!
"Mole" is often called "the Curry of Mexico," and with good reason. No one makes mole exactly the same, but most moles have common themes: delightful yet odd combination of ingredients. ((NOTE: I am decidedly not opposed to weird ingredients: I have even made a delicious mole with pumpkin seeds and radish leaves!)) Take for example, the most well known mole, Mole Negro: nuts, raisins, chiles and chocolate. That sounds like a desperate combo using up odds and ends from a Mexican pantry, but results in a unique, silky smooth texture with the perfect twist of spices and heat.
Sandy and I were lucky enough to go to the Santa Fe Cooking School a while ago, and we ate at a world famous southwest restaurant: The Coyote Cafe. I order the chicken mole and was in heaven. I MUST MAKE THIS, I pledged. But then, I bought the cookbook, turned to the mole recipe and nearly fainted - so many ingredients and a lots of work.
Then, I came across Rick Bayless' recipe for mole that promised it was "EASY." And by this I mean only a dozen or so ingredients and a few minutes prep time. I had no choice. I had to try this recipe. I simplified this recipe even more. The one thing I did not omit is the toasting of the almonds and chiles first - this adds an incredible deep, rich taste.
This mole is shockingly good, considering it only takes about 20 minutes of prep time total. It is rich. It is sweet. It is spicy. It is flavor-packed. And, it tastes amazingly close to the Coyote Cafe's mole extraordinaire.
Try this on a cold wintery day (Ahem, like where I live!) and the smell alone will penetrate right to your bones. And the taste, well. . . words do not suffice. Put this on your "must try" list this winter.
- EASY SLOW COOKER MOLE
- - serves 12 with about 2 quarts of sauce (you'll have leftovers) -
- Adapted from Fiesta at Rick's by Rick Bayless
- ½ cup vegetable oil, plus a little more if necessary
- 3 medium (about 1 ½ ounces total) dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut into roughly 1-inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- ¾ cup (about 3 ounces) slivered almonds
- 4 ounces raisins (about ½ cup)
- One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
- 1 ounce (about ¼ of a 3.3 ounce tablet) Mexican chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- A little honey if needed to balance bitterness
- About 2 quarts chicken broth
- 1. Prepare the mole base: Heat oil in a large skillet to medium high heat. Add the chiles and almonds. Stir slowly and continually until the chiles are thoroughly toasted (the interior of each piece will become lighter in color) and the almonds have taken on a creamy color and toasty aroma—about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, raisins, tomatoes (with their juice), spices, chocolate. Cook until the tomato juices are reduced and quite thick, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups water, a little honey and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Stir to combine. When the liquid comes to a simmer, transfer the crock to the slow cooker (or scrape the mixture into your slow-cooker). Cook on low for 6 hours. After 6 hours most of the liquid will be reduced to a glaze. The mixture can hold for several hours on the slow cooker's "warm" setting.
- 2. Finish the mole: Scrape every bit of the mole base into a bowl, then scoop half of it into a blender jar. Add 2 cups of the chicken broth, cover and blend until as smooth as possible—for most household blenders this will take 4 to 5 minutes. Set a medium-mesh strainer over the slow-cooker's cooking crock and press the mole base through it. Repeat with the remainder of the mole base. Stir in 3 cups more chicken broth. Simmer in the slow-cooker for 2 hours or so on high. If the sauce has thickened past the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little more of the broth. Taste and season with additional salt (usually about 1 teaspoon) and sugar (usually 2 to 3 tablespoons).
Cook chicken as desired - grilled or browned in a skillet - and then simmer the chicken in the mole for about the last hour in the slow cooker.
Serve with rice to soak up all the sauce.
Other food bloggers do "easy" moles:
Mole sauce, The South in my Mouth
Mole Colorado, The Perfect Pantry
Rich Red Mole, The Paupered Chef
Chicken Mole, One Perfect Bite
I have never had mole before, but I think I need to change that now!!
Barbara @ Barbara Bakes
Several places in Utah are known for their delicious mole, but how great to have an easy recipe to make at home!
The mole sounds amazing 🙂
Kiri - You can't beat amazing + easy! Do try!
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
Ooooh, I have to try this! I once set out to make all of the seven moles of Mexico -- such fun -- but I admit that the red and black moles are my favorite. I'm using my slow cooker more often these days, and can't wait to put this recipe to work. Thanks for linking to my mole colorado recipe, too.
Thanks Lydia - so great to have you visit us!
Can you tell me, am I frying the chiles and almonds in the oil? I feel like I've tried that before and never quite get the toasted flavor I'm looking for. Or am I supposed to toast them in a dry skillet first, then add the oil?
Hey Julia - You can try either approach - just watch that the almonds don't get too dark. They go from toasty brown to black in seconds!
well that would probably be my first tendency, to burn the almonds! thank for the tip, Donna!
Come back and let me know how you like this easy mole!
What is the measurement on the raisins? Thanks.
Felipa - Thanks for your question - 4 ounces is about 1/2 cup. Enjoy!
I'm making this on Friday for my book club dinner! I'm going to use boneless chicken breasts and I'm wondering if it will get too overcooked? Should I completely cook the chicken and then simmer for an hour with the sauce? Will it be too dry that way or should I only partially cook the chicken and will it cook completely in the sauce? Thanks in advance for your help!
Hi Cindy - Chicken breasts would be great in this - I think I would just lightly grill or brown them in a skillet (no need to9 cook through) and then add them to the slow cooker the last hour. Hope you love this dish as much as I do!
Hi Donna. I didn't get your reply before I made the recipe, but regardless it was a huge hit with everyone! Thank you!!!