By Luke Chavez
The Times 

Pollo en Mole Verde

My Recipes: Luke Chavez

 

October 6, 2022

Luke Chavez

Pollo en Mole Verde

This past week, Waitsburg has been graced with gorgeous sunny fall days, and crisp cool nights. The kind of weather that nudges me back into the kitchen, inspired by early fall produce, and cravings for slow-cooked comfort food. While researching recipes, I came across this gorgeous green mole made from pulverized pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro, and green chiles. Much different than the rich, dark black mole most people are familiar with, this is just one of the many colorful varieties of mole that are found across Mexico. Here chicken thighs are slow braised until very tender in a gently simmering pot of this bright green sauce. Tender, crisp green beans are added to make a unique and satisfying meal.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 to 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

2 ½ cups pumpkin seeds, hulled

1 white onion, quartered

2 to 3 garlic cloves

4 serrano chilies, stemmed and seeded

3 to 6 cup chicken broth

2 cups cilantro stems and leaves, about 1 bunch

1 ½ pounds green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more as needed

Directions:

In a dry skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds over medium to medium-high heat, until just starting to turn a light golden brown. Stir often to make sure they do not burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, sear the chicken in batches, browning on all sides. Chicken will not be cooked all the way through. Transfer the seared chicken to a plate and set aside. Take pot off the heat.

Transfer the toasted pumpkin seeds to the jar of a blender and pulse until ground to a fine texture. Add the onion, garlic, chiles and 3 cups of the chicken stock, then puree until smooth. Next add the cilantro and pulse until fully blended in.

Pour the sauce into the Dutch oven and set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often and scraping up the bottom of pot, until the sauce begins to simmer, about 15 minuttes. Return the chicken to the pot including any accumulated juices, covering with sauce, and reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and continue to cook at a gentle simmer until the sauce is thick and the chicken is very tender, about 45 minutes. While cooking, if sauce is getting too thick add a little more chicken stock. When chicken is tender, add the green beans and salt and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the beans are cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Serve immediately.

Notes:

There are versions of this dish throughout Mexico that incorporate different green vegetables cooked with the meat. Instead of green beans you could try zucchini, chard leaves, or kale. In the spring, fresh fava beans would also be delightful. Versions of this dish also sometimes use chunks of pork shoulder instead of the chicken.

Normally, before searing meat to be braised I would generously season the meat with salt. However, with this recipe it is important not to salt the dish too early, to prevent the delicate sauce from breaking. Also, for the same reason it is important to not let the sauce rapidly boil. It should never be above a gentle, low-heat simmer.

The sweet nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds balances out any spiciness from the serrano chiles, resulting in a mild and flavorful mole. If you would like your mole to be a bit spicier you could leave the seeds in the chiles or add more chiles. If you cannot find fresh serrano chiles, fresh jalapenos or mild Anaheim peppers would also work.

This week, I served this comforting dish with rice and fresh homemade tortillas. A garnish of fresh cilantro on top added to the pleasant green presentation. Enjoy!

 

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