Art of Cooking: Ancho Mole with Oaxaca Cheese and Roasted Chicken

A traditional Mexican cuisine favorite, mole is a scrumptious sauce combining a number of ingredients,  similar to tomato sauce, most commonly mole combines a spicy pepper (chili pepper), a fruit, a nut and spices like cinnamon and cumin. Savory, hearty with a little kick to it, it’s a perfect dish during the winter months, you will love the aroma your kitchen is filled with while cooking and the taste is absolutely delicious!

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For my first time experimenting with the sauce, I referenced different recipes, sources and techniques. Oaxaca – the cheese used in the recipe – is a soft string like cheese similar in texture as mozzarella but with the flavoring of  unaged monterey jack originating in Oaxaca, a town in southern Mexico. I purchased a few of the ingredients in this recipe at a local Spanish market, but call your local grocery store to see if they have these ingredients available. The two hard to find items might be the cheese and the peppers, you can always substitute the cheese with a fresh mozzarella.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 dried ancho chile peppers (seeded and stemmed)
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet hersheys chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 5 unpeeled cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
  • Spices (ground cinnamon, cumin, basil, oregano, black pepper, sea salt)
  • 2 – 3 tbsps of nuts – i used cashews – you can also use peanuts or almonds
  • 2 –  3 tbsps of dried berries such as craisens or raisens – i used craisens
  • Skinned chicken breasts and thighs ( 5 – 8 pcs)
  • 1/2 lb oaxaca cheese
  • Blender or food processor
  • Frying pan

Cut open your chili peppers using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors to remove the seeds. Cut off the stems.

Add a little vegetable oil to the frying pan and place on medium heat. Toast your dried chili peppers, occasionally flipping over until they are a brown color – a little on the darker side is okay but don’t burn them. Check on them every few minutes to be sure. Image may contain: food

Once nice and toasted, place your chili peppers in about 2 cups of boiling water and allow them to soak for 20 minutes until they become soft.

In the meantime, add a little more vegetable oil to the pan and toast your garlic cloves with the peels still on them. Check them periodically so they don’t burn (burnt garlic is the worst) they should be a nice golden color and soft.

Using a blender – add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth, a dash or oregano, a dash of basil, about a 1/4 tbsp of cinnamon, a little cumin and black pepper. I always use a small amount of spices at first then taste test once blended together to get a better idea of what it will need more of. Blend together until smooth.

Remove the chili peppers from the water. Place the water to the side. Add the chili peppers and the garlic to the blender. Blend for about 3 minutes until smooth.

Add a little more vegetable oil to the pan, add the nuts and fruits, lightly toast for a few minutes. Add to the blender and blend for about 5 minutes until smooth.

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Add your finely chopped onions to the frying pan, allow to saute until golden light brown, then add your blended mixture to the pan.

Allow to simmer in the pan, stirring occasionally.

Add your chocolate morsels and allow the chocolate to melt, mix together gently. Keep the heat at a low temperature.

Periodically add some of the chili pepper water (the water your chili peppers were soaking in) into the frying pan to keep the sauce from thickening too much. You can also balance this out with using regular, non chili pepper water to tone down the spiciness.

For the chicken:

Rinse off your chicken and dry with a paper towel.

Using a fork, poke holes into the chicken so the dry rub gets inside.

Rub your chicken with black pepper, sea salt, marjoram and whatever other spices you think would taste yummy roasted.

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Place your chicken on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil coated with a thin layer of vegetable oil.

Bake on 350 degrees for about 25 – 30 minutes, check to make sure your chicken is done if you aren’t sure by slicing one in half.

Once the chicken is done, place your oaxaca cheese on top of the chicken. You don’t have to use the full 1/2 lb but you can if you want.

Pour the mole sauce all over the cheese and chicken, let them get drenched in the sauce. Then stick back in the oven for about 3 – 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted!