Chicken with Mole Verde
Mole Verde ("Green Mole") is a rich and flavorful Mexican sauce made from tomatillos, chiles, cilantro, nuts, and roasted vegetables. Mole is Spanish for "ground" and in Mexican (and broader Hispanic cuisine), the term refers to a sauce that is made by grinding together the ingredients. You may have heard of Mole Poblano, Red Mole, or Black Mole, all of which are sauces based on ground chiles, warm spices, seeds/nuts, and even chocolate. Unlike these more famous cousins, a mole verde is much lighter, with bright acidic notes that allow the chicken flavor to shine through. My interpretation is a combination of two different recipes. I love to make this with an older chicken, which makes a really rich, flavorful broth -- just make sure to cook your chicken long enough for it to be tender!
For the chicken and chicken broth:
1 (3-4 pounds) whole Flight Path Farm chicken, cut into pieces
½ cup chopped cilantro stems (from the cilantro used in the mole, below)
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons of table salt)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, whole, crushed with the flat of a knife
1 large yellow onion, cut in half, root end on
1 bay leaf
For the mole verde:
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
5 cloves garlic
2 jalapeños peppers
2 poblano peppers
5 tomatillos, husks removed
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (see notes below)
2 tablespoons pine nuts (see notes below)
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chicken broth (from cooking the chicken), divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
Juice of 1 lime
Start by getting your chicken cooking and making your chicken broth
Place chicken, cilantro, salt, peppercorns, garlic, onion, bay leaf, and water to cover in a large enough saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender (30 minutes for a standard store-bought chicken, 45-60 minutes for a young chicken from our farm, or 2-4 hours for an older stewing hen or a rooster). Add additional water to cover as necessary.
Remove chicken from saucepan and strain liquid through a fine strainer; reserve 2 cups, and save remaining liquid for another use (see notes below). Set chicken and liquid aside.
While the chicken is cooking, make your mole sauce
Heat oven broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with foil (optional). Place onions, garlic, jalapeños (remove seeds first), poblanos (remove seeds first), and tomatillos on the baking sheet and broil until charred, turning occasionally. Remove vegetables as they become charred.
Toast pumpkin seeds and pine nuts (or other nuts -- see notes below) in a dry frying pan over medium heat until golden, about 3 minutes.
Place onion, garlic, jalapeños, poblanos, tomatillos, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, cilantro, oregano, salt, and 1 cup broth from cooking the chicken in a blender. Purée until smooth.
Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once shimmering, carefully add mole, stirring constantly. Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Then add remaining 1 cup of stock and cook, stirring frequently, another 5 minutes.
Stir in lime juice. Taste and add more salt as needed.
Now, add the cooked chicken pieces. Coat them with the sauce and then warm on low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is warm. Serve with tortillas or rice, with additional sauce spooned on the chicken.
The leftover broth is fantastic! Use it as a base for other soups and sauces (you can leave out the cilantro stems for a more neutral flavor).
You can cook the chicken/broth in an Instant Pot to speed things up, or in a slow cooker if you want to go do something else. If using a pressure cooker or instant pot, use just enough water to cover since you will not have evaporation of the water as it cooks.
I rarely use pine nuts (expensive!) and will usually substitute sesame seeds, which are perfectly authentic. If I don't happen to have pepitas on hand, I will use peanuts or pecans.
I will usually serve this without the skin (the dog loves me for it), and if working with an older stewing hen, I will sometimes remove all the meat from the bone and then stir it into the sauce. (You really want it to be soft and tender!)