Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chicken Mole Torta (Mexican Chicken Sloppy Joes)

 Ever since I got hooked on food blogs, in 2008, I rarely watch Food Network.  One weekend morning, as I was folding laundry, I decided to click on Food Network.I've never watched "The Sandwich King" show (Next Food Network Star Winner "Jeff Mauro", Season 7).  Jeff was making a Chicken Mole Torta, and I found that episode reeled me into watching him make a dish I have never tried before.

Mole (Mo-Lay) sauce is something very unique, and there are countless versions of how it's made. It's a recipe that Latin American families take pride in, and many are family heirloom recipes.  I did a little research, and found a commonality in the traditional recipe ingredients-- chiles, sesame seed and/or almond, fruit, raisins and chocolate.  I also needed diced tomatoes, tomato paste,  chicken stock, garlic, onion, ground cinnamon and cloves. 

Chocolate and chili sauce?  Sounds a little weird, doesn't it?  That's exactly why I couldn't wrap my head around ordering a Mole sauce dish at a Mexican restaurant. Until now.  Ever since I became a "Food Blogger", I've opened up my palate to not shy away from trying new recipes.

I had just purchased Bone-In Chicken at Whole Foods.  It was Cinco de Mayo weekend, so the decision was made. I was going to make this recipe.  I already had most of  the ingredients, and was pretty confident it would be good-- especially after reading all the five star ratings.


All I needed to buy were the Ancho Chilis.  The Chilis were baked for a few minutes, then finely chopped and set aside.

I buy canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, and I rarely use them all at once. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos, and I will warn you-- they do pack a heat punch!   I love spicy food, but I have to tone down the heat.   So that I don't waste the chipotle peppers, I freeze portions into small containers; they are easier to chop, frozen, and I just toss them into my Mexican-themed recipes. 

 For this recipe, Jeff uses almond butter instead of finely ground almonds. 

The prep work took close to 30 minutes, as I carefully measured and chopped my ingredients (a printable recipe card is at the end of this post).  Once that work is done, the rest is pretty straight-forward, but it does require another 30 minutes of cooking and stirring.
Let's make Chicken Mole!

First, we toast the sesame seeds, and set them aside. Heat either peanut or vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add  onions, a couple pinches of salt and saute until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. The reserved ancho chiles and minced chipotle are added, then cooked until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Now, for the the chocolate, cinnamon, cloves and garlic-- cook until the garlic is fragrant and the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, almond butter, raisins and sesame seeds. Gently simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Place the mole into a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. TIP: I much prefer to use an immersion blender, because it's one less kitchen gadget to clean. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. If using a blender, add the mole back to the Dutch oven. . 

Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Lay the chicken in the sauce in one layer, making sure each breast is entirely coated, and gently simmer, flipping once during cooking, until the breasts register 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside off the heat and let rest

Using your hands, remove the skin and meat from the bones and discard.

Shred the chicken into smaller chunks and place back into the mole to keep warm. Season if necessary.

At this point, you can serve this dish over brown rice, with a garnish of sour cream and fresh cilantro-- and an optional squeeze of lime juice.  Delicious!  This is how we enjoyed the leftovers on the following day.  However, I chose to serve this as a "Torta" or Mexican Sandwich.  In my previous posts, I shared how I made my own Mexican Bolillo Bread.  

Any kind of sandwich rolls, would make a good substitute.  Or, if you have a local Mexican bakery, buy a few and you won't regret it.  

To build this torta/sandwich you'll want shredded lettuce, sour cream, cilantro, lime slices (optional), tomatillo sauce and refried beans.  

On a previous post, I shared how I made the tomatillo (green salsa) sauce-- which was really easy to make and adds a perfect tangy and ever-so-subtle spice to the sandwich.  I debated on adding the refried beans-- for one thing, I do not like canned refried beans.  To me, there is something unappetizing about how they look, and I haven't found one brand that is palatable to my Mexican DNA.  However, I don't have a problem with keeping canned beans on hand-- they work great when I don't have the time to soak my own beans.  I decided to make black beans instead of pinto beans. Here's my quick way of making my own fast refried beans:

In a skillet, I simply add a can of black (or pinto) beans with the liquid.  Cook on medium high meat, so that the liquid will slowly evaporate. Mash and you're done in about five minutes!  You can add additional seasonings, to your liking-- such as cumin or chili powder. This time, I left them plain.
Slather some refried beans on the sandwich roll, then add a mound of chicken mole, and some extra mole sauce...

Add sour cream, add some queso fresco (which I didn't, because I forgot to buy some), and top with pickled jalapenos (which I didn't do, but I'm sure would have been great for heat-loving folks), then add some fresh cilantro (my favorite).

...drizzle with tomatillo sauce

Serve with a pile of napkins, a cold Corona beer (optional, but recommend for those of you who are over 21) and dig in!

TASTING NOTES:  Let's zero in on the mole sauce.  This is an alchemy of so many different ingredients, that you cannot distinguish  the independent flavors.  Not one single ingredient  over-powered the other.  It's a beautiful reddish-brown sauce, with a slightly nutty flavor and you cannot tell that there's chocolate as a surprised ingredient.  Sweet, spicy, nutty, slightly tomatoey-- just plain delicious!  Where have I been that I missed out on the wonderful flavor of mole?!  

As for the sandwich-- it's a messy affair, and one that my husband and I both enjoyed a lot. The next time I make this, I'm going to add a lot more heat to it by using an entire chipotle, and by making my own pickled jalapenos.  I had fun learning how to make my own Bolillos, but I really liked this recipe just as a stew, served over brown rice. 

You will find printable recipes for this mole at the end of this post.  If you are ambitious enough, I recommend making the bread and the tomatillo sauce.  Jeff Mauro-- I can see why Bobby Flay loved your recipes and why you were chosen as the winner.  You do have a knack for great flavor.  Well done!

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Velva said...

Looks delicious! I have just recently starting to discover mole. My first attempt was using a slow cooker which is perfect for making dishes with mole-

This sandwich rocks.


FOODalogue said...

That's a mighty tasty looking sandwich. I can just imagine it with all the layers of flavor. I, too, recently made a batch of mole and said to myself "why don't I do this more often?" Fortunately, I made a batch and have pulled out little containers from the freezer to flavor additional dishes. said...

I saw an interesting ingredient in your dish. Chili and chocolate? This got me curious. Looks delicious! =)

MYSAVIOR said...

I LOVE Jeff's show and he is a funny guy. Anything can be a great sandwich and I saw this episode - Yours looks DELISH!!


Karen said...

It's been a long time since I've had mole. Lots of ingredients to this one. The sandwich looks just yummy! That's a great idea about freezing the chipotles... they are so difficult to chop right out of the can.

Kate said...

Chicken mole has long been on my list of dishes to make! I love that you made it. Thanks!!

Joanne said...

I would say the fact htat you happened to turn on the food network at exactly that time was fate! A mole torta sounds fantastic to me. I love mole however I can get it!

Fashion Meets Food said...

What a unique recipe! I have never seen/heard about anything like this before, but sounds amazing. Definitely saving this recipe! xo

CulinarilyCourtney said...

Wow! I can feel my cravings for this sandwich awakening just by looking at these pictures. So glad to have found your blog--and I saw in your About Me that you are a fellow central coastie! :) Great recipes!