Don't be fooled into thinking mole (pronounced mole-EH) is just a Mexican chocolate sauce. To start with, though it is rich and decadent, it is savory, not sweet. In fact, depending on how it is made, it can pack significant heat. Most varieties involve some sort of ground nuts or seeds, which give these sauces a stick-to-your-ribs thickness that begs to be paired with hearty meats.
There are many ways to make mole. This version uses raw almonds, which are sauteed with onion, garlic, a few spices, a few chili peppers, some orange juice and tomato paste. The result is balanced and rich, and it won't overwhelm. You will, however, want some warm flour tortillas to sop up the excess. It's that good.
It's worth going out of your way to get Mexican chocolate for this recipe. It's less sweet than most chocolates, and it has a pleasantly grainy texture that — like the almonds — adds body to the finished sauce. If you can't find it, opt for a semi-sweet dark chocolate.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 to 4 Thai red chilies (depending on desired heat)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
6 ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2.7-ounce disk Mexican chocolate (such as Taza)
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Cooked brown rice, to serve
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add the almonds, garlic, cumin, coriander and chilies, then cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes. Add the orange juice and chicken broth, then stir to deglaze the pan. Bring to a simmer, then stir in the tomato paste and oregano. Transfer the mixture to a blender, then add the chocolate. Blend until smooth, then set aside.
Return the skillet to medium-high and heat the vegetable oil. Season the chicken with salt, then add it to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes per side. Return the sauce to the skillet, stirring gently to cover the chicken. Return to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165 F. Serve the chicken over rice, spooning mole sauce over the top.