Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Braised Chicken Tacos with Easy Mole Sauce

Traditional Mexican mole may include 30-some ingredients and take all day to prepare. That’s a delicious and wonderful thing. But the process—and ingredients list—can be simplified while still resulting in a rich, dark, silky sauce touting hints of aromatic spices, fiery chiles, and, of course, chocolate—a must-have item for mole.

This easier, faster, “reduced” version still has layers of rich flavor, tasting more complex than it is, due to the various types of ingredients—chiles, nuts, seeds, vegetables, chocolate, even tortilla chips for thickening. (Authentic mole would include day-old corn tortillas, torn.)  

Mole Ingredients
You can prepare each step in making the mole sauce in the same pan. The ingredients then go into a food processor and back into the pan for finishing.

Makes 12 tacos

  • 3 lbs whole chicken legs, split into thighs and drumsticks
  • 1/4 tsp chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3-3/4 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped almonds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 guajillo chiles
  • 4 chiles de arbol
  • 1/4 cup black raisins
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 oz corn tortilla chips, broken
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (preferably, Mexican)
  • 1-oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 12 6-inch corn or flour tortillas, warmed or lightly charred on gas range
  • radishes and poblano chiles cut into matchsticks, and chopped cilantro, for serving
Taco Toppings
  1. Sprinkle the chicken with chile powder and cumin and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large, deep skillet (or Dutch oven) over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, swirling to coat. Add the chicken skin-side down and cook until golden, 5-6 minutes.
  3. Turn and add 2 cups chicken broth (it should come up at least half way). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and braise until the chicken is fork-tender, turning once halfway through, 45 minutes.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a plate. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat, discarding skin and bones.
Seasoned Chicken
Chicken Beginning to Sear 
After Turning 
Broth Added 
Braised Chicken
Shredded Chicken
  1. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the chopped almonds and sesame seeds. Toast, stirring often to prevent burning, until lightly toasted, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.
  2. Place all the dried chiles and raisins in the saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover, and let stand until softened, 10 minutes. Drain the mixture and transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, chop the chiles, discarding stems and seeds. Place the chiles and raisins in the food processor.
  3. Re-heat the saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes. Transfer to the food processor.
Almonds and Sesame Seeds 
Chiles and Raisins 
Onion and Garlic
  1. Add the tortilla chips, tomatoes, cinnamon, and oregano to the processor and season with salt. Process to coarsely chop. Add the remaining 1-3/4 cups broth and process until smooth.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring  often, 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chocolate and continue cooking until melted and blended, 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, if needed.
  4. Add the shredded chicken to the mole sauce and stir to combine. Cook until hot throughout, 4-5 minutes.
Ready to Process 
Chopped Ingredients
Processed with Broth 
Mixture Beginning to Cook 
Cooked Mole with Chocolate
Chicken Added
Serve the chicken mole on warm tortillas topped with radish and poblano chile slices.

Braised Chicken Tacos with Easy Mole Sauce

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