Sunday, March 6, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole

Nothing seems more fitting for yet another cold snowy day than something that fills the apartment with spicy aromas all afternoon. This slow cooker recipe wasn't quite the "fix it and forget it" varieties I've tried in the past. All the ingredients for the mole sauce were combined and blended before adding to the crock pot, And the cut up chicken pieces need to be removed of their skin before layering in the pot as well. Still for the amount of prep time up front...the pay out nine hours later sounded well worth it.

Adapted from the BHG Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes

serves 4-6

The Ingredients:
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
3 cloves garlic, quartered
2 canned jalapeno peppers, drained
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp raisins
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca
2 1/2 to 3 lb broiler-fryer chicken, cut up and skinned
2 Tbsp slivered almonds or pepitas, toasted (optional)

The Process:
For the mole sauce, in a blender or food processor combine undrained tomatoes, onion, the 1/4 cup almonds, garlic, jalapeno peppers, cocoa powder, raisins, sesame seeds, sugar, salt and spices. Cover and blend or process until mixture is a coarse puree.

In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker place the tapioca. Add the chicken and then sauce. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 9 to 11 hours or on high heat setting for 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours.

Remove the chicken from cooker and arrange on serving platter. Stir sauce; pour over chicken. Sprinkle with remaining almonds or pepitas. Serve with rice.

My Modifications:
I used skinless, bone-in chicken leg quarters. Usually I prefer chicken breasts, but the richer flavor seemed better with the darker meat. Plus it was what I happened to have on hand.

I used a 4 oz can of fire roasted green chilies, drained, instead of the jalapenos. I felt they would add a milder heat, but more depth to the flavor. To kick the heat back up a notch, I in turn added 1 Tbsp ancho chili powder, as well as a few extra cloves of garlic.

In the end, I believe the chicken stewed in the sauce on low for about ten hours. It was falling off the bone when I pulled it out.

The Review:
The meat was dripping off of the bones when I went to pull the chicken out of the slow cooker. The sauce left behind was thick and rich brown in color...and the chocolate smell permeated the entire kitchen. Surprisingly, the chocolate flavor was actually pretty subdued. As was any spice. The was no one distinct flavor in the mole, so much as just a rich, deep, earthy flavor. Ross commented that it was very different than a previous mole I had tried. Still good, but different. Only he couldn't put his finger on what was different. The previous recipe was not for a slow cooker, and it made use of boneless, skinless chicken breast, which yielded drier results. But overall the ingredient list was very much the same. I chalk the difference up to the cooking methods. The first simmered on the stove top for maybe half and hour which seemed to allow the individual ingredients to each shine through. The slow cooker's long cook time blended the sauce in to a deeper harmonious whole and allowed the flavor to penetrate the meat more deeply. And I can't say one is actually better than the other...

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